Performing at a Santiago nightclub allowed experimentation with glam and goth. At first androgynous, but increasingly feminine, by age 15 she identified herself as trans, and her family was immediately supportive. Her father later appeared with her on television talk shows.
In 2011 Daniela debuted in La mujer Mariposa, a one-woman stage show based on her own experiences of transitioning. This piece included her singing, and ran for eight years in Santiago. Her first movie role was in La visita, 2015 where she played a trans woman at her father’s wake.
She was approached by film director Sebastián Lelio who was developing a film about a trans woman, but actually did not know any such in Chile (Lelio lives in Berlin). At first she was a consultant to the film, but then it became obvious that she was ideal to play the lead role. The film became Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman), 2017. The protagonist must struggle against rejection and suspicion after her boyfriend dies.
|Vega at Berlinale 2017|
The film won much international acceptance including a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Actress at the Havana Film Festival, and Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Daniela was also a presenter at the Academy Awards – the first openly trans person to do so.
Later in 2017 Daniela played a cis woman in Un domingo de julio en Santiago (A Sunday in July in Santiago).
“As far as her own identity goes, she has stated that if she were born again, she’d choose to be trans, not cisgender – and that she enjoys unsettling the kind of people who can’t cope with who she is. ‘It actually gives me a physical pleasure to annoy conservatives,’ she smiles. ‘I don’t have to be violent, I don’t have to insult anyone – my mere existence shakes those people up.’ " …" ’In Chile, you can’t legally change your gender identity in a straightforward way. If you want to change the name on your documents, you have to go to court.’ She could easily do that, but refuses to – that would mean recognising political oppression.” (Guardian interview)
- Jonathan Romney. “Daniela Vega: the transgender star lighting up the film industry”. The Guardian, 18 Feb 2018. www.theguardian.com/film/2018/feb/18/daniela-vega-transgender-star-film-industry-a-fantastic-woman-interview.
IMDB ES.Wikipedia EN.Wikipedia
The Spanish word 'mariposa' means 'butterfly' but it is also used to mean 'queer'. So La mujer Mariposa can mean either A Butterfly Woman or A Queer Woman.
ES.Wikipedia has a very short account of Daniela's transition: "At age 15, Vega identified herself as a trans woman to her family, who immediately supported her." While EN.Wikipedia is otherwise almost the same as ES.Wikipedia, even this little has disappeared.