It’s better to have a small role in a really good story than to have a leading role in a project you don’t believe in. I used to make everything about me; I focused on how many scenes or lines I had and kept hoping for more. When I changed my focus to the overall story, I found more work, and it was work that was more fulfilling.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Eddie Martinez.
Eddie stars as Vic Soto in USA Network’s series, “The Sinner,” as a former Marine and rising star detective who works alongside Ambrose (Bill Pullman) at the Dorchester Police Department. Eddie was originally born and raised in Colombia. Eddie’s family relocated to the US when was nine years old to New York City. Eddie began his acting career and he started acting in live theater. Eddie’s first break was getting a role on the iconic show “Law & Order.” Shortly after, Eddie moved to Los Angeles.
Eddie has made appearances in “The Unit,” “Weeds,” and “Dark Blue.” His additional television credits include guest star roles on “Orange Is The New Black,” “Narcos: Mexico,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Major Crimes,” “NCIS Los Angeles,” and “Colony.”
Martinez’s film credits include the critically acclaimed “A Better Life”, SXSW award-winning film “The Abduction of Eden,” “Powder & Gold,” “The Night Stalker” starring Lou Diamond Phillips, “Flavor Of Life” opposite veteran actor Pepe Serna, and “Bel Canto” starring Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe. Recently, Eddie starred in feature films the “Kill Chain” and the 2019 Sundance Film Festival award-winning film “The Infiltrators” which was also the opening night film at the 2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival LALIFF.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Bogota, Colombia until I was about 9 years old. When my parents split up, I moved to NYC with my mother, older brother, and older sister. I spent the rest of my childhood in Astoria, Queens. My siblings are older than me, so all of them pitched in to take care of me. They worked hard and managed to put me in private school. When I would visit my dad in Colombia, he would shower me with love, attention, and lots of gifts. I think he felt guilty since he wasn’t there to see me grow up. So, I was pretty much spoiled all around.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
In college, I was nervous about failing a speech class because we had to make three speeches in front of the whole class. Since I was terrified about speaking in public, I thought I was going to fail. My professor gave extra points on the final if we auditioned for the Speech & Theater department on the final grade and additional points if we made the play. I thought I was going to need all the help I could get, so I auditioned. The director of the play cast me as the lead, and the next thing you know, all my plans changed. Two years later, I transferred schools and changed my major. A little side note the director of the play became my friend, and years later he was the best man at my wedding.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There have been many interesting things, but there is one that stands out. I was in Peru on my way to Machu Pichu. One of the guests at the hostel I was staying in finished reading a book at the same time I finished reading a book, we switched books and never saw each other again. I started reading the book she was reading and loved it, became one of the best books I’ve read. Fast forward to years later, they adapted that book into a film, and I ended up being cast as one of the characters in the book. The film is called “Bel Canto” I played the Vice President.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was first starting out as an actor, I had an audition for a commercial. I showed up to the audition in a tank top, pajama pants, and sandals. I walked into the office, and it was full of beautiful people all dressed up, not in pajamas. I misunderstood what my agent had said, and the character was not supposed to be in pajamas. Needless to say, I looked like an idiot that just got out of bed and drove to the casting. Plus, getting out of the car, I stepped on dog poop. I was wearing sandals, and the poop got on my heel. Through this, I learned to always take the extra time to understand the description, to double-check with my reps, and to never walk on grass in Los Angeles.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
There is a cool film project that I might do. I’m not able to talk about the project yet. Since everything is on pause, I’m taking the time to finish writing a script I previously started.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
One: It’s a breath of fresh air to see different faces on screen that reflect a more accurate version of real life.
Two: Audiences get tired of seeing the same stories over and over again. Stories that depict different cultures told in authentic ways by the people from those cultures is good business and a great way to show we are more alike than we are different.
Three: Young minds are highly influenced by the content they watch, which is why it is important that children are able to view positive story lines and are able to view themselves on the screen.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- YOU are responsible for the work. In the beginning I spent too much time waiting for someone to find me work, until I realized I could go out there and find or create work on my own.
- It’s not just one opportunity, then you make it, you miss one opportunity, and more will come along, but how well are you prepared for when they show up. I would be on hold for a really big project, and the role went to someone else, I thought “That’s it! That was my one shot to make it” I would feel like crap until the next big audition. It took me a while to figure out that there are no big auditions, but that they were simply auditions. As long as I would stay in the game, opportunities will come, I just have to be ready. Also, if you do or don’t get the part that doesn’t define who you are. I had to realize that my life is great with or without that project. I think that is the hardest thing to learn.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. Some people find consistent work right away, some people have to grind longer, one is not better than the other, everyone has their own journey, no need to compare your progress, just remember your why.
- If you focus on the work, everything else falls into place. I used to worry too much about what I thought people were looking for that sometimes I forgot this was supposed to be fun, but when I focused on just doing the work, I remembered why I fell in love with this in the first place.
- It’s better to have a small role in a really good story than to have a leading role in a project you don’t believe in. I used to make everything about me; I focused on how many scenes or lines I had and kept hoping for more. When I changed my focus to the overall story, I found more work, and it was work that was more fulfilling.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Just focus on the work and remember your why. Ask yourself, why did you decide to do this? If that burning passion is not there anymore, then go do something else, there is no shame in that, it’s okay to change your mind. But if it’s still the thing that fulfills you, then the grind will never feel like hard work.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire any movement, it would be to get money out of politics. I don’t know what would be the best way to do that, but I would surround myself with people way smarter than me and with way more influence. So they can enable congress to make changes that have allowed corporations and lobbyists to write the laws instead of our congress. I believe many of the social problems in our country stems from our politicians working for big corporations and not their constituents.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been very lucky to have support from the beginning. One of them would be the director that I mentioned above. We became friends, and he introduced me to this art form, that became my life, he was the first person that believed in me, even before I believed in myself. The other is my wife, I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. We’ve been together since college, and she has always been my biggest cheerleader.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I’ve read so many things that lead me to believe that it’s all about what you believe. If you believe something is possible, the universe will give you the puzzle pieces for you to put together. You just have to open your eyes to what is right in front of you, sometimes many people (including myself) are lost in our minds looking so far ahead we miss the blessings right in front of us.
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 just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Barack Obama. I think he was a really good president, a really smart man, and a genuinely kind person. I didn’t agree with some of the decisions he made during his presidency. I would love to have a private conversation with him over a few drinks to get some honest answers..lol. I would love to hear his thoughts on how this whole political machine works and why he wasn’t able to accomplish more of the things he thought he would. Also, I would love to ask him if the government does have contact with the aliens.. lmao.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @eddiemartinez11 Twitter: @jeddiemartinez
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!