This special feature was made possible thanks to the Gabo Foundation and the Fund for Research and New Narratives on Drugs. You can read the original in Spanish on El Planteo.
Coming out of the cannabis closet isn’t easy for anyone, but if you’re a recognized star with millions of followers across social networks, it becomes a little more complicated. For Maria Gabriela de Faria, the event resulted after an arduous internal search in which she had to delve into her darkest side (complicated, in turn, if people remember you from a television program for teenagers). But somehow, it was easy for her to deal with that energetic polarity because she has been doing it since she was 5 years old, the age at which she began her career as a child actress. For years she starred in roles where her angelic and innocent face was fundamental, but more recently, Maria Gabriela has embarked once again on exploring her shadow.
“I was born in Venezuela. I did my first commercial at 5 years old and I loved the world of entertainment. Since I was 16 years old, I left the country and dedicated myself fully to this industry,” says Maria Gabriela from her home in California, the epicenter of entertainment productions. “It’s a very creative environment, and most of the people who work there are consumers; I’m one of them.” Maria Gabriela was a star from an early age thanks to her main character as Isabella Pasquali in the Isa TKM series, a story about a teenager who faces philosophical questions and pillar moments of life narrated through a story of first times ( first love, first school dance, first heartbreak, etc.). She was a Nickelodeon girl, a trans-regional reference for an entire community of fans that grew and continues to grow (through ISA TKM clips that are still on YouTube).
Most of her audience regards her as the girl next door, which is why when Maria Gabriela decided to come out of the cannabis closet in front of more than 1.5 million followers, the community greeted her with complaints. “For several days, I received direct messages criticizing having publicly said that I was a consumer. I knew it was going to happen—but it was something I had to do,” says Maria Gabriela. “Using cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms has been part of my creative process and I cannot deny that consuming them in a ritualistic way can be very beneficial.” But it took him a long time to get to that point. In addition to having grown up in a religious family and a closed society, given her profile in the industry, she was always reminded to maintain her holy-girl personality.
“It began to generate a lot of internal conflict for me knowing that neither I nor society would have any problem if I published a photo with a drink in my hand, but if I uploaded one showing the CBD that I take or the joint that I legally smoke in my state of residence, it would be problematic,” she continues. “I was self-conscious because I had that need for everyone to love me. It was an important moment in my life; I developed my critical capacity. It became clear to me what I liked and what served me on my way. I couldn’t be hypocritical with my lifestyle.” According to her, the trick is being compassionate. With those who are scared away by the topic, but above all, with oneself. “It’s a job that’s done daily—opening our hearts to open minds. Hearing other people and being willing to admit that we were wrong is also important in the process of personal growth.”
Maria Gabriela speaks with a conviction rare in someone who was a child acting star, someone used to being showered with admiration and attention. She could enjoy her fame and continue to make series and movies (her most recent film was a horror story based on an exorcism in Mexico), but the reality is that she is very connected to a greater purpose. Today she spends her time advocating veganism, human rights, social justice, and the need to rethink drug policy. “I am in a very interesting moment of life; I just turned 30 and I have started to create my own rules after experimenting with different things that have helped me get out of the rat race in which society indoctrinates us.” Her ultimate quest: is to redefine success.
The Venezuelan actress is no longer a little girl. Maria Gabriela is outspoken and always ready to break Latin American taboos—yet she has never let the dark side get out of balance. “I use cannabis a lot to meditate or to read a script. It helps me imagine the lives of the characters I study. I never thought I would be a consumer, but I was always curious. When I started smoking with my husband in a more conscious and connected way, I recognized ganja’s therapeutic and spiritual value. I did not want to depend on drugs, and cannabis helped me to calm the colic and anxiety attacks that I dealt with for a long time.”
Fame disconnects many people from reality—and it happens to Gabriela too. Not in the sense that she cares little about being in contact with her audience, but rather that the standards that govern the majority are not the same ones that make her vibrate. “The system doesn’t want us working on our emotions or using entheogens to heal,” she says. “We have to disconnect from that matrix and take responsibility for our actions and the future of the planet. The important thing is to start small. I was a vegetarian before I was vegan. I used little cannabis before integrating it into my daily rituals. I started with a commercial and ended with a great career. In the end, when you do things with your heart, everything connects.”
More from El Planteo:
This content was originally published here.