Miami Living Magazine

Art Basel

Miami Living Magazine features the best Miami has to offer. Click on any magazine below and enjoy. You can download our free app on iTunes. Ideal for iPad and iPhone users.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 152 of 212

A Woman of Character This winter, Screen Actors Guild Award winner Justina Machado will live One Day at a Time on Netflix, and instantly become a household name 'round the world in the process Words by Martin Haro Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas It has been a long time coming – but, then again, no. Not really. You probably don't know this, but Chicago-born actress Justina Machado's first reported screen credit is an ABC Afterschool Special from 1993. In 2017, Machado is catching the Netflix wave as the lead of the streamer's original reboot of the Norman Lear-produced sitcom One Day at a Time, which aired on CBS between 1975 and 1984. Y' know, during simpler times, when streaming referred only…OK, mostly to an act or instance of like, water flowing. But I digress. For a character actress with Puerto Rican roots such as Machado – who for a good two decades toiled away on TV shows as varied as NYPD Blue, ER, Arsenio, The Gregory Hines Show, Early Edition, and Angel, while appearing in films like She's So Lovely and A.I. Artificial Intelligence before breaking big in 2001 with ALMA Award-nominated and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning work on HBO's Six Feet Under – this is as good as it gets. Except things are only getting better. This part – the kind that goes the way of an actor once, maybe, twice in a lifetime…the role that changes everything – this is her reward. This is the opportunity she's earned for putting in the work. "I've been at it, at acting, for a while, and it's been an amazing ride," Machado told Miami Living while on the phone on her way to a photo shoot in Los Angeles on a sunny Tuesday morning last October. "This is a high for me." [Writer's Note: The crafting of this story commenced before Election Day. By the time this story was ready to be filed, the country had a new president-elect: Donald Trump.] To be fair – because that's Machado's modesty talkin' – One Day at a Time is the latest in a post-Six Feet Under series of career highs. Last summer, she played a plum part on USA Network's Queen of the South, and, a few years ago, she appeared in the hit The Purge: Anarchy and in Halle Berry's The Call. This moment might be a culmination, but it's also a new beginning. The best part is everything that came before put her on a most perfect path to get here – to dazzle Lear himself (more on that in a moment) and soon, anyone on Earth with a Netflix subscription. "My career," she said in response to how her Latina-ness has shaped her lifework (or not), "it's just been. It's been my life. It all feels right. I feel good and proud about where I am and about where my friends and peers are. I cannot complain." My question – which she understood, yet smartly redirected – sought to gauge her take on the rise of minority talent and storytelling in Hollywood and beyond. Machado admitted to having had "moments in which I may have questioned this or been annoyed by that," but was quick and resolute to say she is thrilled to be in a position to do more. To tell a more diverse story that, perhaps, will help fill in the rich tapestry of the United States of America. In other less political words, Machado is here and ready to do the work and let the work speak for itself. As her work always has. A new Day for a new Time Netflix's new 30-minute (ish), multi-cam One Day at a Time premiering on January 6 will center on Machado's Penelope, an Army vet and single mom raising two kids (a teenage daughter and a tween son) with an assist from her old-school Cuban-American mother, who will be portrayed by EGOT Rita Moreno. The actress said the show – for which she will take on Spanish-dubbing duties for the very first time – is full of laughs and takeaways, and that, given the freedoms of streaming, it will get to say more. "Without the constraints of commercials we can be more provocative," she said, noting that the folks at Netflix have been nurturing and open to how the powers that be want to depict in accurate, relatable fashion the lives of Penelope and her family and friends. (The first season will touch upon myriad parenting themes, veteran affairs, and the landmark Pedro Pan operation of '60-'62.) To that end, ALMA Award-winning writer Gloria Calderón Kellett (her résumé includes The CW's iZombie and TV's How I Met Your Mother) will mine from her own background as a Cuban-American to write the show and collaborate with her leading lady to deliver a fully realized character viewers will be able to embrace. "I can fully speak about that experience," the show's co-showrunner (with the Emmy-winning comedy writer Mike Royce) said in a separate phone Q&A. "I'm first generation – the embodiment of the American Dream – and very proud of my family's journey and their hard work and their love of family." Calderón Kellett acknowledged what a "privilege" it is to tell Penelope's story for herself, as well as her family and those of us craving to see more of us on the rapidly changing small-screen landscape. "Representation is everything," she said. "It's been such a rewarding process working with Norman [a vet himself], crafting real stories about real issues, and getting his and Rita Moreno's perspectives, which are invaluable." That she and team will get to do this with Machado at the forefront? Well, that's simply a case of good fortune. "Justina came in to audition and we were blown away," said Calderón Kellett. "It was as if Penelope already lived in her. We'd been seeing other actresses, but she was the first one that Norman saw, and he immediately liked her. We got really lucky." Looks like for Justina Machado, hard work and, yes, taking it one day at a time, clearly have paid off. And now you can binge it to believe it, too. Keep up with Justina on Facebook:, Twitter:, and Instagram @JustinaMachado ML

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Miami Living Magazine - Art Basel