Just days after her audition last spring, the veteran reggaeton singer, who has performed alongside artists including Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, Ciara and Snoop Dogg, started feeling so sick that walking and talking at the same time left her so exhausted she’d faint. Two emergency room trips provided frustratingly few answers, but doctors believed Adassa was suffering lingering issues from a covid-19 infection a few months earlier. When casting director Jamie Sparer Roberts called to tell her she got the role, Adassa’s husband, a music producer who also serves as her manager, covered the phone’s speaker with his hand and whispered, “We need to tell her that you can’t do this.”
But Dolores — a cousin of protagonist Mirabel with the power to hear even the slightest noises, down to a nervous eye twitch — was a dream role for Adassa. Like her, the character was Afro-Latina, and the story was set in Colombia, the birthplace of Adassa’s parents, who immigrated to the United States before she was born. Adassa saw so much of herself in Dolores that in her interview with directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard, she pulled out photos of her mother, father and grandparents. She told them how singing had been a dream for her mother and for her grandmother, but it had never come to fruition in an entertainment industry that has long rendered Afro-Latinos nearly invisible on stages and screens.
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