WORDS BY PHIL LIMPRASERTWONG
You may recognize Tommy Martinez from his recurring role as Malachai, the leader of the Ghoulies on Riverdale. Some may have even seen him before in various Abercrombie & Fitch campaigns while shopping.
Not only does he already have a successful modeling career under his belt but his acting career is about to take off starting January 2019 as a series regular in Freeform’s newest series, Good Trouble.
In this exclusive interview along with never before seen photos, Tommy opens up about his life and future plans for acting. The actor shares a lot of insightful tips on how to make it as a model and actor in this crazy industry. Find out what we can expect from his new show and future on Riverdale.
Hi, Tommy! Tell us a little about your story. Who is Tommy Martinez?
I always bug out with these kinds of questions, because there’s so much to say. So I’ll keep it short and sweet. I was born in Venezuela, and then moved to the US when I was 4. I was raised in south Florida in a little suburb town where everybody knows everybody. I felt lost for a good part of my life because I never had or found a sort of purpose for life. I went to school in Tallahassee, Florida to take those regular college classes in hopes of stumbling into something...and that’s exactly what happened. I discovered a love for acting. I didn’t feel like I was moving towards anything in college, so I dropped out, packed my bags and moved back home for a year to figure out my next move, which happened to be Los Angeles. Just a kid with big dreams trying to make it in the world.
You’ve had a pretty successful modeling career, how did you get into acting?
Acting is what I intended to pursue out here in Los Angeles. But I started off modeling for their first two years, which truly helped me focus on taking acting classes as well as paying my bills. I never would’ve thought how lucrative. Truly grateful for Wilhelmina and the opportunities that they helped me achieve. With acting, I got the opportunity to do a short film while I was in college. I’ve always admired how actors can portray a character in such compelling ways, but I never thought of myself doing it one day. I thought it was a fairytale and that it couldn’t be achieved. The first day of shooting, an unshakable feeling rushed through my body all at once. “This is it”, I thought to myself. For the first time in my life, I had found a love so strong for something. I had found a purpose and a dream.
What can fans of The Foster’s expect to see in its new spinoff series and your character Gael?
The fans of The Fosters will expect the very same essence and important matters that need to be told on the show of Good Trouble. I play a latino man, who’s trying to find his place in the world with his art, while trying to shape perspective with his creations. Very similar to my personal life. There are HUGE points of my character that, unfortunately, I can’t spill the beans on…You guys will just have to tune into Freeform on January 8th, where it will be told on the first episode. As a latino man myself, I can only try to feel the struggles that Gael goes through in this story, and it’s incredibly important to put on TV.
Can we expect to see you wreaking havoc in Riverdale again anytime soon?
Haha your guess is as good as mine. I recently went to Vancouver for fun and met up with Drew and Jordan from Riverdale. They think its highly likely that I’ll be coming back for some revenge after taking that arrow to the shoulder. Only time will tell.
What’s your favorite type of role to play?
As an actor who’s just starting off in this industry, I’m still exploring myself and the roles I’d like to play. But I have always loved psycho-thrillers. I’m hoping to sink my teeth into a dark story and become my own psycho haha. I just think it’d be really fun because its the exact opposite of me, just like Malachai on Riverdale.
What’s your dream role or project?
Okay so I just watched A Star Is Born and cried my damn eyes out. I’ve always had that little kid dream of becoming a rock star, and the opening scene of that movie had me gripped. Just like how my role of Gael on Good Trouble will create some positive change and shed light on important topics, A Star Is Born definitely shed some light on drug and alcohol abuse. A story with a message and a lasting impact. Thats what I’d like to keep doing.
How does it feel to attend red carpet events and be viewed as a celebrity?
Oh man, I still get the jitters whenever I go to those events. Most of my life has been following the tradition of my family, you know? Getting your degree, finding a job, get married and have kids. So this industry took my mind and body by storm. I still get crippling anxiety from it, but I know that it’ll get better overtime. Just knowing that Good Trouble will change many lives gives me the confidence and energy to accept this path. The word celebrity still freaks me out haha.
What keeps you inspired?
Emotion. The passion to live and feel everything I can. From the good, to the bad. I have so much I want to learn and experience…I’m plagued with curiosity to know myself and the world around me.
Aside from modeling and acting, what else do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m obsessed with rock climbing. I practically go every day that I can. I have two Harley Davidson motorcycles, and I give myself any reason to get out for a ride. Photography is a big part of my life, looking back on photos I’ve taken from my past trips, or just any trivial moments that I’ve captured take me back to that exact moment and I relish the memories. So when I’m old and senile, I can flood my mind with life past and smile.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What’s your recipe for success for anyone looking to pursue a career in either modeling or acting?
For modeling, try and get a meeting with an agency. They always have weekly open calls for aspiring models. If they’re interested, they’ll definitely throw a contract in your face to get you working. No matter what size, race, how you identify, etc. The world is much more diverse than it has ever been. But first step is definitely try and get in a room with representation.
Now with acting, the love for it has to be genuine and true. There are so many ways that can get you exposure, even if you’re just starting off in the industry. I started off with that short film in college, but once I got to LA I immediately signed onto LACasting.com. It’s a site where thousands of people are looking for talent in commercials, student films, TV shows, etc,. Submit submit submit. Get yourself out there and do what you can to get your foot in the door. Take acting classes! It made a world of difference for me and truly brought me out of my shell. You’ll also be surrounded with likeminded people who have the same dreams as you do. Eventually get a headshot, build up a resume and send them out for representation. Even if its a small agency, if you speak from the heart and absolutely love acting…that will show and you’re bound to find somebody that wants to work with you.
Let yourself shine in those rooms and keep your head up. There will be plenty of times with “No” attached to it. Consistency and discipline is my motto. You have to keep driving forward, because if you give up, you’ll never know if there was a yes right around the corner.
If you were a book, what type of book would you be and why?
A story of adventure. Finding yourself through this life, finding meaning for it.
If you could help any charity or organization, which one would it be and why?
It’s a non-profit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to the people in developing countries in the world. We’re all humans, and we deserve and have the right to live. If we’re able to help, in anyway we can, our fellow brothers and sisters of the world, bringing them a necessity to life is one thing we should do. Donate what you can, and know that you are saving a life.
Catch Tommy as Gael in Freeform’s new series, Good Trouble coming in January!