While all of the Pixar Coco Event interviews were fabulous, one stood out as the most upbeat and joyful – Anthony Gonzalez and Alanna Ubach. They voice Miguel and Mama Imelda in Disney Pixar’s COCO, and if you’ve had the chance to see the movie, you know just how talented and amazing they are. Check out the videos of them singing live and learn more about who inspired their characters.
Thank you, Disney, for inviting me and hosting me for the #PixarCocoEvent. All opinions about how I want to be Mama Imelda in the next life are my own.
How Anthony Gonzalez and Alanna Ubach Enjoyed the Coco Premiere
Anthony: “Oh, that was amazing. It was so much fun, doing all of the press. And it shows all of the work that all these people have been putting in, and, yeah. I just love it, and I can’t wait for everyone else to see it.”
Alanna: “It was so surreal. I was sitting in between my mother, who is 78 years old and my husband. And we just had a little boy. So, between the two of them… He was just floored, and he didn’t really know that I could sing like that. I mean, you know, he’ll hear me in the shower… but this was really important. And my mother used to tell me about this story of Llorona. So, it was a big surprise for her to hear this song that I sang, because it’s about that woman, and it is about that character that she used to talk about when I was a little girl.”
I had mentioned previously how sweet it was to hear your husband rave about her after the premiere. We were standing close enough to them in the theater after it was clearing out, and I could hear Alanna’s husband gushing about how beautiful his wife’s voice was. It was such a special moment to hear the pride in his voice.
We asked Alanna to sing a little bit for us, and she chose to sing a song she sings to her baby when she puts him to sleep. She is the perfect Mama Imelda!!
Where Did Alanna Learn that Song?
Alanna: “My mother. My mother used to sing it to me. Mi mamá es de Sinaloa, mi papa de Puerto Rico. And both of them actually knew that song. It’s about trying to coax a burrito, a little donkey, to get up the hill. It’s like, “Come on little donkey, get up the hill, so you can have your corn.” That’s what it’s about. It’s ridiculous.”
About Seizing the Moment
“Seize Your Moment” is a common theme and phrase shared in COCO. We asked Miguel about his favorite moment.
What is your biggest ‘seize the moment’ so far?
Anthony: “I loved singing a lot for a lot of commercials and movies and press. I got to sing for Coco, y’know, and it’s just so much singing as Miguel. I had so much fun singing the wonderful lyrics, and it was just so much being Miguel. I had so much fun with the Grito. Especially that scene where…Hector is teaching me about the Grito, I’m like, “Oh, no, I don’t know about this.” Yeah. I just really loved doing Gritos.”
Not only did Anthony do a little Grito for us, but he also sang “Remember Me” live on the spot! He killed it.
On Who Inspired Alanna Ubach for Mama Imelda in Coco
Alanna: “This is based on my Tia Flora. When I was a little girl, I remember her inflections. She was very grand. She was a very ornate character, and such an important figure growing up when I was a little girl. I remembered it being eight o’clock in the morning, she had a full face of makeup on constantly, and she always wore her high heels. And at Christmas time it was, when she entered the room, she was, “Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad!!”
I was so put off by her as a little girl, because she was just too much, but now as a woman in my early forties, I can look at this woman with such respect. And she had such passion. She was the DNA of my family, and she was very passionate and had this stoicism that was so admirable when I was a kid, growing up. I never forgot her inflections. To me, she was very sing-song-y, and she spoke the way she spoke Spanish when she spoke English, and so I thought, ah, I’m going to make this character. I’m going to base her on my Tia Flora.”
I wish you all could have been in the room with Alanna when she spoke. She is so animated, and so passionate. It was like being in the room with my family.
What Traits does Anthony Share with Miguel?
Anthony: “I feel like me and Miguel just both want to pursue our dreams. Miguel looks at his idol, like he wants to be just like him. That’s the quote he says, “I want to be just like him.” And I have a lot of singing idols and acting idols. I want to be just like them, too. So I’m very similar to Miguel, because we both just love the music, and we both care about of our families, a lot, and we know how important that celebration of Dia de Los Muertos is. That’s what I love most about really doing the voice of this awesome character.”
Anthony just lights up a room with his positive energy and smile. He is one the happiest, most grateful kids I’ve met, and that positivity filled the entire building.
What Do You Want Audiences to Take Away From Coco?
Anthony: “What I hope that the audience gets from watching this wonderful movie is to really, if they have a secret passion, to share it with the world. And do what they want to do in life, and do what they love. And to really, really know about the wonderful culture, Mexican culture, and the wonderful celebration of the Day of the Dead. Maybe, who knows? Maybe they will start celebrating, because it’s a universal celebration.”
He nailed it. What an absolute pleasure to interview Anthony Gonzalez and Alanna Ubach. Talk about living life to the fullest.
I hold my breath every time I ask my friends or family if they enjoyed Coco. Not because I’m supposed to promote it, but because I’m personally invested in the story. Luckily, they have all loved it! We never celebrated Día de los Muertos traditionally in my house, because my parents are from Bolivia. However, after watching Coco, it IS a universal celebration in remembering and honoring our ancestors. I hope you all take the time to go see Coco, because these characters – Miguel and Mama Imelda – are larger than life and will make you smile (and probably cry!).
COCO is in theaters NOW!
Here are more Coco interviews from the #PixarCocoEvent: