LOS ANGELES - From standup to television to the big screen, comedian Cristela Alonzo's career is shifting into high gear.
After 11 years on the comedy-club circuit, she got a self-titled sitcom that aired for a season on ABC. Now, she's cruising into a big role in the animated sequel "Cars 3."
Being in a Pixar film is giving the actress several of those "pinch-me" moments.
"Oh my God, is this happening? I don't understand it," said Alonzo. "I think it will take a while to really understand the bigness of it."
During the course of lending her voice to the role of "Cruz Ramirez" in Pixar's latest animated film, the filmmakers got to know, and like, Cristela so well that they adapted the character to better suit her. She praised the filmmakers for not just thinking about diversity when casting, but actually getting it right.
"You know, for me what I thought was mind blowing was that when I started going to record they asked me for my input," said Alonzo.
"And to have somebody really listen to you and understand that when we talk about diversity, we talk about giving people opportunities, but Pixar not only gives them they help build the opportunity with you. Working on this film was probably the best thing I've done, just because they were so loving and so accepting and so open to everything that I wish... people need to know how great they are in telling these stories."
Reflecting on what this opportunity means to her brought tears to Alonzo's eyes.
"Well because I really mean it," said Alonzo. "I mean honestly I only say things that I mean and I think that it's very important for kids that are growing up that look like me to know that if they have a dream like this that they can not only chase it but achieve it and know that there's companies like that telling stories that really teach future generations valuable lessons."
The G-rated "Cars 3" opens in theaters June 16.