Otmara Marrero is ready for her most challenging role yet
The Cuban American actress is our May CHICA cover star.
Although Otmara Marrero's career may not have taken the traditional route, the Miami native, 32, has relished every opportunity along the way. Dancing was her first passion, but after a stint as a professional cheerleader she realized she needed a new direction. Five years — and several acclaimed performances in films and series — later, she's poised to become the next Latina breakout star. She spoke to People CHICA about her journey.
How did you got into acting, because you started out your career as a dancer, right?
I did ballet for about 16 years. I was really shy back in the day, so dance was a way to express myself but not have to really use my voice. When I graduated high school, I auditioned for the Miami Heat [dancers] but I didn't make the team. The coach referred me to the Florida Marlins and I ended up making the squad and loved the team. There was a short stint of me dating a baseball player that opened my eyes to everything I was suppressing and the blocks that I was putting between myself and my dreams. Ironically, he really gave me the push that I needed to get out of a toxic relationship and chase my dreams.
Did you find it difficult to break into the industry?
My friend Camillo was studying theater in college and hooked me up with a bunch of books. Big shout out to him, because he really introduced me to the world of acting and said 'This is what you need to do, get to work'. I started booking commercials and met a casting director in Miami who mentored me and then introduced me to my agent; thanks to him I'm where I'm at because he really took a shot. I moved to LA in 2015 and booked my second audition, which was the lead of a show called StartUp. There's a lot of 'when luck meets preparation' for me; the work is everything but you gotta be a little lucky.
How was the experience of filming the show Connecting…, which is about a pandemic, during the actual pandemic?
When I first read it, I remember thinking 'Are people going to be offended?' But I decided to audition and I'm honestly glad that I took a chance because I got to meet these incredible creators. We shot it remotely from home, which was absolutely insane! I had a whole crew's worth of equipment in my house; I was setting up the camera, pulling focus and doing my own hair and makeup. It was a show that allowed people to laugh a little at the things we did early [in the pandemic], like run to the grocery store and buy all the toilet paper, and say 'Look how far we've made it'.
As a young Latina in Hollywood, what kind of roles do you want to see more of?
For me being a young Latin woman in this business is very important because each one of us breaks down a different door. Just being here is a door that opens to somebody else that's coming up behind me. I don't want roles that are just tropes and stereotypes. It's important that a girl who looks like me can see herself as the lead in a rom-com.
What's the one thing you're most looking forward to doing post pandemic?
Going to a movie theater. I love a good movie and popcorn; I miss that.
For more with Otmara, look for the May issue of People en Español, on stands now.