“I was so afraid to upset anyone or to speak up when I felt something wasn’t right that it ended up stalling my success early on. If someone told me no, I just accepted it and moved on and would find out a lot later that it was actually hurting me to be this way more than helping. I wish someone would have told me a long time ago to NEVER take no for an answer, NEVER compromise your goals and NEVER under no circumstances be afraid to speak up. I was always so afraid to shares my goals and dreams with anyone because I didn’t want to be laughed at or made fun of, and now I don’t give a damn! Your either with it or your not!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing actor, producer and director, Eric Martinez. Aside from his film accolades and his 6 new movies coming out in 2018, Eric has created the “I Got Your Back” anti-bullying campaign. “I Got Your Back” partners with businesses, educational institutions and celebrities to spread a positive message to individuals of all ages. Eric was a victim of bullying himself and has a tremendous story of overcoming heartbreak, disappointment, feeling helpless, and wanting to give up on life to become one of the most sought after new Latino Actors in the entertainment business. He is also currently writing his first book titled; RELENTLESS
What is your “backstory”?
Wow! that is tough because my backstory has so many twists and turns lol! I am currently writing my book that talks about everything in my life that I have had to endure and go through to get me to this point. In a nutshell I came from nothing and have had to fight for every inch of success or forward motion that I have right now. I learned early on that no one is going to hand you anything and that life does not care about your feelings or position. It will kick you in the teeth over and over again, it will drop you to your knees and torture you. I learned to grow a thick skin and fight thru the adversity, unfortunately I chose a career that is very tough to make it in. It’s all about status and who you know or what you can provide; talent doesn’t necessarily mean success in the entertainment business. Growing up in an abusive household I a lot of times had to create my own world to get away from the yelling and abuse, to somehow trick my mind into believing that it was all a part of a terrible nightmare I was living. Like I said I am writing my book and it will go into depth about my life, career and family. The book is currently entitled “Relentless” Lights, Camera…..No Action.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting/directing/performing career?
Lol! from bombing auditions to forgetting lines and falling asleep on set were do I begin! One time I was auditioning for “Better Call Saul” and Bryan Cranston whom I’m sure you all know from “Breaking Bad” actually read with me! And let’s just say I was having some severe stomach issues that day! I was sitting outside in the holding area waiting to be called in and not knowing at all that Bryan Cranston was in there, praying to God that my stomach would hold out. I get called in and there’s Bryan standing there and asked me if I was ready, now I don’t know if you have ever had “stomach issues” like this, but the last thing you want to do is be moving. So we start to read and my body starts to tighten up because when your standing for some reason everything wants to go south! Bryan sees the look on my face as we are exchanging lines and sees how distressed I look and says “relax and just read the lines”. Meanwhile I’m squeezing so hard I am about to pass out from cutting off circulation to my brain. Somehow I managed to get through the audition and ran out of the building, clearly I didn’t get the part! Luckily I did end up getting on “Better Call Saul” eventually. Another time I messed up an audition so bad that I basically threw myself out. The horror stories in this business are endless! I one time forgot my lines in a film where me and Vivica Fox where going back and forth and she went along with it and improvised with me! I was so embarrassed! I apologized to her and she was so gracious about it. But honestly the audition process is the worst because you feel so vulnerable and at the mercy of these casting directors. I literally get sick to my stomach when I am going on a call or have to do a taped audition on my own to send in, and no matter what I feel like I am always somehow going to humiliate myself.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well besides acting in several new projects I am now getting more into producing and will also be making my directorial debut very soon. I am located in Albuquerque, NM and have always said that I want to pull a “Tyler Perry” here! My production company Dream House Productions currently has 6 films I am producing and 4 of them I am directing. I am also developing and producing a new reality show call “The Publisher” with Lincoln Salazar who is the publisher of Cigar&Spirits Magazine which will show day to day what he does and who he interacts with like recently he had Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya at his studio shooting for their new Tequila. We will visit some of the highest level spirit brands and cigar factories around the world. Also if you follow me on social media you know that my platform is Anti-bullying and my campaign is called “I Got Your Back” so I am always looking for opportunities to help spread the word on the importance of being kind and being good to each other. I have spoken all over the country at middle and high schools, corporate functions and events. You can see more of my campaign at www.iamericmartinez.com I am also co-producing an 8 million dollar film that I convinced the writer/producer who happens to be related to Tyler Perry to change his location from Atlanta to Albuquerque, NM based on the story.
Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Oh geez! that list is way too long! Everyone from Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to Kevin Hart and Diddy! I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet some incredible people in the business and some not so incredible people! lol! I won’t mention any names but not everyone you see on TV or Movies is the same in person is kosher. I have had some pretty bad experiences with celebrities and I hope that I never come off like that to any one. Kevin Hart was one of the nicest guys I’ve been around, super chill and willing to offer some words of advice about the business. I’ll never forget meeting one of my favorite actors at Sundance and almost spilling my coffee on him, Nicholas Cage. Also the next year at Sundance I helped Alec Baldwin push his car out of the snow! People used to ask me “Who have you met?” now it’s like who haven’t I met?!
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
There are so many people who inspire both personally and professionally that it’s hard to say. I will say though that my kids inspire me everyday to be a better father, better man and hard worker. I want to give them the life I never had, the opportunities I never had. I want them to live life to the fullest and I know how hard I must work daily to make that happen. I have an incredible God fearing woman in my life that inspires me to push harder when I’m tired and believes in me even when at times I don’t believe in myself. Professioanally Steve Jobs really inspires me, his story is incredible and his stubbornness was admirable. He never gave up through all the trials , he always found a way to make it work…..make his dreams come true. I think that’s why I work so hard today so one day I will be overbooked not OVERLOOKED. Tyler Perry inspires me, I have followed his career since day one, and his ability to going against the grain is amazing! From the Madea era to his current status of partnering with Oprah, Tyler has never given up and when it looked impossible to everyone else, he made it possible. I think that one thing a lot of us have in common though is that we have come from nothing and respect the hustle, we understand what it’s like to struggle and be overlooked so when your blessed with fame and position you don’t take advantage of it and I respect that. I live by the saying YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Hollywood?
RUN!!!!!!!! LOL!!!! No not really, the advice I would give is to have thick skin, take rejection well because your going to hear ‘NO” a lot! Follow your heart and don’t listen to anyone around you that responds negatively about your career choice. I say all the time “It takes a special kind of stupid to want to be in this business and thank God for blessing me with that much stupidity”. I would say be multi-faceted and be willing to work harder than everyone around you. Learn to love the losses and be ok with constant change, so many people who get in this business don’t truly understand what it takes and how defiant you must be, your work ethic must be manic! But I think one of the biggest things is don’t complain!!!! ever!!! not to anyone!!! Don’t whine about losing opportunities or a role, don’t whine about what other’s are doing or getting. Stay focused on your job and your goals because if you spend your time complaining your not speaking your goals into existence. Your defeating yourself with negativity and doubt. Don’t let thoughts of fear or doubt even enter your mind or allow anyone else around you to talk about it either. I tell people all the time that YOU HAVE A CHOICE IN THE MATTER! you can choose to be positive and you can choose to be negative as well. Remember this whether you think you can or think you can’t…….Your Right. You must speak your goals into existence. I would say that you cannot get into this business to be famous or rich, if that happens fine, but don’t make that the goal. You have to have a passion for the arts and do it because you love it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve always said that if I ever get to a place in my career where my voice means something, then I will use it for good. Anti-Bullying is my main platform. Although I support and speak on many other topics when I am out doing my motivational speaking engagements, Anti-Bullying is the bases of everything. I was a victim of bullying at a young age and all through out my school years. I was an easy target being so small and socially awkward. I believe if you have a position of celebrity at any level than you should use it for good. Unfortunately there are a lot of people in my business including athletes that don’t believe this and act very entitled, my hope is that I can be contagious in my efforts. It’s why I admire Ellen DeGeneres so much, her constant effort to spread kindness and help those who need it so impressive. I want to open charter school for the arts, I want to start scholarships for students and families that may not have the means to go to college. Bullying is at an all time high and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I get so many messages from around the world about this and unfortunately it’s usually something bad, like suicide. One of the biggest things I preach in communities and every school I visit is for teachers and staff along with parents to be Pro-Active and not Re-Active. Don’t wait until something bad happens to finally address the issues at home or your school. So many of these incidents can be avoiding if you just pay attention to the signs. These kids are a lot of times screaming out for help and feel like the only way anyone will listen is to do something drastic.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be Patient — When I first started in the business I wanted everything to happen right away and when it didn’t I would be furious. I went to one audition and couldn’t for the world understand why I didn’t get the part and become a big movie star right off the bat. I wish someone would have told me to slow down, learn the process, understand your position and enjoy the ride. It would have saved me so much stress and wasted time worrying about things I could not control.
2. Have Fun — This is something that to this day I struggle with, I am so uptight about everything. My work ethic is manic and I sometimes need to be reminded that I can enjoy the roses along the way. But when I was first starting out I thought that you had to be serious everyday and that nonsense like smiling, laughing and enjoying yourself was not a tolerated trait in the business. So unfortunately I made my life hell and those around me hated my attitude.
3. Be Bold and have NO Fear — I was so afraid to upset anyone or to speak up when I felt something wasn’t right that it ended up stalling my success early on. If someone told me no, I just accepted it and moved on and would find out a lot later that it was actually hurting me to be this way more than helping. I wish someone would have told me a long time ago to NEVER take no for an answer, NEVER compromise your goals and NEVER under no circumstances be afraid to speak up. I was always so afraid to shares my goals and dreams with anyone because I didn’t want to be laughed at or made fun of, and now I don’t give a damn! Your either with it or your not!
4. Have Faith — My whole foundation now resides on my faith in God. Nothing I do is without him and in the past I thought I was in total control, I thought it was all my doing. My faith and belief was not evident in my life back then and it showed. I was reckless in my pursuit of success and didn’t care how I got it. I wanted to take all the credit for my achievements and no responsibility for my down falls. It wasn’t until a good friend in Christ came to me and was allowing me to vent about my career and business. About how bad it was and how unfair I felt I was being treated and why doesn’t anything ever go my way, to which he said “your focused on the wrong things, put your focus on God and everything else will fall into place”. It took me a long time to figure this out mostly because of my pride and ego, but when I finally did, he was right. Things started falling into place at all turns, it wasn’t that I still didn’t face trials and lost roles or had set backs, just now I knew that God’s plans are way bigger than mine.
5. Know your craft inside and out — This is a big one! I meet so many extras that want to be stars, guys who have cameras now calling themselves directors and film makers, and so on. Yet have no idea what they are talking about or what the business entails. Know what your getting yourself into, this is not a part time business and I had to be put in my place several times when I first started out because I thought I knew it all. Now that I have 20 plus years in the business I cannot stand talking to someone who has 2 years, 3 years, 4 years in the business acting like experts. I’ve had people with literally no experience in this business trying to tell me how to produce a film or act in a movie. I remember being that person!!! I wish I could back in time and slap the hell out of myself!!!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
ELLEN DEGENERES AND/OR TYLER PERRY!!!!!!!!! I would love to sit down and talk with them and pick their brains about the business and what it took for them to make it. They both have that Midas touch! If your seen on Ellen’s show or one of Tyler’s movies your a star! And I mean that in the most respectful way, the bigger my platform and the bigger my status, the more I can help. Jay Z once rapped “I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them, so I got rich…..gave back…… to me that’s the win/win” In fact it’s on my bucket list! to be on Ellen one day and to be in a Tyler Perry movie!
Originally published at medium.com