AROUND TOWN: Articles and Interviews featuring Notable Artists in the Theatre and Film Community in Los Angeles

By Dana Martin

A Long, Long Way From Home

“I can’t believe that I came from Spain and I’m doing all of this!”

Francisco Martos is the kind of actor that is hard to find. It’s not the dashing good looks, his charm or his charisma. This young, up-and-coming actor is as thoughtful and kind as he is introspective. A bit of a renaissance man, Martos is a surfer, an actor and a former Optometrist. He has a reverence for story and is one of few who still reads books for learning and for pleasure. I was able to sit down with Martos and learn all about his upbringing, his outlook and his love of acting.

As a young man, Martos didn’t see a future in acting. Growing up in Granada, Spain, Martos was fascinated with stories and characters as a kid.

“I remember loving watching thrillers because my mother loves them. There are so many layers. Especially when you’re the character who’s messed up.  You find vulnerability in the character. It’s not just about being crazy or mean, but why is the character like that?”

His mother was an Optometrist, so he studied Optometry and Audiology in Spain before taking up surfing and traveling the world. He met his best friend on his travels, in Portugal.

Soon after he returned from his travels, he was offered a job as an Optometrist on the Canary Islands. There he worked for a year and saved enough money to move to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. So at the age of 24, he made the move.

To Be or Not To Be

Though he was meant to stay for six months, Martos enrolled himself in various school programs and pursued the craft with drive and perseverance. He landed at Michelle Danner Studios in Hollywood upon arriving in L.A. where he was given a strong foundational understanding of acting as an art and a profession. He then transferred to UCLA where he studied in the Extension Program for the next two years.

Three years after Martos arrived in Los Angeles from the Canary Islands, he’s still here, still making his dream a reality. He’s been featured in many commercials for major brands but his passion lies in film.

“With commercials, you just have fun. You don’t have to worry about lines you just enjoy and have fun and be in the moment and everyone’s telling you ‘Hey, great smile!’ Film wise, its more about getting into it, you know? When you see all the people working so hard on the set, it’s impossible not to.”

Early on in his training, Martos discovered the importance of using his imagination in order to prepare for roles. He drew upon his early love of film and his understanding of creating an imaginary world.

“When you feel connected to the script, it’s easy to see things, you know, it’s like reading a book, suddenly you are hooked and you see everything.”

Lessons from L.A.

Despite years of training, Martos says the best school is getting out there, jumping into the pool. But his advice for other actors: go easy, be gentle.

“Sometimes we’re too strict with ourselves. I realize the best auditions were the ones where I didn’t care too much. I was feeing free. I was not too strict with myself.”

Martos works hard to maintain a balance between work and life. He understands the importance of being present for what truly matters in life and doesn’t let L.A.’s shortcomings weigh him down.

“I love L.A. I live in El Segundo. It’s kind of far away from the city and the traffic. I love to surf. I love the weather. The struggle of the city is that it’s so expensive. Driving to see your friends is a commitment.” He laughs. “It’s like, why am I suffering to go see my friends, it’s supposed to be fun.”

Slow and Steady

His work and progression has been slow and steady. He’s getting to know himself in the process of becoming a better actor. “I’m realistic with my goals.”

Martos has landed roles consistently since being in Los Angeles, including many independent films, commercials, even a music video. His next goal is to land a re-occuring role on a T.V. show and continue to work on his film career. He also intends to work and live between Los Angeles and Madrid. Although he is building a solid career, Martos is a fan of taking things slow.

“Sometimes we want to rush,” Martos muses, “It’s important to enjoy the road and be more in the moment.”

Although Martos takes time to be in the moment, he also shows no signs of slowing down. He’s currently preparing for the lead role in Fear 3, his first lead. The script is being finalized and the feature goes into production later this year. He describes the film as a cross between horror and thriller.

“It’s a really interesting concept.” Martos explains. “It’s about people dying with their fears.”

On Representation in Hollywood

Martos believes he’s come to Hollywood at the pitch perfect moment in time. He’s managed to take each step of his career in stride. He believes it’s important to find good people and a good community

“As a Latino man, it’s great. Now they’re looking for people with accents so it’s the right time to be here. Fifty years ago, I probably wouldn’t have a chance.”

“The concept of Hollywood has changed so much. It’s not like it used to be back in the 90’s. Now it’s more about finding real, good people who can portray real emotions. Not to make them superstars but to create a good movie.”

When asked what advice he would give to young actors arriving in L.A. to begin a career, with a laugh he quips :

“Good luck!”

You can find more information about Francisco Martos on IMDB or FranciscoMartos.com.

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AROUND TOWN #LATHTR: Interviews and Articles focusing on the L.A. Theatre Community
by Dana Martin

An Italian in Los Angeles

This week I sat down with Italian-born theatre artist Giulia Blandino, a professional actress now living and working here in Los Angeles. We talk art, the creative process and the gift being an outsider.

You’re a professional actress here in L.A. Tell us a bit about where you came from and how you got here.

I’m from Rome, Italy. I started acting there. I decided that I wanted to try L.A. If I have to dream big, then why not do it it another language, another country? I’ve always love American movies, T.V. shows, so why not go after what I want, what I like?

After you arrived in L.A., how did you get involved in the theatre community?

I went to Art of Acting Stella Adler. It was my chance because the student Visa is how I was able to come to the U.S. It was my chance to start. It opened my mind in many new ways. I realized it has been the best choice that I’ve made. The technique of acting is so different than what I’ve experienced before… I needed to train myself [in the U.S]. Of course, it is the first of many classes I want to take, and things I want to do.

You’ve worked on several theatrical projects, both classical and contemporary. What do you prefer? What do you find challenging?

In the first year of school we did The Dining Room. The following year, I worked on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Around that time, I also worked on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They were all great experiences. I loved The Curious Incident… The story and the characters are so full. It’s so beautiful. After reading the book…it taught me so much. It was also such a big project in itself. Having the opportunity to play in it and be in it…to live that story? It was just incredible.

The character Siobhan I played in The Curious Incident… She was the storyteller of the play. She had so many layers, so many ways to tell the story. She’s reading the main character Christopher’s notes , his diary, and telling the story from his perspective. So there’s the storytelling fact-wise and then there is also her personal relationship with him. There’s so much beauty, so much humanity in all of these characters.

I would have never imagined myself working on something like that, so quickly. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to work on it again and I now think about that I want to play with. It was a great first impression of what I love to to and what I came here for.

Shakespeare was very interesting, mainly because of the language-side of it! It’s so interesting to deal with a language, a difficult language, a foreign language! I already do so much work for a modern English play it didn’t sound much more difficult to do it for Shakespeare. I already know that struggle. I already have to look up all the vocabulary! I also thought interesting how much of Shakespeare’s language is close to my language, to Italian. There are many things that are just instinctual, so I would guess, then look up the definition and was often times very close to the actual meaning. It was all very fun.

TheCuriousIncidentOfTheDogAtTheNightTime

Just after you finished school, you worked as a costume designer for the Harold Clurman Lab Theatre. Can you tell us more about that?

I loved that! It was my first professional costume design. I love fashion and I do care about my outfit when I go out, I think about it twice way too long for sure! But [design] is a little bit like acting, you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and then decide what they would wear on that particular day, for those moments. And also deciding what looks better on the actor, the relationship with other actors to one another…

You’re a current company member of Elysium Theatre in San Pedro, CA. What is your role there and what have you done in terms of creative projects?

The theatre is Elysium Theatre in San Pedro. I was in two shows there in the past season, Romeo and Juliet and Dark of the Moon. The atmosphere there at Elysium is very family-like, very home-like, so filled with creativity and talent. Everyone loves to be an actor, but have so many other skills that they can’t wait to put out there.

I got in with the theatre at a very particular moment because they just got a new space, a very big space, but that needs a lot of work to be done. The idea that is everyone will take a part in the creation of this space and anything the company needs, so the company can be home for everyone. I love to paint and I love to create visual art so I had a chance to add some of the decoration of the space. I can’t wait to do more about it.

I worked on costumes there too. For the last show, our budget was limited so we worked on costumes ourselves as a cast. Myself and a few other cast members were really excited about it! We’d all done it before and cared. There’s a lot of space to share so much more than acting.

I’m costume and set designer Richard III in January/February 2018. In the summer, there will be [an adaptation of] Alice in Wonderland, which I hope to help write. There’s so much happening and so much I can’t wait to work on.

It feels like a lot of times in L.A. you meet a lot of people and it’s brief and it’s fast but it’ll be today, tomorrow and then maybe I’ll see a like on Facebook! It’s really hard to build artistic relationships, so it’s really nice to be able to find a place that, to be a part of it.

Though your talent extends to other creative areas, do you you consider acting your specialty?

Yes. In Italy, we have a very closed mind what your job is, what you’re going to do in life, and then there is the other stuff you do because you like it. If you haven’t been trained, if you haven’t studied for years and years, you don’t get considered. It doesn’t matter if you’re good! There’s no paper saying so.

I love the fact that’s a little bit different here. I consider myself an actress and that’s why I’ve trained to do it and I’ll keep training myself to do so. And I can’t wait to do that. It is what I want to do and it’s my… I keep using the word “job”, but it’s not quite what I want to say! It’s more than that.

What’s your dream role?

Wow! Pretty much anything that Jennifer Lawrence already did would be pretty good for me. I would love that!

I don’t see myself and I don’t think the industry sees me as the love interest. I’m less interested in biographical stories or portraying someone who’s very close to me. I love the idea of using my imagination in my acting and using my creativity in my acting, and I love when it’s about imagining the warrior in it. It’s different, it’s not what you’re used to, it’s not how you live every day of your life. I like that aspect of it.

I like imagining my body moves differently, or the color of my skin is blue. I love the idea of playing with that. The kid-like aspect of acting. I would love to be a part of a project that would allow me to do that.

I think it’s beautiful that at the core, it’s always about the same things. It’s about connection, it’s about what connects us all. It’s so fun to be able to play with that. To make that clear and strong in a different body, with a different look.

Why is L.A the place for your unique voice and skill set?

I realized by traveling that our culture and every day lives shape who we are. It’s really interesting to me to think about the core that connects us all. I think it’s useful, to have an outsider point of view. If your main goal with your art is to connect different points of view/cultures/backgrounds, then it’s definitely easier to see it from the outside. I always loved American movies. I want to be able to get into this giant business and be the little voice that is different and still make you hear what there is to be heard. My dream is to not fit in, but to stand out, for all that I am. Even though it’s different, it’s what you relate to. When you’re inside, it’s harder to see that. The business is here.

Any worthwhile recommendations for projects coming up?

My theatre company is soon doing a production of The Three Sisters. Go watch that for sure! Keep an eye on future projects because I’m telling you, there is a very good Alice in Wonderland coming and you want to see it!

Tell us about it!

So far we’re just in the beginning stages of the process. I had this idea and then sharing my thoughts with the company, I found out that the company wanted to do it! They were looking for people who could make that happen, so I was very happy. I’m working on the writing and I hope I can find a writing partner. I would love to direct it! I would love to do everything with it (laughs) but we’ll see. I would really love to direct it, but if that’s not the case, I really wouldn’t mind being Alice. Everything is still open and I love this company because of that.

So far I know I am very excited and that it’s going to happen.

Sure, anytime!

Elysium Conservatory Theatre, 729 South Palos Verdes Street, San Pedro; (424) 535- 7333 or fearlessartsists.org.