You might know Daniela Botero from the cover of Playboy if you live in Colombia, or Madame Figaro if you live in France; her ad campaigns for the likes of L’Oréal, John Frieda, and Azzaro; or her editorials for just about every beauty and fashion magazine that matters in Europe and abroad. But the one she’s always had a soft spot for is Maxim. “I did a couple of covers for Maxim Mexico and Maxim Colombia,” she says with a warm smile. “And now I’m in Maxim U.S., and I’m very happy.” Welcome to the big leagues.
Some are no doubt already Googling “Daniela Botero” and “nude,” but a spoiler alert is in order. You will find her scantily, but always tastefully clad—but that’s it. “I’m very comfortable with my body, but I think it’s nicer and more elegant when the model doesn’t show too much,” she tells us. “I think sexiness and sensuality is about attitude and how you move your body. And I’m Latin so I have a Latin body. It’s more curvy. I’m not a European-style, very skinny girl. So, for me to be sexy is very easy. Sometimes I need to be less sexy, actually. It’s a good problem to have.”
With emerald eyes, cover girl beauty and curves to die for, Botero is not just a pretty face. It so happens the lady can act. Just take a look at her in the Fox America hit series, Run, Coyote, Run, a black comedy dealing with immigration issues in the border town of Naco, Arizona. In it she plays Catalina, a Colombian girl who gets by working in strip clubs before marrying the town’s corrupt mayor.
“I dress in cheesy western style, with cowboy boots and a lot of makeup,” is how she describes her look on the show. “He treats me horrible, horrible, horrible,” is how she describes her much older husband on the show. “At the end of season three, he starts having an affair with his secretary, and she puts a bomb in the car and kills him,” is how she describes his demise.
Run, Coyote, Run shoots in the Mexican desert south of Tucson, a place that required an all-day commute from Botero’s home in Miami. Even when working for Fox/Disney, productions in the Latin-American market are subcontracted to local entities with micro-budgets. “This town is in the middle of nowhere,” she laments. “One horrible hotel, nothing to do, it’s a ghost town. You can see the border wall the whole time.”
At any rate, her shows make money. Run, Coyote, Run was number one in Brazil, the continent’s largest market, and so was Betty en NY, the Latinx version of Ugly Betty on Telemundo. In that, she plays the director of a modeling agency, a role she could play in her sleep. “The pretty girl, a little sexy, bad girl, so this was very easy.” It should be easy, since she studied at one of the finest acting schools in the world—Lee Strasberg Institute in New York, whose alumnae include Marilyn Monroe, Barbra Streisand and, more recently, Scarlett Johansson and Angelina Jolie.
“It was a great experience,” she recalls. “The more I work in my career, the more comfortable I feel, the more successful I am on camera. It’s because I feel comfortable working on the character, developing the character. I feel comfortable not being myself, not being pretty and sexy. I enjoy changing in my characters.” That confidence comes from studying full time in the conservatory program. “I learned comedy is harder than drama because it’s all about facial expression. But when I’m myself, I’m comical. I don’t need to do too much.”
She didn’t need to do too much to get into modeling, either. There she was, a 17-year-old student abroad in Paris, attending classes by day and working as an au pair by night. One afternoon, while sitting in a cafe, a woman asked if she had any interest in modeling. She didn’t. “I was doing journalism and communications. It was never in my mind to become a model. I knew I was beautiful and I knew I could do it, but I was afraid to, ‘cause I’m not 5’ 11”, I’m 5’ 8”.”
In the end, she was coaxed into an appointment with Women Management Paris. “I was making eight euros an hour as a babysitter. So, I tried it and two months later I was working constantly,” she says, still in disbelief. “So, I just decided to keep myself working cause I was making a lot of money.”
But it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows in the beginning. After her first test shoot, the photographer called the agency and said, “This girl needs to practice her modeling, cause I was the worst model ever,” she laughs, looking back on it. “I didn’t know how to pose. I was just so tight. With years of practice, I’ve learned that being a model is to not model. The more you forget about the camera, the more amazing the pictures are.”
Amazing pictures lead to amazing offers. Her other current series, 100 días para enamorarnos, a romantic comedy, is on hiatus during the pandemic, but should air sometime next year. In the meantime, she hopes to put all that blue-chip theater training to good use kicking ass.
“I see myself doing action films,” she says of the next phase of her career. “I’ve been training with great people. I think I’m going the way I want to go.” Of course, many aren’t going anywhere in the film business until production fully opens up again. So, for the past few months Botero has been sheltering in place in Miami, learning new dishes in the kitchen and taking English and acting courses, but also just resting.
“I love acting but I love to have time for myself. After this pandemic, I think it’s important to have a non-stressful life. I love to exercise, I love the ocean, I love to listen to music and go to different restaurants,” she sighs, sitting back and reminiscing about the things she missed most. “I always say time is more expensive than diamonds, ‘cause you can never gain time again.”