Vicente Fernandez’ Niece Giselle Mendoza Set to Conquer Hollywood!
By Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
US Navy Disabled Veteran – 1980 – 1991
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 03/31/2020
“If you change your mind, you can change your day and if you change enough days, your life will change.”
— Giselle Mendoza
“Giselle Mendoza is a joy, lovely, sexy and most of all a Lady in every respect of the word. She’s a no-nonsense, gritty, honest and wonderful woman who came from humble beginnings to become a Lady that is taking Hollywood by storm!”
– Patrick Donovan
About Giselle Mendoza:
Los Angeles, CA (March 19, 2020) – Actress Giselle Mendoza (American Horror Story, Better Call Saul) is following on the famous footsteps or should we say boots, of her uncle, legendary Mexican icon Vicente Fernandez known as the King of Ranchera Music. With an uncle with a net worth of over 25 million, Giselle has confronted and bested all the judgement and considerations some people have thrown her way. She knew from an early age that coming from such a high-profile celebrity family meant she would have to work twice as hard -and she did.
“I know there is great curiosity to know about my uncle and family life. I understand the fascination. I recently re-connected with Alejandro Fernández and it was not what I expected” said Mendoza.
What a wonderful Lady Giselle Mendoza is! During our discussion, which you can hear at the end of the Q&A transcript for our low vision and blind patrons, she told me about her humble beginnings, rise through the pain from verbal, physical and sexual abuse in real life, to being a force to be reckoned with. She is now a very successful Lady who has a passion for life, a passion to help those with At Risk Youth and students by working with organizations such as:
- Every Monday Matters – led by Forrest Whitaker and his wife
- Stand Up in the Halls
- Students Run LA (SRLA)
- And more!
She’s worked with Seth Riggs, vocal coach to many famous stars, and legendary stunt coach, Bob Yerkes. She’s worked with Spice Williams-Crosby, a black belt in Karate and professional stunt woman and actress, and Dennis Madalone, stunt coordinator for Star Trek, Without a Trace, Castle and so much more.
Giselle Mendoza is such a warm, kind-hearted, loving and wonderful Lady that you cannot help but enjoy being in her company. I was amazed with how she fought through her adversity and turned it into positive highs. You can learn from Giselle and I highly recommend you listen to the audio interview and hear for yourself why Hollywood had better watch out! Giselle Mendoza is coming and everything is about to change!
The Transcript of the interview with Giselle Mendoza:
The audio interview with Giselle follow at the end.
Patrick: Giselle, how are you? Nice to meet you.
Giselle: I’m excellent. Nice to meet you too. Considering all this going on. It’s really nice to meet you, Patrick.
Patrick: Yes, ma’am. I just want to thank you for joining me today and it’s a pleasure, thank you. I sort of changed the question up from the beginning because I wanted to know how you and your family are doing with this virus outbreak and I want to make sure that you’re safe and healthy.
Giselle: Oh, thank you for that. And based off of everything that we’re hearing, we’re doing all of the preventative measures to make sure that we all stay healthy, which is, you know, not going outside. We actually employed #Instacart to have groceries delivered and we’re just really trying to lay low and keep everybody else safe and healthy also.
Patrick: Yes, ma’am. I understand. It’s really good and it’s important. So good, well, let’s get right into it. You were born in Los Angeles and began your career at age three as a dancer, singer, and actor. Talk to me about that and what were some of the high and low points of your early beginnings.
Giselle: Yeah, I really actually love this question because a lot of people don’t really take the time to get to know how it is that we began. You know, we just see kind of the grown up version of the actor or the entertainer and you don’t really know how we started. So funny story, actually, is when I first began as a dancer, the form of dance that I went into first was tap dancing and the age requirement is like my first low, the age requirement is five.
But I was obsessed with Shirley temple. I don’t know what it was. I ended up seeing like this old footage of this, you know, little girl tap dancer and I became instantly obsessed and coming from a family that’s also, you know, full of entertainers, I was like, okay, this is what I’m going to do. So I begged my mom to take me to the class and the teacher declined me cause because she’s like, well, she’s only three years old, you know.
So my mom essentially called the lady, you know, please, please she’s obsessed with this type of dance. She saw Shirley Temple. Can you please at least put her in the back of the class for today, you know? So she put me at the back of the class. It was very, very important that my mom really fought for me that day. So I sat to the, you know, I went to the back of the class and I caught onto the steps so quickly that, that turned the low into the high.
The teacher actually invited me into the class, and probably after about six months, she ended up using me as the class example for how to do things like the shuffle or the quick ball changes and, um, I ended up performing by like age four performing great as a tap dancer.
Patrick: Great. So what was Hamilton High School for the performing arts like working with your coach Seth Riggs?
Giselle: Oh my gosh. That was honestly one of the most incredible times of my entire life. First of all, so many talented people in general were at Hamilton High from Alicia keys to Selena Gomez. I mean, so many people got invited into the school. I didn’t really understand the validity and the weight of being invited into the school and how you have to actually be elected by people in junior high and your professors and all that stuff. So when I got there, I really didn’t have a clue of what was, what was what until I trained with Seth Riggs. Seth Riggs is a vocal coach to the stars. We’re talking Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey.
And because I guess in my own head, I had a little bit of pressure coming from such a same family of singers they sent such as Alejandro Fernandez, I’m like, okay, well I gotta, you know, coach with the best. He is amazing! I did not expect to be taught as a singer, um, in the form of opera, but that’s how I learned to sing initially was opera and musical theater.
Once you have those two down pat, I feel like pop singing is really much more of a breeze. I would just say learning from him was just absolutely incredible. You know, he teaches all the grades, so I was really honored.
Patrick: You mentioned the opera. I’m a jazz trumpet player. I was a United States Navy Band. I’ve been playing for about off and on now 45 years. But I just love it and you mentioned opera. Do you know the song that I love the most is that piece from The Fifth Element, with the alien that’s singing it? I don’t know if you remember that section. I forgot the name of the song. Absolutely incredible.
Giselle: No, I’ll have to look it up.
Patrick: Oh, yeah. It’s fantastic. Um, but anyway, you have a fine arts degree… yeah, it’s from The Fifth Element, uh, the opera, I forget the opera piece. It’s really good. Yeah, mezzo soprano style.
Giselle: That’s perfect for me, I’ll call you back and sing it for you!
Patrick: Yeah, cause I love music. I love opera and I grew up in a musical family myself. Like my grandfather was a trumpet player back in the 1920s and speakeasys.
Giselle: NO WAY?
Patrick: Oh yeah. Yeah. I have his horn. Over a hundred years old. Yeah. Yeah, it’s fantastic.
Giselle: That is so epic!
Patrick: Yeah, it is great. Yeah, and so it’s a lot of fun. Let me tell you. Music is, it’s so exciting. It gives you a natural high, you know that?
Giselle: For sure, yeah!
Patrick: That’s what it does for me. So you have a master’s in fine arts and you are awarded the Woman of influenced award and honored by SAG/AFTRA as a trailblazer performer, and you, who honor your native American roots, are also featured in cosmopolitan magazine, as well as being proclaimed the sexiest Spaniard alongside Enrique Iglesias, Antonio Bandanas, and Penelope Cruz. How do those make you feel?
Giselle: Wow. Well, hearing it all back from you, Patrick, it feels like; whoa! Is that really me? I feel really, I’m honestly kind of, it’s surreal hearing it back when you say it all together. Um, it’s a bit surreal and when I got the publication for sexiest Spaniard, I was like, whoa…too much pressure guys. Um, I, I really feel honored. One of the main things that I was really excited about honestly, was being a #womanOfInfluence because I feel that just now that will be coming aware of this whole #meToo movement and you know, #timesUp kind of behavior that we’re putting a stop to as a females and women, I was doing that a long time ago. There was a lot of offers from big name directors, I won’t name them and put, you know, throw them under the bus at this point. Um, I think they’re, they’re getting enough backlash as is and you know, persecution and it’s all being taken care of now. But I was offered a lot of opportunity, quote unquote, opportunity, uh, to, accel my career “if I”, you know, and there was always some kind of narrative that went along with it. And I always said, no!
Patrick: Good for you!
Giselle: I always said, NO, to the 2:00 AM, you know, hotel room meetings. I said, yes, NO to the Jacuzzi meetings. I said, NO to the, if you do this, I’ll do that, I said, no. So my favorite word was “NO”, and actually a little bit upset that unfortunately a lot of women didn’t know how to claim that voice of their own and one of the things of being a woman of influence is to be able to bread that strength and Moxie, to be able to tell somebody what’s on your mind and not be embarrassed or ashamed because they’re the ones that should be embarrassed and ashamed. So it makes me feel honored, a little bit overwhelmed and also just very, very thankful that I had the ability to say no for such a long time and that being named a #womanOfInfluence could potentially create a lot of change and, and voices, men and women, you know, their voices to be heard. No, it’s an honor
Patrick: No, you’re great and you know, it is for me, just disgusting what men do, what they’ve done.
Giselle: For sure!
Patrick: I am not like that and I am respectful. And the thing is, I wish more men were like that, but they always want to find that they can try and get something, you know, the standard quid pro quo. This for that. It’s all BS.
Patrick: And I don’t appreciate it.
Giselle: Right, yeah!
Patrick: You’re a lady and women should be treated like ladies. And that’s important, so. That’s my two cents.
Giselle: No, I appreciate that the acknowledgement. It’s just very, very challenging to be in those situations, and especially when you have a title like Sexiest Spaniard, it puts a lot of extra pressure where it’s like, okay, sexiest. Well, maybe…
Patrick: Well maybe I can, sure right…
Giselle: Okay, well, yeah.
Patrick: You just tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. See ya later. You’re a stunt woman trained in martial arts specifically, and correct me if I’m wrong, Kapap or Kaipap was, it?
Giselle: Yeah. You said it right the first time!
Patrick: What is that like, and tell me about having this skill and how it’s saved your life many times when confronting physical and verbal abuse in your real life, can you expand on the abuse you suffered if you don’t wish to I completely understand. I was abused as a child, beaten up, threatened, bullied. It, left emotional scars. Even to this day. Tell me why you’re grateful to Bob Yerkes as well?
Giselle: Yeah, so emotional scars can be tremendous, and thanks for sharing that you also endured emotional scars. I think that being vulnerable is a new strength that should be embraced and having the vulnerability to admit that we do have these emotional scars are going to make us more relatable people and of course, stronger overall, I think.
About the abuse that I endured, actually, as a child was of a sexual and physical medical nature. Unfortunately, I got the worst of both worlds, so in getting beat and essentially humiliated in terms of verbal and mental abuse, along with the sexual abuse, it really scared me, like you said. And I said, you know what?
Enough is enough. That happened as a child. And so as I grew to be an adult, I said, enough is enough. I’m not going to put up with this kind of behavior ever again. And so I became a martial art, I guess, student and studied Kapap. Kapap is a combination between Muay Thai and Krav Maga. So it’s really close quarters, hand to hand combat, and it’s lifesaving. I ended up going into training with some of the best and then end up having to be registered with the FBI as a deadly weapon [giggles]. No kidding.
Patrick: Oh, joy. Don’t want to meet you in a dark alley.
Giselle: Exactly! [laughter] So one of the things that I learned was to not only defend myself, but how to properly convey this message to others if they’re perpetrators.
And being that I’m registered with the FBI as a deadly weapon, I was in the park one day and a male approached me and attempted to rape me, and I did some of my initial moves, which is to step back, put my hands up and say, “Please do not step any closer. I’ll have to defend myself I’m registered with the FBI as a deadly weapon.”
Well, that scared the bejesus out of him anyway. Um, and then he still tried to proceed, so I ended up having to, unfortunately put him down, we’ll say it that way. Um, and I ended up going to the police and they continued with the rest of the situation. But I feel that it saved my life. I mean, not only did it save me from potentially being raped, but also, you know, it made me feel a sense of strength.
And the reason I’m so grateful for Bob Yerkes is because once I completed my Kapap training, he really took me under his wing and. Took me to this, we call it the stunt playground. It’s a undisclosed location in Los Angeles where every single amazing stunt person who has ever done stunts for A-list, actors, et cetera, or huge movies, including myself, go and train with Bobby or Keith, who was an absolute legend. I love him so much. We actually did a piece on KTLA together and he’s just been an amazing mentor and a positive male influence in my life who has been so absolutely respectful and offered me as a woman and as a stunt person, and it’s just so wonderful to be embraced by that male energy that’s positive.
Giselle: OMG Yes! Spice and I have gotten in the ring together.
Patrick: Oh, yeah. Gregory has been my friend for 22 years.
Patrick: Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Um, and Dennis is just, he’s amazing, man. He says. HIKE! Danger! Danger Dogs.
Giselle: I love it!
Patrick: Oh, he’s crazy.
Giselle: It’s so cool we all know the same people. Yeah,
Patrick: We do! Absolutely. And she’s like a black belt, isn’t she?
Giselle: Oh, yeah.
Patrick: Oh yeah. She’s good.
Giselle: Oh, no. Yeah. Oh they call her the REAL XENA Princess Warrior,
Patrick: Geez. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. My son, my son did TaeKwonDo and when he was younger, he’s now 12 and can kick the living. You know what out of me, cause he’s 12 and punches me now with a punching bag, um, or as the punching bag.
Patrick: But he received the first, um, tiger cub black belt, uh, for his age group when he was in, when we lived at Tennessee.
Patrick: Yeah. So, and, um, so it was a lot of fun. Yeah. He met the only, um, uh, seven level black belt in the United States, I believe and he, I forgot his name, he’s 71, and it was amazing watching this guy. I forgot his name, but anyway. I commend you for what you’ve done and what you’re doing. That’s amazing stuff. Thank you so much for sharing that.
Now you were in American Horror Story, Baskets. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Bones, Scandal. Better Call Saul, Unsolved starring Josh Duhamel and Jimmi Simpson, as well as the other films like Mothers and Daughters. Tell me about it and your favorite one.
Giselle: Um it’s hard to pick a favorite, Patrick [laughter]. You know, honestly, I feel very, very blessed to have been in the position to not only work all these shows, but opposite such amazing talent. Every single show that I’ve been on, it’s been opposite some amazing talent, amazing actor who has been absolutely so kind and so helpful. One of the best experiences that I’ve had, I can account for is Wess Bentley.
He was in, of course, American Horror Story, and I played opposite him as, you know, his crime partner was solving all these crimes that Lady Gaga was, you know, creating. [giggles] But, um, one of the things that he did right away when I stepped on set and he knew that I was going to be playing his partner on the show.
He embraced me with a huge hug and he’s like, Hey, how are you doing today? You know, Hey, let’s go get breakfast and just want to get to know me a little bit so that chemistry can seem a little bit more organic, like we’ve been working together for years. He shared with me about his life and his family, and it was just so amazing to be embraced like that, you know, working opposite comedians on Baskets, like Zach Galifianakis and legend Louie Anderson was another amazing experience also that I just, I really cherish. And I ended up running into Louie Anderson again cause I also do standup comedy. And again, he was, you know, so thankful to see me and embrace me with a hug.
Oh my gosh. Hey, how are you doing? We took some pictures on the red carpet. I got to introduce him to my little sister, who’s a huge fan of Louis Anderson. So it was very, very memorable. All of these experiences, and then again with that, a list cast, you know, Mothers and Daughters with Sharon Stone’s isn’t Sarandon, Christina Ricci, fricking Selma Blair. That was just so welcoming. Also, honestly, it feels like. I’m a little kid in a candy store who woke up and got everything she ever dreamed of. It was like a Willy Wonka Movie.
Patrick: And let me guess your favorite thing is …. Chocolate.
Patrick: Anyway, you work with at risk youth in several programs and charity organizations, including Every Monday Matters, Stand Up in the Halls, and Students Run LA and, you know you’re the third person I’ve spoken to that is involved in At Risk Youth. Shanese from A&E’s 60 days In and Tucia Lyman, Mothers of Monsters and Intervention, and now you. We need help and it’s frustrating. Can you tell me what you believe would help parents out there that are going through the experience with their teens and how you are approaching it?
Giselle: Yes, absolutely I would love to help it’s such an honor to be a part of these organizations. You know, Forrest Whitaker and his wife are actually the ones that run Every Monday Matters and when I met them, I was just overwhelmed with tremendous relief that such notable people in the limelight could offer help. One of the main things that I’ve learned in working with Every Monday Matters, Silver College, SRLA, all of these, you know, outlets for At Risk Youth is the thing that matters the most, is getting down to their level.
So I think that a lot of challenges come up when, of course our child cause you’re connected to it, right? So there’s this charge that goes into it whereas with somebody that’s disconnected like myself, you know, it’s not my child so I’m able to really hear them out. I think one of the main things that ends up happening and distorts the ability to, um, hear them out is our own connectedness to it.
So to me, it’s a child screaming at me, right? So they’re going, yeah, I don’t give ah, expletive, expletive because of dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. I take myself out of the situation and I hear what they actually said regardless of the expletives, regardless of my feelings about it, I kind of go into a, I don’t want to say it, but like numb place, sort of where I go, or a disconnected place would be rather a better word to use and say, you know what? I totally get it. That does, effing suck, you know, and mirror backs the words to them, because sometimes, unfortunately, especially during the teenage. It’s hard to get our voice heard, and then sometimes we don’t know how to express it and so sometimes there’s anger words that go into it or yelling and screaming that goes into it.
And instead of getting our ego involved and going, you know what? Don’t yell at me, or you know what? Don’t talk to me like that. Instead, coming from a place that’s a little bit more subservient and saying, you know what? I heard everything you said. It would be awesome if you said it in a less aggressive tone, but I totally get everything you said and thanks for telling me in what way I suck. So this way I can better myself. Do you think you can also better yourself by talking to me in a normal voice? That’d be awesome. And listening from that, and that’s all we’re going to get, unfortunately.
So I tend to think of the child that’s yelling at me or going through trauma or trouble as that’s their way of speaking because they don’t have a more, um I guess grown way of expressing what it is that they’re going through and whatever, inner turmoil they might be dealing with. So that’s my, that’s my two cents in my advice, cause based off of everything I’ve seen. I’ve literally like, laying on, I’d laid myself down on the ground at one point.
There was a child that was a teenager girl that was suffering from cutting herself and she was doing self-harm and I just laid on the floor and I said, “Hey, you know what? This really sucks that you do this, but I want to get it right, like I want to figure it out.” She was like, “Nobody ever talks to me. Nobody ever listens,” and I’m like, well, “I’m going to lay here and shut the “F” up and you tell me whatever’s on your mind.” She ended up telling me, she ended up laying on the ground with me, kind of like laying up, looking at the sky, telling me everything, and we came to a solution and an alternative adaptive behavior and she never cut again.
And you know, some of these girls and boys end up calling me mom ‘cause it’s like a, I don’t know, a second mom or something and it’s, it takes a village to raise a child, right? So that’s like the, the saying and I think it’s true to some extent, but those are some of the tools that I can offer as the saving grace is to listen and in ways that we’re not always used to or if we tell them, “Hey, you know what? Write, write me a letter about everything that you’re feeling. Tell me what you think of me,” and be willing to listen to that without an ego.
Patrick: That’s fantastic advice. I really appreciate hearing that. It is a new concept, a new way to approach this I had never even thought about it, so thank you very much for that. Now we’re getting to the end and I want to step Inside the Actors Studio, like the late James Lipton did and he just passed away on March 2nd, 2020 if you remember that show.
Giselle: I do, I do. It was one of my dreams to be on there so this is amazing you’re doing this.
Patrick: So tell me, what is your favorite word?
Patrick: What is your least favorite word?
Patrick: What turns you on.
Patrick: What turns you off?
Giselle: What turns me off? Um, ego!
Patrick: What sound or noise do you love?
Giselle: Birds chirping.
Patrick: What sound or noise do you hate?
Giselle: Screaming and fighting.
Patrick: What profession other than your own, would you like to attempt?
Giselle: Becoming a psychologist.
Patrick: What profession would you not like to do?
Giselle: Being a police officer.
Patrick: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Giselle: Okay, well done good and faithful servant.
Patrick: And now, like James used to do, I’m going to turn the mic over to you Giselle, and talk to our readers and listeners about anything you’d like with the remaining time we have.
Giselle: I’d like to express my gratitude for reading this publication and inquiring about how it is that I think, and a little bit more about my life and I also want to express my utmost, uh, compassion to everyone that’s reading this during this awful time and I hope that everyone stays safe and healthy. Please make sure you have a lot of vitamin C and take care of yourself and stay at home. And, um, the other piece of advice I would love to give to everyone that I always do whenever I go to speak to either schools or to see a keynote speaker and motivational speaker is one phrase that I always leave everybody with. And it really is true because this is how I changed my life from poverty to now thriving and that is:
If you change your mind, you can change your day and if you change enough days, your life will change.
So we’re left with thoughts that we can think of that are negative or positive. But if you change your mind to see things as a positive, instead of: “Why is this happening to me?” We can change it to: “What can I learn from this?”
Just simple things like that that you can change your mind. You’ll end up changing your day to be a more positive, productive day and then enough of those days, if they change over time, truly your life will end up changing. So that’s my piece of advice I give to everyone, and I hope that you take that with you as well.
Patrick: I do. Thank you so much for your time. I wish you all the best in your career to help get a chance to talk again. So have a wonderful day.
Giselle: You too, as well, Patrick.
Patrick: Yes, ma’am. Bye, bye…
Listen to the full audio Interview:
Every Monday Matters: https://everymondaymatters.org/
Students Run LA: https://www.srla.org/