fD Interview


fD Interview: Wanda Colón, Designer, Actress and TV Host

May 25, 2009
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
Wanda Colón is one of the most prominent Latina personalities currently on television. She applies her creative genius to the popular show “Home Made Simple,” which airs on TLC, and heads her own private design company in Los Angeles, all while pursuing her passion for acting, writing and producing.

fD: Tell me a little more about your show, “Home Made Simple.”

WC: What makes our show unique is that we have three hosts: an interior designer, a handyman and a chef. What we’re about is simple solutions, painting rooms and doing simple constructions. We basically do repurposing, and we also like to create things instead of buying them.

fD: How did your passion for interior design arise?

WC: I majored in theater, so I had to study set design. I was originally very intimidated by the idea of doing set design, so I waited until the last year to take it, but once I did it I realized that it really opens up your creativity. We often had to use the same props for very different plays, so just changing them up to make them look a little different became a huge challenge for me, and I loved it. I also minored in fine arts, painting in particular, so I was able to paint backdrops. That’s how I originally started, and when I moved to Los Angeles I started working for an interior design firm.

fD: You went to school in Pennsylvania, and now live in LA. What would you say are the biggest differences between the design trends on the East and West Coasts?

WC: There is a huge difference. I think the West Coast is a little more trendy, while the East Coast has a classic, traditional style even within the homes. People on the West Coast seem more likely to take risks when it comes to decorating, but I do love the traditional styles and colors of the East Coast. Those trends also translate to clothing, which is something that comes up often in the show. When we meet the owners, we usually have about 15 minutes to see what their style is, and I definitely look at what they’re wearing to get a clue as to their style.
fD: Where you born in the States?

WC: Yes. My parents were born in Puerto Rico, but they met in Pennsylvania and that’s where I was born.

fD: Do you and your parents speak Spanish at home?

WC: Yes, they do. They taught us how to speak Spanish, write Spanish, cook Spanish… Everything.

fD: Who are your role models, the people who you admire?

WC: My mother is a great role model for me. She came here when she was 15 years old, and met my father when she was 16. She finished her high school after she was married, and I remember as a kid that she was always taking classes. We would speak in English and in Spanish at home, and she really wanted to master the language. She’s a very strong and independent person; I look up to her and have a very good relationship with her.

fD: Did she contribute to your passion for design?

WC: Her taste and my taste are completely different. She has a very passionate personality: her favorite color is red, she’s very bold and likes a lot of stuff. When I first moved out I had hardly anything in my house, everything was very minimal. Now I do have more things, but not as much as she does.
fD: How would you define your personal style? Is it influenced by your cultural heritage?

WC: Absolutely. My pieces tend to be very rustic. I like craftsmanship, natural wood. My dining room table for instance is handmade. I do feel that my ethnicity is coming through in that. Another thing that I love is local art; I don’t believe in buying random art. I feel you should get things that are original and that speak to you. I also strongly believe in supporting your local artists, who can offer wonderful pieces [at] a fraction of the cost. In California I have my ear to the heartbeat of the local art scene and try to take advantage of it as much as possible. I am an artist myself, so it’s important for me to really keep that art alive. I love when I have the opportunity to design a Spanish style house, where I can use beautiful Mexican tiles, and the pottery…  I love it.

fD: What would you say is your favorite episode of the show, and why was that project particularly challenging?

WC: It was my first season on the show, the owner of the house was a firefighter and we wanted to follow that theme. I wanted to do something unique and three-dimensional on the walls, so I painted half of the wall red, and I decorated it with a fire hose, caps and magnets, so that it really looked like a fire truck. The carpenter also made a ladder, and we put it on top as a shelf, with a blackboard on it. It was a really cool project that wasn’t hard to do, and we got a lot of great feedback from people who wanted to try something like that for their kids. The family loved it; the father cried.

fD: How do you feel the use of color can affect a room? Any trends you particularly like?

WC: I feel that is the beginning of design, color; it’s really the quickest, least expensive way to change the look of a room. A gallon of paint is only around $35, and it can really transform a space. I’m very much into color, but I don’t really follow trends that much, but rather a more personal style. I’d rather pick a neutral color and then accessorize than paint in a bolder color, because I’d like to give people a solution they can live with for a long time.

fD: You mentioned you have a background in acting. Do you see yourself as a person of two careers, integrating acting and design?

WC: That’s what I’m trying to do now. What’s really great about what I do is that we shoot for 26 weeks out of the year, so I have half a year off. During my last break I produced, starred and cowrote a short film that just won a silver award at the Houston WorldFest. I’m very proud of it because I speak in Spanish the entire short. I really wanted to challenge myself and be seen as something completely different than what I think people know me as, stretching not only my acting skills but also what people see me as. I wanted to do something my family would be proud of, and I really loved it. My mom coached me to make sure I pronounced everything correctly; she helped me translate as well.

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