A living proof that dreams can be accomplished along with flowers and good humor
The winner of the first version of MasterChef Latino (on Telemundo), Venezuelan actress Sindy Lazo opens the doors to her heart with humor and grace. The actress conquered the jury gastronomically with an exquisite asopado of pork with the flavor and seasoning of the traditional Venezuelan hallacas and thus received a $100,000 dollar prize as the best chef of the competition.
|MasterChef is the world’s number one cooking reality show and a successful international trademark.|
After an artistic career in her native country, most often in acting – following in the footsteps of her mother Mimi Lazo, a renowned actress, and cinema, television and theatre producer –, Sindy Lazo and her mother left Venezuela due to the difficult political and socioeconomic situation of their country, and came to Miami to start again.
Back in Venezuela, Sindy starred and produced her own television show “La Cocinita de Sindy” (Sindy’s Little Kitchen), where she interviewed various public figures, all of which she captured in a book with the same name. Prior to that success, she played several roles in a couple of soap operas, including “Voltea pa’ca para que te enamores” (Look this way, and you’ll fall in love) in which she acted along with her mother. She also starred in a humorous monologue about the pain caused by her father’s abandonment at a very young age. Importantly, all that was left behind and she came to the United States to start over.
In a hurried interview, in the midst of her participation as a panelist at an event in Houston, TX to promote women’s entrepreneurship in realizing their dreams, we managed to capture Sindy’s essence. We can say that she is a woman full of personality and contagious laughter and joy. She has a great ability to laugh at herself and you don’t have to know her very well to feel her ‘spark’. In her audition for MasterChef, she stood out among the other contestants by arriving with a wreath of flowers, which recalled not only the tropicality of her country, Venezuela, but also highlighted her femininity and coquettish attitude.
In her interview with REVISTA MUJER Sindy tells us where does so much flavor, so much humor and so much tropicality come from.
Humor is a constant in you, where does it come from?
Well, my mom is very funny… but it comes mainly from a lot of therapy! I have done all the therapy that you can imagine, because I suffered the abandonment by my father; I suffered a lot because of this and swallowed all that pain. And with therapy, I started to make it part of my life, and there’s nothing better than laughing at oneself. I don’t like comedians who make jokes at the expense of others when there are so many things about ourselves to laugh about, and besides, it is therapeutic!, and makes life easier. For example, everyone knows that I came to MasterChef for the purpose of finding a husband!
We investigated about her upbringing and the women who influenced her to become the woman she is today and discovered an infinite love, not only by her mother (who almost always accompanies her in her projects and travels), but also by her grandmother. We asked her about them.
My mother has been my great love, of course, my great influence in life. But my grandmother taught me love through food, she did spectacular meals… I can still remember the aroma of my grandmother’s home. My grandmother gave me love through everything she did, although it was simple cooking, I always had an endless shower of love, and that’s growing in me, and that’s what I want to give to people.
Did you cook with her?
The cheesecake, that got myself into MasterChef, was hers, and also the stew I won with. I saw a lot of what she did, especially the magic that grandmothers have: that with a tomato, an onion and some meat they create a wonderful thing. One now needs a number of ingredients, and I love that it is fashionable to go back to basics, to the simple ingredient.
What did it feel to win MasterChef Latino?
I’m still processing it. Life has always been far more ambitious than I am with dreams. I’ve been presented with this wonderful life. I’m still processing that I’m a MasterChef winner. I still see the American version and I say: I was there, I won that! But over time, I realize that I was there, but that it was not me alone, I was representing my mom, my grandmother, Venezuelans as we are sometimes commonly looked down upon, and also Latinos, who have to start all over again, in a new country.
During the broadcast of MasterChef, Sindy wore upon her head a wreath made of big flowers, which became her signature, and that became a concept called “Flower Power”, and even a brand that has already started to be sold online! Tell us about “Flower Power”…
(Sighs and laughs!). I am not sexist but feminism and I don’t get along much. I come from a mother who has been “Arrechísima” (a strong word meaning “very strong”) – and forgive me -. All my life I grew up with a mother who was capable of everything and with a grandmother who at the age of 20 had already raised four children, so women empowerment is normal for me. So all of this movement right now where women have to show how powerful they are, I don’t understand it much.
So “Flower Power” is for women to stop having to prove themselves, to understand that they can earn more than a man, or run a country, or do whatever they like, all they have to do is achieve their dreams, whatever it might be… dreams like mine, to become a housewife, or those of others, like the desire to become President of the Republic. There is nothing more feminine than a flower, so a flower in the head is for women to understand that having the power won’t take away the fact of being feminine
It was also a way to differentiate from the other contestants. When I came to the audition of MasterChef, although I arrived ahead of the time, the line was already so long! People had a lot of food and I had a small cake, I said, “Thank Goodness I have flowers on my head!”
You talk a lot about dreams… When I was preparing this meeting, someone asked me why I wasn’t focusing on the culinary aspect of your life and I told them that even though you won MasterChef, I felt that Sindy has not come into this world just to cook, but to do something bigger, right?
I’m going to cry!, [and literally her eyes became watery, she almost ruined all her makeup before her speech in front of all those women!]. And you know why? Because that’s exactly what I’m about to talk about today. I’m asked, when are you going to cook? And I say yes, I’m going to make some recipes, but the intention with which I went to MasterChef, besides cooking and proving to myself that I could cook, was to show that dreams come true. That we come to a new country, which is hard, and that we forget to dream; but to say that dreams do not come true is a lie, and I am proof of that. So, I do want to talk about cooking, because I know a lot about it and I love it, but I want to talk about the woman who is capable of everything, to return to that, to say to these women: “find your purpose in life”.
And what’s your dream?
My dream is to keep doing things like this, where I can keep communicating with people. I produced a tv program in Venezuela, “La Cocinita de Sindy”, where it was not about cooking at all, we cooked anything… I once interviewed “Maestra Ximena”, [character played by Gabriela Rivero, Mexican actress], and she told me “I’m not going to eat that” and I said “you have to eat it because you’re on TV – or else!” (laughs!). It was about the connection, about meeting each other, about hearing each other’s stories. My country is so divided that ultimately we have to get together. And when you talk about food you forget all the differences. If I ask you, what was the dish that your mother, or grandmother, or whomever raised you, made for you? You forget what dress I was wearing, or if it looked ugly on me… you forget everything, but not the connection you made with me through food… and that’s the beauty of it.
Who do you admire?
Oprah. Because she came to the world to motivate everyone, to say that it is possible. She did break all the paradigms. If one doesn’t believe that in life any dream is possible, then what are we doing here? I admire her because she came to the world to move us all, to push us to believe and show us that spirituality is a day to day thing, it is not something of very high society people, but it belongs to everyone, it is in the simplest things, and she made that very clear.
I admire my mom, of course, for her happiness. She enjoys the journey, I enjoy the arrival. I get into a plane and I want to arrive to my destination right away. My mom, on the other hand, she puts on makeup, she even wears a dress to get on the plane!
What is next for Sindy?
Well, there’s a book coming out, it is about my story, about the “Flower Power”, about my father’s abandonnement that still touches me a lot and so I would like to talk about it a little bit more, and about how one has the possibility to change anything you don’t like about yourself, about your journey, you can choose any path you like. And of course, there are some recipes as well! It will be out towards the end of the year.
In one of your preview interviews you said something very powerful, you said: “I wanted to take a message of hope to all Venezuelans and Latinos who are starting their lives over from scratch in another place, that we can change our future and that dreams do cost. If we do something for them every day, they can come true”. What would you say today to so many Venezuelan women who like you, are starting over again?
I want to tell the Venezuelan women not to be afraid, that we can start again anywhere, and that it is not easy, it cost me a lot. I left my country with a successful program, but I left everything behind and I started to run out of money… I was a waitress… it was difficult, but you never start from scratch because you bring your experience, and nobody takes that away from you! And that is how all Venezuelans come, we are prepared to eat the world. And we try to be our best ambassadors, especially of the Venezuela we want to rescue, not the one we want to end up with – the one of hatred -, but the beauty of our country.
Do you think your story can inspire others to follow their “crazy dream” – how you call it – ?
That’s what I’d love the most. Look at me, who won MasterChef, that was unthinkable! My brother is still processing it. My mom is a great dreamer, and for her it was a very nice gift because she also left the country, and that cost her a lot, it still costs her, but she told me “you gave me the clear conviction, the proof that dreams are made reality. I’m going to win the Oscar, now I’m going to win it!”. Because dreams are made with an intention. Intention is a fundamental step.
In REVISTA MUJER we like to talk about real woman, not the unattainable, we like to see a bit of vulnerability, because we believe that is what connects us as human beings. From your most vulnerable side, what has been the hardest or most challenging in your life, from the abandonment of your father, to the departure from your country?
Leaving Venezuela and arriving in Miami was very difficult. I’m telling you this for the first time: people my mom had given work to in Venezuela, actresses that my mom had worked with, they turned away from us, because of the political issue -which is also false- they turned their backs on us in Miami. Overcoming that was complicated, because it was people who knew us, who knew who my mother and I were. That is very hard, to see that you have to reinvent yourself… Latinos in general, we have to reinvent ourselves, get creative.
What helped you get ahead?
That I have the certainty that life always has something better for you, that life is not this moment, that it always brings us something better. Life is three years from now… That’s why one should not harm anyone, because life will charge you when you least think about it, and in different ways. That is why one must walk clean through life, because life is that: what one puts outside is going to come back to you. But in difficult moments one learns to know that one has the power to succeed. And don’t be afraid of suffering, when you have sad moments, embrace them, suffer them! When your boyfriend leaves you, you cry, you throw yourself to the floor, you experience the feeling! But knowing that something better is coming and reinventing yourself, and that if it is not around here yet, it will come later. Life is very long and at the same time very short.
When I tell you these words, what comes to mind?
Grandmother: I cry. I think of love.
Mom: my everything. My mother is a great teacher, because my mom came to the world with a very clear mission from a very young age and it is to show that there are thousands of ways to achieve dreams. My mom doesn’t believe in statistics, she was staring at 60 almost when no one was doing it in my country. My mom filled the Poliedro de Caracas (Caracas Polyhedron Arena) with a monologue when monologues did not yet exist. She married a 20 year old boy and they have been together for 23 years. My mom is a woman who has broken paradigms, and who has made people start dreaming and know that there are thousands of ways to live.
Marriage: my next crazy dream.
Woman: what I am.
Venezuela: my home.
Future: my daughter.
Vision of life: that life is always there to sustain us, that it will not leave us alone.
From Sindy we have one huge message to keep in the heart: that we can’t forget to dream, and that no matter how crazy that dream is, we can make it happen. Ignoring all the social and cultural codes that influence us and tell us “how we should live life”. To be happy we have to accomplish our dreams and to do that, we only need intention and determination. So, keep dreaming and fight for those dreams!
You can follow Sindy on social media as @sindylazo