EXCLUSIVE: Catalina Sandino Moreno on Balancing Motherhood and Career: ‘Your Priorities Have to Be Clear’

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Ever since her breakout Oscar-nominated turn in 2004’s Maria Full of Grace, Catalina Sandino Moreno has been working consistently in Hollywood and proving her versatility in a wide range of films, like Fast Food Nation (2006), Love in the Time of Cholera (2007), Che (2008), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) and hit TV shows like FX’s The Bridge and FOX’s Red Band Society.

This year, the in-demand character actress is starring in two more films: J.C. Chandors critically acclaimed gangster film A Most Violent Year and the independent film Medeas and shell start work on a third movie—the cocaine drama The Godmother (opposite Catherine Zeta Jones)—this spring. The Colombian actress clearly has a very demanding career, but Sandino Moreno has an equally demanding job at home: raising her six-year-old son (whom she had with husband David Elwell in 2009) and the actress says finding a balance between Hollywood and motherhood isnt always easy.

“I think it’s very difficult to juggle those two,” Sandino Moreno tells EXCLUSIVLee.com. “Your priorities {have to be} very clear. I think you can do both, but {it’s about} knowing who comes first and what comes first. After that, everything is a piece of cake, I guess,” she says.

Still, Sandino Moreno admits that her busy schedule — and constant traveling — do take a toll on both her and her son.

“I usually take him with me, but now that he’s in school I have to be more conscious that he has to stay — although if he has a long weekend I’ll take him with me. So he travels a lot,” she says.

Adds Sandino Moreno: “And it’s just hard for him and it’s hard for me, so I’m trying to keep us very close byI speak to him all of the time on the phone. Thank God for technology — I do face time — and its nice to know that although his mother is not {always} present, that I’m always there and I’m aware of everything that he’s doing,” she says.

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Catalina Sandino Moreno at the Academy Awards in 2005

Sandino Moreno — who is one of only three Latinas to ever be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars and the first (and only) Colombian actress to be nominated for the Best Actress award — says that it’s important to her that her son sees her work ethic and learns to value hard work.

“It’s nice for him to see that I am a working mother, because thats how I grew up — seeing my mother go to work every single day,” explains Sandino Moreno. It just encourages you and gives you strength and gives you respect for these people that are just working for you, she says.

And although her career makes it impossible for her to be with her son all of the time, Sandino Moreno says when they do spend time together, its always precious. “It’s like a honeymoon,” she says with a laugh.

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site PEOPLE.com; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine, AOL.com, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.