Cristela Alfonzo's life inspired her Cars 3 character
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Cristela Alonzo says some of her own life was used for her character in 'Cars 3'.

The 38-year-old actress was born in Texas and for the first eight years of her life her family were homeless and squatted in an abandoned restaurant after her mother, Natalia Gonzalez, left her abusive husband, Adalberto Alonzo, and she often went hungry and had skin problems.

When she was 18 Alonzo started studying theatre but have to drop out because she could not afford the tuition and she has said her own personal life helped develop her character Cruz Ramirez in the third installment of Disney Pixar's 'Cars' franchise.

Speaking to Collider, she said: "Half way through the production I met with John Lasseter (director) and thank him for letting me be a part of the movie.

"I started telling him about my struggles and getting to the point in my career when I could be in a Pixar movie.

"They added a lot of my life into her character and seeing a lot of my life. It was a nice surprise.

"There's a speech in the middle of the movie where my character says 'dream small Cruz' and that is what my family all told me to do. To dream small so if I didn't attain them I wouldn't be heartbroken.

"When I see that moment, I see Cruz and myself. It is a nice real moment in it. It's about showing those people who motivate other people need to be motivated themselves."

Alonzo also revealed that her character initially started out as a male character but as the film evolved she was changed into a girl.

She also admitted she didn't actually know she was being offered the role until she had a meeting with Pixar.

The actress said: "When I got offered the role I didn't know I was being offered the role. Pixar wanted to meet me and didn't tell me why.

"That's when they told me about the 'Cars' story and I was like 'you want me to be in it?'

"You never think you'll be in a Pixar movie. But I remember leaving the meeting and saying to my agent 'do whatever you can do to get me into the movie'.

"Two days later I got the call and I remember how excited I was."

This article originally ran on celebretainment.com.

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