Don’t wait for permission to make a bold choice
Always invest in yourself and your career
Be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally because you never know when you’re going to start a new project.
Casting directors are on your side!
Bringing yourself will always be enough!
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Justina Adorno.
Puerto Rican Actress and Vegan/Animal Rights Activist Justina Adorno is currently starring in the gritty drama FX’s Mayans M.C. (Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on FX and next day on HULU). She plays the role of ‘Stephanie’ aka ‘Nails,’ in the show’s third season, alongside JD Pardo, Clayton Cardenas and Edward James Olmos.
Justina has starred in a wide range of roles including the Netflix series, based on the Russian film The Major, “Seven Seconds,” where she played ‘Jasmine.’ In 2019, she joined the Eva Longoria produced provocative drama, “Grand Hotel” which aired that summer on ABC. While being a short-lived show, Justina enjoyed playing the role of ‘Yoli,’ a character discovering her sexuality and coming into her own by being comfortable in her skin despite the constant comments about her weight. In early 2020, Justina played the part of ‘Steph’ in The CW’s sci-fi TV drama “Roswell: New Mexico.”
Born in the Bronx, NY to Puerto Rican parents, Adorno fell in love with acting when she was attending a magnet school program for acting called PCA (Palmetto Center for the Arts) in South Carolina. She later auditioned and attended South Carolina Governor School for the Arts and Humanities to fully begin her pursuit in acting. She attended Coastal Carolina University, graduated with her BFA in Acting and moved back to NYC. While in NYC, Justina booked a couple of national commercials and appeared in NBC’s 2016 Diversity Showcase.
Having a passion for animal rights, Justina lives a vegan lifestyle, is adamant about using only vegan makeup on set and educates her followers across her social platforms on the abuse that animals endure. She has supported many animal organizations such as PETA, Best Friends Animal Society, ASPCA, Little Wanderers NYC and Animal Lighthouse Rescue NYC. She rescued two cats Catsby and Penni and believes every pet should have a safe home.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Well, how much time do you have haha? I was born and raised in New York and then grew up in South Carolina. Major cultural difference but it was the best thing for my development as a person and an artist. After graduating college, I moved back to NY and pursued my acting career.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Honestly, it may have been a combination of things — watching Disney films nonstop, VHS tapes my parents had hanging around, going to a Catholic school, performing at our holiday events and leading readings on Fridays at the church. Both my parents are also very great storytellers. I guess you can say it was in the stars.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would have to say being able to speak on animal rights and veganism.
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?
Believing I had to straighten my hair in order to book a job! Funny right! I’ve learned that being myself (the way I am) is valid because guess what… there are many people like me who have curly hair. If I want to blow out my hair then that’s cool too but it is not a determining factor in me for getting the job. If it would be, then I don’t want to be a part of a project that can’t see past my hair. I’m grateful I have lots of versatility in my look and that should be embraced not confined.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
MAYANS MC season 3. I’m so excited for the series as a whole! I think everyone is going to be blown away!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Believe in yourself because how can you expect someone else to believe in you if you don’t. If you give it 100 percent and it’s giving you peace and not breaking your head, then keep going.
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?
What we can do is to unite people, it can give understanding, spread awareness to things we find difficult to bring too light. It’s so important to have diversity in the entertainment industry in front of the camera and behind the scenes. It makes for an enriched story. Different perspectives from a diverse group can add so many new colors, shapes, textures and dynamics to a story that wouldn’t be able to come to life through one lens.
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. Don’t wait for permission to make a bold choice
2. Always invest in yourself and your career
3. Be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally because you never know when you’re going to start a new project.
4. Casting directors are on your side!
5. Bringing yourself will always be enough!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do the things you’re passionate about, talk about the things you’re passionate about, continue to learn what you’re passionate about.
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. 🙂
Veganism! It’s the ultimate statement of equality, love and compassion. We need more of that. We are all one. It has tremendously changed my life. I feel much more grounded as a person. My heart, soul and mind feel clearer. By far the best choice I’ve ever made in my life. I’m finally living my truth. It’s the small changes that make a big change in the long run. For example, I never thought that I would only wear vegan shoes. I didn’t even know that was a thing. How can shoes not be vegan? I educated myself and I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed learning about how my actions were affecting the world and all the living beings around me. It’s one step at a time but wow Veganism is the path to peace.
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 mean there are so many people who have helped shaped me into who I am today. There are those who have influenced me in my journey, from my parents to my teachers, to my family and friends, to the strangers I’ve met in the streets of the city who weren’t strangers after all. The more growth I experienced as a person helped me within my career. I needed to learn who I was in order to find my path. I’m still learning every day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you…. To make each day count.” I believe it’s relevant to all of us and pretty self-explanatory. We only have these moments and why not make them count and live as present and as joyful as one can be, regardless of the circumstances. It’s easier said than done but it has truly gotten me through some tough moments in my life and it gives me back that sense of magic about life again when I seem to have lost it.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!