Recently, we had the opportunity to ask Rudy Martinez a few questions about his career and what he’s up to. You might know Rudy from his work on iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Hollywood Acting School, Speechless, Jane the Virgin, and most recently, Dear White People by Netflix.
[Daley Review] – Hi Rudy! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today.
[Rudy Martinez] – It’s my pleasure!
[DR] – You’ve spent a lot of time on Disney and Nickelodeon shows like iCarly and Good Luck Charlie. How do you now look back on those days?
[RM] – Getting to work at Disney and Nickelodeon was a bit of a dream come true, especially since I grew up watching so many great kids shows. iCarly was one of my first jobs and I remember being so nervous because it was such a popular show. But the stars were so friendly! I wasn’t nervous for long.
[DR] -Your most recent roles have been on shows that are very much a product of their place in time. All TV is that way, but if things actually change for the better, in fifty years kids could watch “Dear White People” and ask their parents “was it really like that?” Are you drawn to shows with current social relevance?
[RM] – That’s interesting to point out because I do think Dear White People is very timely and relevant to what’s going on now. Fifty years ago the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s was happening and I remember asking my parents and grandparents what it was like back then, so I think people will look back on what’s happening now and ask the same questions. It’s a reminder that the actions we take now will matter to future generations, so that’s why I’m drawn to material that has a social and political voice.
[DR] -“Dear White People” is your current gig. What can you tell us about Wesley Alvarez? Are there any episodes where you get to shine that we should look out for?
[RM] – Wesley is introduced in Season 2 as the new romantic interest for Lionel, one of the characters on the show. He’s sweet, and sincere but he’s also a bit of a geek and a wallflower. That’s why Lionel is drawn to him, because they’ve both been outcast from their friends at an LGBTQ+ party on campus. He’s introduced in Episode 3 and continues through the rest of the season so keep an eye out!
[DR] -You also keep very busy on stage. What draws you back there from the glitz of TV?
[RM] – My background is in theater so I have a lot of friends who are directing, writing and producing great plays all the time, so I’m constantly in the loop. It’s hard to stay away from theater when I hear about a really great project that I just have to be a part of. Even if I’m not acting in plays, I still go see them regularly. Theater is just so incredible because it’s happening live right in front of your eyes and there’s a kind of energy about it that you don’t get anywhere else.
[DR] – On your bio, you list puppetry first among your special skills. Elsewhere, I’ve seen that you’ve actually spent quite a lot of time on puppetry as a student and early in your career. What draws you to puppetry?
[RM] – I love to draw and paint so I’m very familiar with using my hands to tell a story. I think that kinesthetic form of expression is what sparked my interest in puppetry. When was in school, I learned about acting with a mask where essentially you have to tell a story without using facial expressions. The challenge is in using your whole body to convey emotions, and because you’re not relying so much on words it allows you to connect more intimately with your audience. I love seeing people light up when they see a puppet come to life.
[DR] – If an opportunity came along for huge gig, say the Muppets or something, but you’d work as a puppeteer, would you take it?
[RM] – That’s a tough question! I mean working with the Muppets is a no-brainer, I would love to do that. But I also love acting for TV and film and I’m really dedicated to making myself better at it all the time, so I wouldn’t want to give that up. That’s a good hypothetical question, I’ll have to think about it!
[DR] – Puppetry has a special place in our house. My son, who’s autistic, made some of his first meaningful communication through a puppet. He was more comfortable using the puppet’s mouth and voice than his own. Is there any advice you could give young people interested in puppetry if they wanted to take it seriously?
[RM] – That’s amazing! That is exactly why I’m drawn to puppetry. People often look down at puppetry because it’s thought of as silly or childish, but I think the reason why children love puppets is because they communicate so well. If young people are interested in puppetry, I would tell them that puppetry is multi-faceted. If you want to be a programmer, or a robotics engineer, an animator, a designer, builder or performer, then the puppetry world needs you!
[DR] – What’s next for you? Another season of Dear White People? Back on Jane for a bit? Something else, secret?
[RM] – Well first, I’m taking a much needed vacation! I’m going on a family vacation in the Florida Keys to do some fishing. I’ve never been to the Keys, or been fishing so I’ll see how it goes! And Jane The Virgin and Dear White People have both been picked up for another season, so I’ve got stuff to look forward to when filming starts in a few months!
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