It’s important that the youth hears and sees different perspectives on screen to grow and learn compassion and empathy outside their norm.
When there are people of different backgrounds working together it makes for a more colorful piece of art and in my opinion, it is more compelling.
It’s also inspiring when you see people who look like you or come from the same places that you’re from, excelling in the arts. It motivates you and assures you that there are multiple communities that you will be welcomed into when you get there.
I had the pleasure to interview Latina actress and vegan/animal activist Justina Adorno. Justina stars in the sizzling and provocative, Eva Longoria and Brian Tanen produced, ABC drama, “Grand Hotel” (airing Mondays at 10/9c after “Bachelor in Paradise” on ABC). Opposite Roselyn Sanchez and Academy Award-nominee Demian Bichir; Justina plays ‘Yoli,’ the black sheep daughter of the extravagant Mendoza family who owns the luxurious Riviera Grand Hotel in the seductive city of Miami Beach. The summer series debuted as the highest watched summer drama series in four years when it made its premiere June 17th, 2019 on ABC, and has been sizzling in high ratings ever since. Born in the Bronx, NY, Justina Adorno got her elementary education as a student in Catholic school where she developed the understanding that the world was based on storytelling, either in a religious or a non-religious way. As a pre-teen she moved with her mother to South Carolina and attended a magnet program for acting called PCA (Palmetto Center for the Arts) where she fell in love with theater and 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 NBCs 2016 Diversity Showcase. She landed a few roles, one of them being the crime drama Netflix series, based on the Russian film The Major, “Seven Seconds,” where she played ‘Jasmine,’ a reoccurring role. Justina is a woman who fuels, drives, and propels game-changing vegan and animal-rights initiatives. She leads a purely vegan life and prides herself on being a fantastic chef. While living in NYC, she volunteered at local animal shelters and organizations such as Little Wanderers NYC and Animal Lighthouse Rescue NYC. Although a plant-based diet might seem daunting, her Instagram account — @justinaveganjourney — shows how there’s inspiration everywhere by showing how creative a vegan diet can be. Justina is bicoastal, residing in New York and in Los Angeles with her cats Catsby and Penni and enjoys painting, poetry, writing music and anything involving interior design.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Justina! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in the Bronx and lived there with my family until I was about 10 years old. I then moved to Columbia, South Carolina and finished schooling there. As a child, South Carolina was a place for me to safely explore my environment, giving me freedom in ways I couldn’t have had in the Bronx. However, I knew at a very young age that for me to grow, I had to leave my small town and get back to my roots. In 2013, I moved back to New York to pursue my career.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
For as long as I can remember, I always dreamt of being either a vet or an actress; anytime there was an opportunity for me to perform I took it. In high school, I auditioned for an acting program and then auditioned for a boarding arts school. I continued to study acting in college and after graduation I signed with an agency and moved to New York. By 2015/16 I started investing 110% of my efforts in my career.
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?
For my audition for Seven seconds, I dressed up as a Catholic school girl and after I recorded my slate, casting was like … “Justina what’s up with your outfit did you just get out of school?” Turns out the description only said Catholic girl. So, I disheveled myself and then booked the job! I learned it’s all about how you handle the situation and to make light of any situation.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve just been cast as Steph in “Roswell, New Mexico” on the CW. It will return in 2020 and I’m so excited about it. I grew up watching the original show (starring Shiri Appleby and Katherine Heigl) with my mother. It’s pretty cool to do something that’s full circle.
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?
- It’s important that the youth hears and sees different perspectives on screen to grow and learn compassion and empathy outside their norm.
- When there are people of different backgrounds working together it makes for a more colorful piece of art and in my opinion, it is more compelling.
- It’s also inspiring when you see people who look like you or come from the same places that you’re from, excelling in the arts. It motivates you and assures you that there are multiple communities that you will be welcomed into when you get there.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
- I wish someone told me my weight wouldn’t get in the way of me booking the “right” role.
- I also wish someone told me to leave my hair natural for my headshots.
- I wish someone told me that if I don’t give 110 percent to my career and put everything else on hold, then my career would be on hold.
- To sign up for internships and programs.
- That self-tapes mattered just as much as going into the room
Which tips would you recommend to others in the entertainment industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take on projects that you’re passionate about and continue to learn about your passions.
You are a person of 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 — no more animal abuse. That is my dream! I believe that’s already in the works and I’m so grateful to be clear minded to be a part of it and to continue to spread the word and share with others.
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?
There have been so many people in my life that have helped me along my journey. My mother being one of them. I’ve always felt supported and my mom always believed in me and my dream, so I never doubted myself in this journey. My teacher, Monica Bell, for sure inspired me and always pushed me as an artist in college. My old manager, Josselyn Herman, and old agent, Michelle Peacock (she believed in me from the moment she saw my work and gave me that extra boost of confidence). The most recent thank you goes to Marci Philips (Executive Director of Casting for the ABC) who put me on tape with “Grand Hotel.” She saw something in me and made sure my best takes were sent to production.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Come what may” — a quote from Moulin Rouge. It helps me every time I’m holding on to something and it reminds me to let go and let what’s supposed to be just be.
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. 🙂
There are a few since I look up to them for their work. I would say Kate Winslet, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rosario Dawson and Drew Barrymore. They were some of my first influences that taught me that playing a strong confident woman with edge and vulnerability is inspiring. They helped me embrace all sides of me.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @justina.justina Twitter: @JustinaAdorno / Vegan Instagram: @justinaveganjourney You can also visit my website: Justinaadorno.com