Sometimes, actors have to struggle to find a connection to their character. Until they do, the performance has an artificial or superficial feel.
Miami-born Otmara Marrero had no such trouble with her role as Izzy Morales in the new Crackle series “StartUp.” Her character is a strong, passionate woman who doesn’t take “no” for an answer working for a GenCoin, a controversial tech idea centered around digital currency. The FBI gets involved when finds the company was started with dirty money.
The series also stars Martin Freeman, his first series since “Fargo,” and Adam Brody, of “The O.C.” fame.”
“I tell people I’m my character in all her glory,” Marrero says during a party at the Beverly Hilton thrown by Crackle to promote the series. “I’m afraid to say I’m her because if people see the show and they think that’s what I’m really like they might not want to be friends anymore.”
But, Marrero can’t get away from the connections she has to the character. Not only is the series set in her hometown, but the 10-part first season was shot in the Florida city. Having grown up in that area, Marrero knows first-hand how well the creators of the show have captured the climate, culture and contrasts of Miami.
“Usually when people make shows set in Miami they highlight the skyline or the sexy women,” Marrero says. “There is so much more to Miami and they are highlighting them. From little things, like the food is the same as the authentic Cuban meals my father makes for me. They also use the same kind of lingo people use.”
When Marrero was growing up in Miami, she was more focused on being a ballerina. She started dancing at the age of three. By the time she was 19, she found the demands on her body were too intense.
The actress points to the toes on her left foot that show the signs of having been battered and bruised by dance for almost two decades. That ended with her being a member of the Florida Marlins dance team. She was able to take the passion she had for the arts and re-direct it into acting.
Her original plan during college was to get into TV journalism. But after reading a Constantine Stanislavski book on acting, she switched to theater. She paid for college by working in a club. She realized her acting abilities by dealing with everyone from drunken men to jealous girlfriends.
“That made me break out of my shell and I used the club as my theater,” Marrero says.
Since then the she has landed small roles on series like “Ballers” and “Graceland.” “StartUp” is her biggest break, which makes the similarities between her and the character such a blessing.
The veteran members of the cast have been a little intimidating. Marrero describes herself as a “fish in a shark tank.” But instead of letting herself be consumed, she’s been learning all she can from her fellow actors. She sees this as a “paid scholarship” to learn acting.
“StartUp” will be available Tuesday, Sept. 6, on Crackle.
Barking up the right tree
The race for the White House has often been called a “dog and pony show.” Not certain when or where a pony may pop up, but it’s clear the streaming service Hulu has provided the pooch.
So far, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog has starred in “Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016” and “Bonus Poop.” Both are available on Hulu and there’s a possibility of more to come.
The man with his hand in this canine comedy is Robert Smigel. Since debuting on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in February 1997, Smigel has insulted his way around the planet hurling out quips through the puppy puppet.
Triumph is on hand for both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, harass delegates at the Westboro Baptist Church and holds a fake book signing.
Although the cigar-chomping dog has been around for almost two decades, there were some in attendance at the conventions who were caught off guard.
“There are definitely people at both places that had no idea who the hell Triumph was,” Smigel tells TV critics.
Those who had not seen Triumph just commented on the cuteness of the dog. What surprised Smigel was that more Republicans than Democrats recognized Triumph. He predicts Donald Trump will take credit for that as an example of how he’s changed the party.
Smigel calls Hulu a great place to work because he’s always been nervous about doing more than 10 minutes of material. The streaming service wasn’t as structured as the network TV world he tried and failed in a few years ago. His series “The Jack and Triumph Show” died so quickly, it left Smigel a little shell shocked.
“I don’t know if we’re going to do a single special or a different format, but we are talking definitely about doing more stuff with Hulu in the fall. I’m really enjoying it there,” Smigel says. “I did this sort of coming off a show that didn’t work, and I was feeling a little vulnerable, and they were so eager to work with me, and especially Triumph, and they’ve been just amazing.”
Got gas?: NASCAR and Nickelodeon are joining forces to take viewers inside the world of NASCAR with the return of “NASCAR Hammer Down” debuting at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 23 on Nicktoons.
The third season features eight, 15-minute episodes hosted by Karsyn Elledge, granddaughter of Dale Earnhardt and daughter of Kelley Earnhardt Miller.
Honored: The “29th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards” will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, on PBS during Hispanic Heritage Month. The Awards are among the highest honors for Latinos and are supported by 40 national Hispanic-serving institutions. The 2016 award winners include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Junot Díaz and actress/Singer Angelica Maria.
The event will be taped Sept. 22 at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C.