Exclusive: Adria Arjona is Paving Her Own Path to Success
Success comes to those who work hard and are dedicated to their craft is something actress Adria Arjona has believed all her life.
At the age of 18, the Puerto Rican-born actress (who is of Guatemalan descent on her father's side) made the bold decision to move to New York City to establish her career—a move that has served her well as she's gone on to appear in films like 6 Underground with Ryan Reynolds, Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy and the upcoming Father of the Bride remake with Gloria Estefan, Andy Garcia and Isabela Merced.
Arjona, who is now taking the plunge into the world of superheroes and antiheroes in the upcoming Sony/Marvel film Morbius, alongside Jared Leto, is excited about where her career is headed and the different projects she's undertaking.
Of her foray into the Marvel universe, Arjona shares "it's such an amazing universe to be a part of." "I think that there [are] infinite possibilities, and that's really exciting," she adds. "Also, to be in a movie that introduces a new Marvel character is so exciting. I really feel like there could never be enough superheroes, so I'm excited for people to meet Morbius."
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the actress and producer dives into Latina representation in the upcoming film and why women "should follow their instinct" and forge their own path.
You've worked on some pretty major roles and projects in the past. What was it like working on a Sony/Marvel production like Morbius?
I'm not going to lie, it was pretty nerve-wracking at the beginning. You know, when you get a script like [the] one for Morbius, your initial reaction is pure nerves. But, you sort of have to get up, start gearing up and getting ready to play this character—you have to sort of put the nerves aside. It's such an amazing universe to be a part of. Look at what they've done with Spider-Man, with Venom and now us. I think that there [are] infinite possibilities, and that's really exciting. Also, to be in a movie that introduces a new Marvel character is so exciting. I really feel like there could never be enough superheroes, so I'm excited for people to meet Morbius.
Your excitement is palpable. What was it like for you knowing that you were going to be bring some Latina representation to a project of this caliber?
Our director [Daniel Espinosa] is half Chilean. We [also] have Al Madrigal [who portrays Agent Rodriguez] and myself. I think Daniel had a really good perspective on how to tackle this stuff. Like, let's not put a label on the fact that these people, these characters, are Hispanic—they're just people. I was able to just play Martine Bancroft without having to explain 'my mom's from here.' We didn't have to give explanations, and that was really cool. The comics have a version of Martin that is very different from the one that we ended up going for because we wanted to shine a light on a Latin American woman, but in a different way.
I got inspired by the way that she dresses, and it's a little bit more covered and baggy. I don't know, [I felt] tougher and stronger instead of being this bombshell. Instead of really sexualizing the character and having this tight suit on, we really focused on her intellect. We really focused on making sure that she's strong and that she's incredibly intelligent and that when they're in a room together —Dr. Morbius and Martine— they are paired up equally. I think that's how we sort of elevated and did a different twist on the Latin American woman or character [in terms of] representation. It's good to be represented, but you want to be represented in the right light.
Martine Bancroft is a Chica in STEM, which is exciting. You hear of actors and actresses sharing that each role teaches them something new. What was something this role taught you?
I think [she taught me about] talking with conviction. Whenever she speaks, she [does it] from a place of conviction. She's extremely confident and really relies on her knowledge. I don't think I'm like that, [but] I think I've learned to be like that and really voice out what I want and what I don't want. She taught me that. She [can also] pronounce every [medical term] in the world. I can't. It took a lot of work, a lot of takes and maybe a speech coach. I think she's very poised and very patient. I'm not [the most] patient [or] poised. I [also] think she's very, very strong.
Actors oftentimes like to branch out into other areas of the film industry. Do you see yourself branching out of acting, perhaps doing some directing and producing?
I actually just produced my first movie at the end [of 2021], and it was an incredible experience. I want to keep doing that, not only for myself, [but] to have a little bit more control of the stories that I get to tell. Also, so I can really showcase new up-and-coming Latin American talent. I think that's super important for me. I don't necessarily have to be in it all the time. I think that'll be a little boring, but I could really give a spot at the table to so many talented actors that are there in Latin America. So, that's definitely a goal. I think directing is in my future, but in the next 20 years. I think there [are] a lot of directors that I want to work with, and there [are] a lot of lessons that I want to learn before I go down that path.
You come from an artistic family, and you got a front row seat to how your father, Ricardo Arjona, was able to approach his craft as an musician. Despite the differences between the two disciplines, was there anything that you were able to learn from his approach to singing that influenced how you approach acting?
You know what? Yeah. My dad's always on the road, and I feel like I'm always on the road as well. Growing up and seeing how he's always traveling, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and you're away from your family or away from your friends. I think what he's taught me is that he really prioritizes his personal life and has a healthy balance between [work and his personal life]. I'm a full workaholic, and there's nothing more that I love than to work. But he makes sure that I'm well taken care of; that I'm coming home. He's constantly FaceTiming me and talking to me. Or he'll bring home to me [and] he'll bring my little brothers to me. I think the balance between a crazy gypsy lifestyle [and] your personal life [is what] I've learned from him.
We're celebrating Women's History Month all of March. What's something that you would love other Latinas to learn from your journey?
I think that they shouldn't learn anything. To be honest, I think every single journey is very specific, and I think everyone should follow their instinct, follow their gut and follow their own path. I think things can get confusing when you try to compare yourself to someone else's journey. It could get incredibly frustrating, too. My advice is to sort of create your own path and go with your gut and work really hard. There [are] not that many actresses that we can all look up to anyway. We unfortunately don't have that many, so don't compare yourself to them or to anybody else. I think times are changing, and they're changing so quickly that it's important to take it into your own hands. Just pave your own path—that's really all I can say. Please don't try to imitate or learn from me or anybody.
In addition to just spending time with your family, is there anything else you do to center yourself, since you're a self-proclaimed workaholic?
Yeah, I have gotten really into running and surfing. I lose touch with time and reality when I'm both in the water and when I'm running. I've been boxing for years, and I think boxing [is great] because you have to be so in the moment. If not, you're going to get punched in the face. Yeah, you sort of really detach yourself and are so present. I find that to be relaxing. I wish I could say a bubble bath relaxes me, [but] that stresses me out. I can't. It's hot. Too many smells. I can't do it. I don't mess around with tubs. That's what works [for me]. I mean, a glass of wine never hurts [either].
Who was your greatest inspiration growing up?
My mom has and will always be my greatest inspiration. [My mom] and my grandma from my dad's side. My mom and her are so opposite. I'm really lucky that I had two very, very well-rounded women in my life, and they taught me so much. My grandmother was probably one of the strongest, toughest women I've ever met. My mom is the kindest [and] funniest. Just seeing the both of them and what they had to do in their [lives] and everything that they've overcome is completely admirable.
Sometimes I'm like, 'I didn't get this audition.' Then I'm like, 'Wait, my mom had to go through something way worse.' It helps me put things into perspective, you know? My grandmother was an immigrant and came to this country to pay a debt for her cousin. And you're just like, 'How did you cross the border?' It limits me to what I can complain, and puts things into perspective.
As Latinos, we grow up understanding the importance of community. What is a piece of advice you've been given from somebody that has really helped give you perspective on your life and your career?
My mom always tells me to just follow my instinct. She's like, 'Your first response to anything is usually always the right one.' [In terms of] community, I think I'll tell [People Chica] a little story. I remember when I first moved to New York, and my dad came to visit me. I went to a restaurant, and I was like,'The reservation's under Adria [how it's pronounced in English]." And he was like, "That's not your name. It's Adria [how it's pronounced in Spanish]." That sort of gave me a, 'Oh, that's true.'
You know, I [choose what I] allow people to call me. Obviously, it's a different language, [and] I don't expect everyone to call me that. I have to say my name the way that they named me, and in the language that they named me. That holds a lot of pride. And I was like, 'Why did I do that?' I like that little lesson my dad gave me.
You're well-traveled. What's your favorite place in the world?
Oh, I'm always going to go with home. Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and [so is] Puerto Rico, so I'm lucky that I'm from very beautiful places.