Dania Ramirez easily recalls her humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic. Her parents came to the United States when she was six-months-old and left Ramirez in the care of her grandmother until they could bring her into the U.S. with them at 10-years-old.
Of her time in the Dominican Republic she says that there was "no real roof on the house... no running water so we had tanks out to gather rain water... and no electricity most of the time, but we found a way to have fun and laugh, play, sing, dance, eat."
Then she was sent to live with her Aunt in the capital, Santo Domingo and experienced more of city life. There Ramirez, "climbed trees, played canicas, and jumped from roof to roof to throw rocks at a tamarind tree, and steal them, and ran away. Just simple but happy!"
Now Ramirez, who stars in Lifetime's Devious Maids, is the mother of seven-month-old twins: Daughter Gaia Jissel and son John Aether, along with Kai, her 12-year-old stepson. She married director Bev Land on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in 2013.
She is currently producing her first film, Talbot County, a modern take on a Hitchcockian horror film set in the '80s, which is written and will be directed by her husband.
In an upfront Q&A, Dania shared the details of her life now, balancing a family and the acting career she dreamed of as a child.
So far, what has surprised you most about being a mom?
How incredibly hard and gratifying it's been. I am so in love. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them. But I just want them to learn, love and appreciate everything so it is a huge responsibility.
What do you worry about most as a mom? How do you cope with the maternal anxiety?
That they are healthy. I try to just do the best I can.
What was the birthing process like for you?
Difficult. I was very sick from the very beginning, as I'm sure everyone is, but I started having real difficulties and the doctor put me on bed rest for almost two months at the end of my pregnancy.
Are the twins breast-feeding or bottle-feeding?
I breast-fed and bottle-fed them for the first two months. They were so tiny. Then, I began work just shy of three weeks of having them and it became more and more challenging. They are seven months now and are bottle-fed only.
What kinds of things -- diet and exercise -- have you done to get back in shape after giving birth?
I've done everything! Juice cleanse at first with vegetable and protein juices, weight trained, bike. I like to eat healthy and I love to cook, so I eat at home and that has helped. Plus, after running around with two babies and work, I got right back in shape.
What is your day-to-day schedule like with work and the twins? Are you getting any sleep?
At first sleep was just not an option, I began filming Devious Maids in January and gave birth December 17. By the time I fed and burped one and changed a diaper, it was time to do the other and with the show I was working nonstop. Thank God for my husband and my mom who came out to help me for the first three months.
What is the best advice about parenting you have received?
Don't over buy them clothes because they will grow out of them sooner than they can wear them all -- by my husband, of course!
How will the way you were parented affect your parenting? What are the values you most want to pass on to your kids?
I had incredibly tough women raising me. Then, my mom and dad were very strict, but now that I am grown I feel like I was lucky to have people that cared so much! Even when my mom and dad were not in DR with me, their discipline was always present.
I know I will be strict as far as manners and keeping them grounded. I want my kids to feel love and commitment from me. However, I don't want to be so rigid that I don't relate to my children. I do think it's important to be a parent and not just their best friend. I would like to find an even balance. I want them to be who they are and celebrate it!
What is the secret to your marriage?
Love... life is so crazy and complicated, without that I don't know how anything works.
Tell me what you enjoy most about your role on Devious Maids?
Rosie is such a complex role. I am having the best time playing her. I can be funny without telling a joke and fall in love all at once! She is so honest and her story is such one I relate to that the work for me is just fun. I want her to help people and have best friends and hurt so that I can explore her finding her way back to happiness once again.