The actress and author’s book and new film were inspired in part by her black Lab, Macarena

February 02, 2011 12:45 PM

It was during a hike through Southern California’s Runyon Canyon six years ago that Tanya Wright saw an ad for adoptable black Labs. The actress’ 25-year-old brother, Barron, had recently been killed, and the grief was overwhelming her. When she saw the ad, she didn’t think about it; she just called and offered to foster one of the pups.

When they first met, the puppy knocked Wright down and showered her with kisses. The connection to the dog – a black Lab “with a little tuxedo situation going on” – was so strong that the fostering immediately turned to adoption. Her Macarena, like the dance.

The now-6-year-old dog is obsessed with tennis balls and has a way of making people laugh. Every time Wright, who plays Deputy Kenya Jones on True Blood, calls out for Macarena during their walks through Runyon Canyon, people chuckle and say, “That’s your dog’s name? That’s insane!”

“She’s been a great source of joy in a way that humans are sometimes not,” Wright tells “She teaches me how to keep it light and get out of my head.”

Wright’s relationship with Macarena also partly inspired a project, Butterfly Rising, a book and film she would write, direct and star in.

“At that time in my life, I was going through change,” Wright says. “I was contemplating my life and what I wanted to do with it. I think the dog was such a vital part of my healing process that it seemed strange not to include her in this story that I was writing.”

Macarena even plays one of the dogs in the film, a story about two women who take a road trip together. It was her first time on a movie set, but the pup was right at home.

“She’s my child,” Wright says. “She gets it from her mom. She was a natural.”

Butterfly Rising the book is available for purchase on Amazon. To find out more about the movie, go to

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