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Tommy Martinez – Embracing Acceptance
April 2, 2019
After noteworthy performances on popular television shows like Shameless and Riverdale, actor Tommy Martinez is now quickly grabbing the world’s attention on Good Trouble, portraying an openly bisexual character.
Candid’s Fashion & Entertainment Editor, Jeff Conway recently sat down face-to-face with this progressive thinker, as he shared with us his own identity struggles he has dealt with and how this latest groundbreaking role has become so near and dear to him.
What was Tommy Martinez like as a child?
He was the shortest one of his friend group. A skinny/fat awkward stage, where I had the ‘love handles’ with skinny arms and skinny legs. All he was doing was trying to have fun with his friends. Never had any ambition, was just living in the moment. He was kind of lost.
So, what was the major turning point in your life?
I got asked to take part in a modeling contest for the DSW fashion magazine at Florida State University. I had never done anything like that before, I had never modeled. I eventually won the competition and was featured in their magazine, which was crazy.
A few weeks later, I had this quarter-life crisis because I was failing my classes. I was afraid of being left in the dust from all my friends, because they had their path and I didn’t. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do.
A week or two after that, I got reached out by an aspiring director Herbert Felix and he told me that I was mentioned by the photographer who worked with me for the modelling contest and they were good friends.
Herbert messaged me and he was like, Dude! You have this exact look for this character in this short film that I’m making. Have you ever considered acting? With me, acting is something that I have admired. And on the first day of shooting, I got hit with something while we were doing one of the scenes. I was like, Damn, this feels good!
Let’s talk about ‘Gael’ on the new hit show Good Trouble. He really is a modern character that’s pushing social norms and stereotypes. Why did this role speak to you?
When I read the character, his name’s ‘Gael Martinez’. Hispanic, an artist. I really related to that because he’s trying to juggle his art, his passion, with a side job to support that. And I had to go through the same thing, as well.
I was working at a restaurant, after the modelling kind of died down for the season. Then the whole bisexual aspect to his character and knowing that it was never really brought up where I grew up. It was either you were straight or you were gay and there was no in-between. It was like the grey area that nobody ever talked about.
With my personal experience, something I recently came out with on how I had been with a man a couple years ago, a sexual experience. And even though Gael is open about that with the people he lives with and at his workplace, he’s closed off to his parents. I just related so much to Gael.
We live in a time now where celebrities and everyday people alike are coming out and declaring their homosexuality, bisexuality and pansexuality. Do you feel that these titles are necessary or can they sometimes do more harm than good?
That’s how I think of it! I’ve had this conversation multiple times where I wish we could live in a world where it doesn’t matter. Why do you have to put that title on?
But it’s necessary because some people need that because they have been offended in the past. I think it’s important, but at the same time, I wish titles would disappear.
The LGBTQ+ community continues to praise your character on the show. Have you received any special messages that have thanked you for the way you are depicting this character and sexuality on-screen?
I really like connecting with people that follow the show or have seen the panel where I came out about my [bisexual] experience. I have got a flow of messages from people that have been put in the same situation.
It was just very heartwarming for me to hear that [my experience] gave them that extra push to be like, This is me! And I’m going to accept me for who I am. That made me feel so good.
Good Trouble is filmed and takes place in Los Angeles and a central theme to me is that you and the other characters are people who are just starting adulthood and trying to find their footing in the world. Do you feel that in real-life you can relate to that?
Absolutely, I am still trying to find my way in my life right now.
There are many different voids I have, like gain more knowledge and pick up an instrument.
There are good days and there are bad days. My girlfriend and I go through the same stuff and we’re there for each other and try to help each other through it.
When you’re not acting, what do you do to unwind?
I like to drive off and be a hippie for a couple of days. I’ll go to a national park and just live a simple couple of days. I’ll have my portable grill, cook my food, lay in my hammock, go in the river. I do a lot of rock climbing and it puts me at ease.
As the first season comes to a close for Good Trouble, how do you hope Gael evolves further in season two?
I’d like to see more time on his art, the process of it. Hearing his own voice on how he is passionate about that.
A lot that goes on in season one is based around love and the trouble that he has growing feelings for Bryan and also growing intense feelings for Callie.
I’d like to see more about his parents and him coming out to his parents. I would like to see more of the acceptance of that.
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