You just released your single “Mannequin” with Goldsnatch. What was it like writing and recording this single?
It was a blast! I started Goldsnatch with my best friend Nat Tokyo. We’ve been friends for 10 years, so basically we had the best time ever–it’s just me and my best friend hanging out. Whenever we get together, it’s just a ball of energy, we have a really good time, the songs are a lot of fun. I think they really reflect how much fun we have.
This is a collaborative piece. What have you learned about yourself and your creative process while working on this piece?
I think what I’ve learned about myself is my ability to be open and try new things. Music’s been something I’ve always been around. I have a lot of friends in the music industry and I’ve just loved music and dancing and singing always. This is definitely a little bit outside my comfort zone since I’m so used to acting and being on screen, so this is a whole new creative way to express myself. So I definitely learned that I’m open to pushing myself, to write songs, looking for beats, having an ear for stuff, and evolving that talent, as well, which is a lot of fun.
Who are some of your musical inspirations? Who is someone you’d like to work with in regards to your music?
Oh wow, I mean Prince is definitely an inspiration. I wish I could say him, but we all know he’s not around anymore. But Prince would be one of the biggest musical inspirations. We also enjoy a lot of freestyle. I think freestyle is one of my favorite genres from back in the day that we had a lot of fun with. If I could choose anything or anybody, I’d choose Prince.
In your acting career, you’ve worked with the likes of Jake Gyllenhall, Michael Pena, and Jason Stathem. What was it like to work with such big stars?
At the time that I got those jobs and started working with them, it was pretty big for me. It was kind of like, you get your first movie and it’s with Jason Stathem. You’re coming up and starting to act and get opportunities, and for someone at my caliber, it’s great to work with someone like the names that you just mentioned. It’s great, it’s fun! I’ve been very lucky that everyone I’ve had a chance to work with has been very welcoming, very nurturing in a sense, where starting off, they’re very helpful. They’re great partners to be in scenes with, so I’ve been very, very fortunate.
Your new show The I-Land on Netflix premieres on September 12. What can you tell us about this project?
I’ll tell you one thing–it’s definitely filled with a lot of mystery and suspense. It’s one of those shows where you’re kind of just thrown right into it and you, as well as the people on the island, realize that there’s something out there that shouldn’t be. It’s a sci-fi show. We have these 10 individuals who wake up on an island with no recollection of who they are, or where they came from, or how they even got there. You go along with them to figure out who they are, why they’re there, and what actually made them be on this island. It’s really interesting. It’s really one of those shows where you’ve gotta watch the whole thing and the answers come out every episode. There’s cliffhangers, every episode you find out more and more answers. It’s definitely a fun little journey.
What was your favorite part about working on The I-Land?
Being on that island! We shot in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The first location which is basically where the island is, the beach parts that you see on the show, it’s a place called Samana in the Dominican Republic–the northern part of the Dominican Republic. It was just so beautiful! And the people were so great, such amazing crews. From the beginning, we have an ensemble cast–about 10 of us are there everyday–and we just got along so well, we have like a little family. We’d finish working and there was no service whatsoever. I’d wake up at 4:00 in the morning and take this dirt, bumpy road to this beach somewhere and there was no service, so you’re completely disconnected from 5:00 in the morning to 6 PM, so it really allowed us to hang out and not be on our phones. It was actually a treat! And the beaches were absolutely gorgeous! They were the type of beaches you drew as a kid–yellow sand, palm trees, blue water. It was amazing. I was just very grateful to be there and grateful to be working in such a beautiful environment. The crews were amazing, everyone in production was amazing, so it all was a very pleasant place to be working. After work, 12-14 hours, we’d all go back to my place and cook dinner. We were all very connected, we were a family! There’s no other word for it than that! We all still stay in touch. We shot this a few months ago, and even some of the production and the crew in Santo Domingo, we all still stay in touch.
Who is someone you’d like to work with in your acting career?
Pan’s Labyrinth’s Gillermo del Toro is someone that I’ll definitely love to work with at some point in my career.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What goals do you have in terms of your acting and musical career?
I would definitely love to venture into more action stuff. I really do love doing action movies. I definitely see myself being in some form of that and producing. I’m starting to produce a show and a movie that we just kind of wrote and put together. I would say producing, more movies, and for singing, just to continue growing! Maybe finally come out with an EP and tour? I think that would be a lot of fun. It’d be great: 5 years from now, I have a new movie out, and I’m touring, and have a show that’s in production. I definitely have my plate full, I mean it’s so much fun. When you do what you love, it’s not really work.
If you were to give your past self one piece of advice, what would you say?
Oh damn…Enjoy it. Enjoy it a lot. I’ve really worked hard, and I’ve kind of been non stop to get what I have. Consistency really is key. I’m not taking away what I did, but I definitely wish I kind of enjoyed things more. So I’d say slow down. Does it make sense if I say slow down, but keep going?
By Sam Spotswood
Talent Natalie Martinez @iamnataliemartinez
Photographer Stan Evans @stanevansphoto
Creative Direction Aleksandar Tomovic @alekandsteph
Styling Ambika @styledbyambika
Makeup Carola @carolagmakeup
Hair Matt Fugate @mattshair
Production @BELLOmediaGroup x @MaisonPriveePR_LA x @styledbyfranzy