Karrie Martin: FROM LA TO L.A.
By Cody Downey
Click aqui para español- > Karrie Martin de Louisiana a L.A.
From her time as a young girl, Karrie Martin was a fan of the arts from watching television shows and movies to being a dancer. However, until she went to college, she never thought of being an artist as a possible way of life.
“When I went to LSU, truly, I didn’t even realize that you could pursue a career in acting,” Martin said. “My sisters and I always joked that it was the chosen ones that would get it.”
Her interest peaked though when she found out that one of her sorority sisters was in the theater program. Martin then decided to take some acting classes off-campus and discovered how much she loved it. “Although I didn’t pursue full-time until I graduated college, it was something that just brightened my day,” she said. “It gave me a new outlet of expression that I truly loved.”
Martin’s newfound love of acting would take her to Los Angeles and eventually take her into the lead role of Ana Morales in the Netflix Original Series “Gentefied.” Before moving to Los Angeles, Martin had lived her whole life in Louisiana. Born into a family of Honduran Americans who was raised in the South, she said that she always felt that she had her family and culture around her. According to Martin, her parents were her first real role models. “They always gave us that sense that we could be whoever and do whatever we wanted and set our minds to as long as we worked hard,” she said.
The decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting was very difficult because of her strong connection to family. “I think it was that move which I did with my sister, who is also an actress, that made it so much easier,” she said. “You want that grounding feeling all the time and always around you.”
Martin said that the move helped her get outside of the bubble that she lived in and discover who she was as a person and actor. “I grew up in L.A. essentially,” she said. “My formative years were definitely there.”
A couple of years into her move to Los Angeles, Martin started to work as an intern at Betty Mae Casting to learn about what to do in the auditioning room. Through her time as a casting assistant, she helped cast for numerous films such as “Creed II,” “Troop Zero,” “Dolemite Is My Name” and “Bad Boys for Life.”
According to Martin, her knowledge of film and television helped her in the position allowing for her to bring up actors her peers may have not heard of. “That became a really fun process for me to bring in actors that they hadn’t seen or wouldn’t have otherwise seen if I hadn’t thrown that name out,” she said. “It became a really awesome collaborative effort on a lot of projects that I was able to do.”
In terms of translating her work in casting to her work in acting, Martin said the experience helped change the way she approached going into an audition. “From the little bits and pieces that I would take from actors I had been admiring all my life, getting to read with them in the room, that was beyond educational for me,” she said. “It changed my confidence in the room just seeing how the other actors, who had been working forever, approached the audition. They completely took control of the room and took their time as opposed to coming in with so much anxiety.”
Though Martin loved casting work, she made it clear that she was an actor first. During this time, she had done one episode of roles on television series such as “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Purge.” However, her big break would come with “Gentefied.” After being passed on for a role, she was brought back in by the casting director, who she had made friends with, to audition for “Gentefied.” Martin received a call back within a week and felt like the environment presented was one she wanted to be a part of.
“I left and remember calling my sister and saying, ‘All I want is to be their friend.’ I had never been in such a welcoming room like that,” she said. “I loved their energy and that was the same energy that they had on set from the auditioning process to the last day we filmed.”
“Gentefied” follows a trio of cousins who work to help their grandfather hold onto his taco business in an ever-changing neighborhood. Martin’s character of Ana is also an artist who must contend with her disapproving mother, her activist girlfriend, and working to have her art appreciated.
The series marks Martin’s first time as a lead in a series, which she admitted was intimidating at first. However, as filming continued, she said that she knew that set was where she was meant to be. “I just felt really at ease with the character that is so opposite from who I am as a person,” she said. “The environment that was created was so incredibly safe and felt like a safe space to work in that it made the whole process incredibly rewarding and much more simple to fall into the character when I never walked in her shoes.”
Despite her differences from Ana, Martin found ways to incorporate aspects of herself while still playing this character. One way she connected with the character was how Ana kept her cousins and grandfather together despite the conflicts they face. “I am the oldest of four children, so I feel like that was something that always came easy for me,” she said. “There are little nuances that I bring to Ana without even realizing it but she is so well written that you just fall into it whether you relate to them completely or you have to take one little thing and run with it.”
Being a Latina actress in L.A., Martin said that the fact that she didn’t have to have an accent for the audition was huge for her since that is usually the expectation. “I remember even in the makeup room one of my makeup girls was born and raised in the East L.A. area and she sounded just like me. She was like ‘That is such a stereotype because I sound like you and I was raised in this environment,’ she said. “It is definitely a stereotype that gets placed on Latinos based on region.”
“I didn’t even realize that you could pursue a career in acting. My sisters and I always joked that it was the chosen ones that would get it.”
In hoping to continue this three-dimensional way of presenting Latinos, Martin said that the key is not being afraid to tell your story. According to her, this was something she began to think about after living in California and talking with her castmates. “We’re like everybody else. There is no difference; we’re just a little tanner,” she said. “We should be leading roles.”
As she moves on in her career, Martin said that she has been taking things one step at a time. According to her, “Gentefied” is preparing to get back in production soon for season two. Along with this, she has also been auditioning for other projects.
However, for Martin just like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rollercoaster of different emotions. Before the shutdown of most operations, Martin had traveled back home to visit her family. “It was so sweet to be back home with my family and have that positivity around me,” she said. “But, even us being home, all together it is six of us, so we were like ‘We are going to go stir crazy here.’”
Though she has grown through her time in Los Angeles, Martin is prideful of the way her parents taught her to be proud of who she was no matter what. “I’m so proud of the way my parents brought us up to know that we have value and are worth being the leads in our own stories,” she said. “I am very proud to be able to represent the Honduran-American culture on this show even though I play a Mexican.”
*Karrie Martin plays Ana Morales in the Netflix Original series “Gentefied,” a comedy-drama series based on the online digital-short of the same name. Created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, the series has been produced and directed by Ugly Betty star America Ferrera.