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Isabela Moner felt she was meant to play Dora the Explorer in movie

US actress Isabela Moner on how she was meant to play Dora the Explorer and on being true to herself

Isabela Moner has made a name for herself playing spunky teens in Hollywood movies like Transformers: The Last Knight, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado and Instant Family.

But the 18-year-old US actress of Peruvian descent always felt she was meant to play Dora the Explorer, the titular seven-year-old Latina adventurer from the Nickelodeon cartoon series of the same name.

She said: "My whole life I've been called Dora and I was like, 'wow'. I was meant to play this role. I just felt like her and everyone who saw it, they just started smiling and laughing. They're like, 'Yeah, this is pretty much it'. And then when the bangs came on, dude, the bangs? It was crazy."

In the live-action adaptation Dora And The Lost City Of Gold, which opens here tomorrow, 16-year-old jungle-raised Dora (Moner) prepares for her most dangerous adventure ever - high school in the big city.

She quickly finds herself leading her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), a mysterious jungle inhabitant (Eugenio Derbez) and a rag tag group of classmates to save her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Pena) and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.

On the advice that Dora's parents give her

The only thing that she really has to take when she goes into the high school is "just be yourself". And that's really all she knows how to do. She doesn't know how to fake being another person in order to fit in with a certain group of people. So Dora is authentically herself and I love that about her.

It's quite endearing to find somebody like that in this world, where it seems like everyone's just living for Instagram or posting about their lives. They're really controlling how people view their lives.

But Dora is like, "This is me. This is who I am." And I think it is a great lesson for kids, for anyone. People my age specifically are like, "Who am I? What am I gonna do in this world and what do I have to offer?" Dora taught me a few things.

On the subtlety of Dora's strength

She is a really strong, smart, educated character who isn't written in a way where it's like "strong, feminist character", It is just the way that she is.

On her co-stars

I love my cast so much. I wasn't a part of the casting process. I had no say. Every actor takes a risk when they're doing a big movie, whether it's a romantic movie or an (ensemble) movie like Avengers or something where you have no idea who you're gonna work with.

This is probably one of my favourite casts of all time because they're all around my age and Jeff's just a sweetheart. I'm still friends with him to this day. I keep working with the Wahlbergs. I mean, I've worked with Mark (Wahlberg) in two movies (Transformers: The Last Knight and Instant Family), and then I was like, Jeff Wahlberg? And they're like, "Yeah, he's related to Mark." And then Mark reached out and he said, "Yeah, you're working with my nephew. How is it?"

On the actors who play the adults in the movie

I've just never seen such a big cast full of Latinos in a big Hollywood summer release. We have Eugenio Derbez, who is just the greatest person. Eva Longoria plays my mother and I love her so much, and the fact that they thought that I could be related to her is quite flattering. And then Michael Pena is my dad, and he's hilarious. I would show up or stay on set all day just to hear his improv.

I appreciate the (Hispanic) representation which I think is very underrated, not really spoken of, because there's Spanish in this movie and there is a whole cast of Latinos. I just think it's wonderful.

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