Claudia Zevallos Talks A Snowy Day in Oakland’s Message of Hope, Community, and Dreaming Big

Leaving home to forge your own path in life comes with a bevy of challenges, and coming back home after being away comes with its own unique obstacles, especially if you’re also part of a close-knit neighborhood. These elements are all central to the delightful new film A Snowy Day in Oakland, which centers around Dr. Latrice Monroe, who returns home and opens up a psychology practice in her old Oakland neighborhood. People don’t exactly embrace the idea with open arms, but it could be the key to keeping the community and neighborhood intact. Two vital members of the community are the daughter and father duo of Angelica and Jesus, who own the local bodega. had the chance to speak to Angelica actress Claudia Zevallos about the film, including how it blends African American and Latin cultures and tackles issues of family, community, and psychology in a funny and charming way.

That unique mix is part of what Zevallos adored most about the project, as was the hopeful message the film will leave fans with. “Oh my God. A Snowy Day in Oakland, it’s a magical comedy. It’s a magical comedy that is filled with hope, love, dreams, desires, and while you’re literally laughing out loud. What attracted me most to this project, and especially my character Angelica, is that she’s a dreamer. She’s a hard worker. She loves her community. She adores her father. There isn’t a day which goes by that she doesn’t just value so much of the sacrifices her parents made to bring her to this country to give her the best opportunities there are,” Zevallos said.

(Photo: People of Culture Studios)

“A lot of people have been asking me, ‘So what have you done to prepare for this character?’ Matthew, I haven’t done a thing. I’ve been so lucky and honored to have had the chance to play Angelica because I felt so heard and understood as a Latina. Therefore, I felt blessed. I thought, ‘Wow, what a role.’ What a way for the writer and director Kim Bass to represent us, to understand us, to help us be heard in this African American movie, which it ends up being a Black and brown movie,”

Part of what feels authentic in A Snowy Day in Oakland is the mix of cultures, especially the mix of black and brown cultures that is a major part of so many communities. So many families are a mix of cultures unto themselves as well, and it’s wonderful to see that represented on screen.

“Yes. Actually, my cousins are Black and Brown, Robert and Paul. Hi, Robert and Paul. My grandfather was always just so proud of the fact that he not only had mixed grandchildren, but my aunt who married my uncle, Walter, who is African American, had two children before he had Robert and Paul with my Aunt Nuri Goodall, and their names are Walter and Chris,” Zevallos said. “My grandparents, we all welcomed Walter and Chris as, ‘They’re my cousins,’ you know what I mean? We just always felt so proud, we’re Peruvian, to be able to extend our family. My other aunts married Caucasian men. So we’re just a complete, I guess you can call it A Snowy Day in Oakland kind of a familiar.”

(Photo: People of Culture Studios)

The story really kicks into gear when Dr. Latrice Monroe (Nicole Ari Parker) leaves her San Francisco psychology practice after a breakup. She then opens up a private practice named HeadShop in her old neighborhood, and while the community is hesitant to open up initially, this leads to the community becoming even stronger down the line.

“Here’s the thing about the therapist coming into the block. It’s so odd, but then again, we feel so lucky because it’s a shake-up,” Zevallos said. “It’s exactly the shake-up that we needed. Because if we were already familia before, after the shake-up happens, it’s just all the pieces get put back together in an even better way. This is when we open up and come together in a stronger way. When those things happen, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, brown, white, Asian, from wherever, when we all come together, anything is possible and that’s when our dreams are able to come true.”

“So it’s exactly what the block needed, for the shakeup for this psychologist to come in, and for somebody to tell us that it’s okay to be you, and it’s okay to say what you’re feeling because you’re not the only one and you’re not alone in this,” Zevallos said. “That we, too, are going through what the barbershop couple are going through, what the pastor is going through, what the daughter and the father in the bodega are going through. What the designer who wants to be worldwide is going through. What Glock 9 on the block is going through.”

(Photo: People of Culture Studios)

“So it doesn’t really matter who plays what part because in all different stages in our life, we’re all of these different characters. That’s why I think this film is resonating so much with different people as they are seeing it because we are all of these characters in different stages in our life. We all want love. We want to be loved, we want to be united, we are hopeful, and we all have dreams,” Zevallos said.

Returning home after some time away can lead to friction, but it can also bolster the family unit in new ways, as you learn to appreciate some of what you learned along the way and your family and friends also learn to appreciate your new skillset and experiences that you’ve cultivated since you left. Then there are times you just need a place you know to leap forward again.

“Exactly, exactly. Sometimes you just need to go back to square one to get to know yourself a lot better, to find yourself again,” Zevallos said. “When there are so many things happening in your life, you just go back to square one and rebuild, rebuild stronger. It doesn’t mean that everything you’ve conquered or not conquered up to that point doesn’t matter and doesn’t count. Sometimes when you go back to square one, you find yourself and you get to know yourself much deeper, and there’s nothing like home.”

With A Snowy Day in Oakland completed, I had to know if Zevallos would want to jump into the superhero world at all, and it turns out that would be a dream come true. “I would be honored. I would be honored because I think more than a comic book character, more than a drawing, I think what these characters stand for is hope and how to overcome big obstacles,” Zevallos said. “How to never lose hope, never lose focus on your goal. And always when you fall, get up and keep going no matter what. Always be doing good for humanity. So I would be honored and it would actually be one of my dreams come true.”

A Snowy Day in Oakland is in theaters now and will hit Prime Video, iTunes, and STARZ on May 2nd.