Disney’s film Encanto is nominated for three Oscar awards this weekend, including Best Animated Feature. The movie was an instant hit with viewers, and songs from the film’s soundtrack immediately went viral on social media.
Singer Adassa, 35, plays Dolores Madrigal in Encanto, one of the main character Mirabel’s many cousins. Known for her signature squeak, Dolores may seem quiet, but she can hear everything.
A singer who has toured and performed with singers like Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Ciara, and Missy Elliott, Adassa is no stranger to taking care of her body and voice—although she says preparing to voice an animated character couldn’t be more different from singing and dancing onstage.
Adassa recently sat down with Women’s Health to talk all things fitness, wellness, and food. Here’s the full breakdown of her fitness philosophy, from the workout tip Kevin Hart taught her to the one dessert she always saves room for:
She takes resistance bands with her while traveling.
Adassa’s fitness routine has to be easily modified, since she’s often traveling for performances and other events. She looks for workouts that are quick and don’t rely on heavy equipment, so she can do them whenever she feels her body needs to move.
She keeps resistance bands in her luggage for leg and upper body workouts: “I feel like you can get a very nice, all-over, well-toned workout on the go,” she says. Plus, they’re portable—even if she’s performing until 3:00 a.m., she can grab a band or two and get a sweat session started in just a few minutes.
For a quick lower abs and butt workout, Adassa pulls a resistance band up over her thighs and sidesteps while crouched in a squat. She says she first learned the move from actor Kevin Hart. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna take that and I’m gonna do it.’ And now I’m all about it,” she explains. She’ll do a few reps right before she goes onstage during a show or while she’s waiting around at a convention.
And, Adassa is all about cardio.
After every interview (yep, including this one), Adassa takes a few minutes to do some jumping jacks. “It makes me feel like my whole system just comes alive again,” she says, adding that she loves the way the move helps activate her muscles and get her circulation going. If she’s wearing heels, all the better—that way, she can tone her calves too, she tells WH.
In the gym, the treadmill helps her prepare for performances. Adassa vocalizes while she walks or runs to increase her stamina and build lung power. She says the exercise is perfect for helping stabilize her core and getting her body used to moving in weird ways while still giving an accurate performance.
Hydration is key, too.
Of course, all that moving around requires *lots* of water to keep Adassa hydrated. She tries to drink at least three liters of water a day, sometimes a gallon if she does an intense workout on top of her already-busy schedule. Vita Coco coconut water is another favorite, she says. Adassa adds that, when she’s hydrated, she notices a big difference in her skin and mental health. Her mood is boosted, her brain fog clears, and she’s ready to tackle whatever comes next.
Adassa chooses foods that help protect her vocal health.
She eats a mostly plant-based diet, which means getting enough protein is critical. Hummus and beans are staples, although she sometimes eats chicken. She’s also a huge fan of kale salads topped with tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, or Greek salads with plenty of feta cheese on top.
And, she could eat fresh mangoes and papayas all day, every day. Adassa loves to cook, too, especially arepas (mom Julieta Madrigal’s specialty in the film). Beyond Beef is a favorite ingredient, and vegan chorizo makes the perfect arepa filling, she says.
When it comes to her vocal health, Adassa looks for foods that will enhance her voice. Green apples are ideal for snacking on in the studio because they help produce a clearer sound, she explains. And although she loves cheese (especially fried cheese), she won’t eat any before a performance, since dairy creates extra mucus that can affect her performance. Afterwards, nothing is off-limits!
Adassa says she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but she loves Oikos peach- or berry-flavored yogurt topped with a drizzle of honey for dessert. She’s also a fan of the occasional sweet drink, like Coca-Cola when she needs an energy boost or Goya Malta when she’s craving sugar. Her perfect end to a perfect meal? Flan—always!
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Getting COVID-19 took a major toll on her voice and body.
Two months before she was cast in Encanto, Adassa had COVID-19—then, she got sick again when she booked the part. She had to start from square one, relying on Ka’Chava protein shakes to fuel her body. “That was the only thing I could eat to stay alive because my body was just not processing foods,” she tells Women’s Health.
Ka’Chava is gluten-free and packed with antioxidants, and the chocolate flavor is her favorite because it has no aftertaste.
But the experience also helped her prepare to play Dolores in the movie. Adassa had done voiceover work before, although she quickly found out that animation is completely different. She had to learn how to act while only moving her upper body, not her feet, so her voice could still be caught by the microphone.
In Encanto, Dolores Madrigal is soft-spoken, mostly whispering or chatting quietly with the other characters, aside from her signature squeak. Adassa had had plenty of practice speaking softly to her children when she was sick, since she didn’t have the energy to raise her voice. She found it easy to slip back into those tones in the studio.
“Sometimes, tragedies can lead you to the path that you’re supposed to be on,” she says of the experience. As for her future in animation? “There are many projects to come that I’m going to be able to do in that realm because I love it now.”
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