Interview with Fernando Martinez
Fernando Martinez commands a room. Whether you chat with him over a cup of coffee at Starbucks, catch a glimpse of him on the comedy scene or watch the trailer for his new film, No Charge, you find yourself drawn to this multi-dimensional character. A New Yorker from the streets of Flushing now living along the palm-tree lined streets of Orlando, Nando draws upon his past and present in building a viable career in the entertainment industry. He’s bold, witty and passionate–and it shows in all that he does. Living by his mantra, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Nando is an unstoppable force.
Life of Riley: So when did you first recognize that you were funny? An entertainer?
Fernando Martinez: I knew I was funny and an entertainer when instead of focusing on my school work I would do silly things JUST to make the other kids laugh. The more they laughed, the more I wanted to do and say outrageous things to get a rise out of my classmates.
LOR: Tell me a little about your connection with Pablo Francisco and how you were inspired to break into the comedy scene?
Nando: I was a regular guest on an Orlando radio show in the mornings. We met when he came in to be interviewed to promote the weekend’s show. After the comedy shows late at night I would be the guy to show him what’s what in town—where to party, where to hang out . . . We were drinking in his hotel room one night and coming up with skits, just joking around. And he says you’re funny . . . come on tour with me and let’s keep writing. So I did . . . then a few weeks later he suggested I try to do stand up myself . . . so I did. I just started doing standup as Nando. Now I still perform part-time.
LOR: What are some of your most memorable moments performing comedy?
Nando: My most memorable moments on stage doing comedy are plentiful . . . performing with Pablo doing skits was a lot of fun. And he’s such a big name. So it’s something special to me. Of course you just have those nights where the most random things happen… like an overzealous cougar in the first row letting you know she’s down for a good time . . . lol. Comedy is crazy—the most.
LOR: From comedy to film . . . natural progression?
Nando: I wouldn’t say comedy to film is a natural progression. They’re very different things. They’re both entertainment but one is live and unpredictable and all your own. Film is more controlled and collaborative. Also it requires two very different skill sets—skills that really need to be honed and kept sharp. I don’t like it when every comic comes up to me saying they want to be in films too. Acting is an art form, one you have to really commit to. I cherish it very much, but the very same thing goes for stand-up comedy. I know comics would get annoyed by an actor who always wants to ask for stage time because he just feels like it at that time or to do it just for the sake of doing it. Stage time is a precious commodity. You have to earn it. And deliver when you get it. Both arts need to be respected, but generally a very good comic can act because he allows himself to be free and truly express true thoughts and feelings. A good actor can’t necessarily do comedy though . . . live comedy is a beast! Lol
LOR: Your mantra, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, taken from Jeff Chang’s Book or the Young Gunz song? Why does it speak to you?
Nando: I actually heard that in a Young Gunz song, like you pointed out, and it always stuck with me. It serves as my mantra because I’m determined, passionately determined to do what I want to do. I grew up with nothing, eating baked potatoes every day, which is why I’m not a big potato fan now by the way. We didn’t go on trips. We didn’t leave the block. Part of the reason for not leaving the block too was because chances were real good that you would get jumped if you did. Where I grew up in Flushing, Queens it’s very diverse, literally from block to block it was run by a different ethnic group, and for some reason none of them got along. I guess I just grew up in the time where everything was about protecting your block. So I felt trapped my whole life in many ways . . . economically, emotionally and spiritually. Once I turned eighteen, I graduated high school, and I told myself that now I control my life. I’ve been a very free spirit since then. I’m always down to try anything.
LOR: I see that you just wrapped up working on a new project, No Charge. Can you tell readers a little about this film and your part in the venture.
Nando: We just wrapped my new short film No Charge in Deland, Florida. It was summer so we took over the cafeteria in Stetson University and made a really good film about a man’s struggle to break free of the suffocation he’s feeling in his own life. Basically he’s caught in a rut and the monotony of just trying to make it one day at a time. You know how you just stick to your routine and then one day you open your eyes and wonder what the hell happened to all the time that just flew by? My character, Antonio, the procrastinator, and I use that word loosely for this character, lol, he gets a moment, a glimmer of hope in this otherwise crappy day and then well, you’ll have to wait and see what happens. I came up with the concept for this film while working at Starbucks. I pulled a Daniel Day Lewis—very method approach to acting. I collaborated with a great writer/director Carmen Treffiletti and he along with Dan Luby out in Los Angeles put together this great script. I added many of the punch lines in it, lines I just drew from real life experiences. We got some money together and made a great film. It was my first time producing as well, and I loved it. I will definitely be doing more of that in the future.
LOR: You grew up in New York and now live in Orlando. Where do you call home?
Nando: I do live in Orlando now but NYC is home . . . always will be. Those were my formative years. I learned and experienced a lot that molded me into who I am. I cheer for NY sports teams still, and I always go back even if it’s just for a day. I just need my fix sometimes. There’s an energy in NYC that you just don’t find anywhere else. I like Orlando too, don’t get me wrong. It does have a homey feel to it because I know so many people here. And I love the beach. So I am currently bi-lattitudinal. I made that up myself. lol. Starting in January, I plan to be bi-coastal as well. To do bigger things I just have to be in NYC and LA on a regular basis.
To learn more about Fernando Martinez, visit his website at www.thefernandomartinez.com and IMDB page at www.imdb.me/thefernandomartinez. Also Nando is known for his insightful daily tweets @itsthenando.
Fernando Martinez grew up in New York City and now resides in Orlando, Florida. He recently completed filming No Charge, in which he worked as lead actor and as a producer. Martinez continues performing comedy. He lives each day by one mantra—Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.