(Living Well With)

Actor Juliana Aidén Martinez Says This Morning Ritual Keeps Her Grateful Every Day

The Griselda star puts self-care first.

TZR; Credit Phillip Faraone / Stringer; Getty Images
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For many, their first jobs out of college are entry-level positions that allow them to start from the bottom, so to speak, and progress their way to the top of their respective industry. Juliana Aidén Martinez, however, had a very different start to her career as a working actor. Fresh out of Yale Drama School, the Colombian-American grad got the opportunity of a lifetime to star opposite Sofia Vergara in Netflix series Griselda. The biographical drama tells the tale of drug lord Griselda Blanco and her reign of terror in Miami during the ’70s and ’80s, which is the stuff of local legend.

For the Miami native, it was a story that she’d grown up hearing, so the dream gig hit particularly close to home. “I knew about Griselda Blanco because I feel like she’s very much a part of the Miami culture,” says Martinez on a recent Zoom call with TZR. “She’s a cultural icon in the way that she’s deeply impacted Miami, some would say in very profound and negative ways. But she was a big contributing force to that Miami skyline. They ended up funneling money into the city in ways that really transformed Miami to what we know it to be today.”

In her front-row-center role as June Hawkins, Martinez portrays the homicide detective who helped both catch Blanco and essentially save Miami, which at the time was a war zone for Columbian cartels. As she prepped for her role, Martinez was able to connect with the real June Hawkins, who also did some consulting for the six-part series. “I was able to speak with her over a course of conversations and really pick her brain about what it was to be a woman during that time period,” explains Martinez. “She was one of the only women in the force overall, also one of the only ones who spoke Spanish. And I thought that was very fascinating, especially because [Griselda’s] story is so much about how it is to be a woman operating in a world of men.”


After you wrap a series of this caliber and acclaim, where does one go from there? According to Martinez, Griselda — and its esteemed crew — allowed her to set the bar high for future projects, and this is where her interests and standards will remain. “I want to work with amazing directors like [Griselda’s] Andrés Baiz and [and] work with people that are like David Fincher,” she says. “I mean, there are many people in my head. I’m excited about working with artists that want to show artistry and that want to shape and shift the culture. And to me, that’s really exciting.”

Ahead, we talk to the actor about her off-duty life and the practices and habits that keep her grateful and focused on the present.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I check in with my breath right away instead of going to my phone. I take a few breaths, and I thank God that I’m alive, because that’s not a guarantee. And that shifts me immediately into a perspective of gratitude. Then I just go straight into self-care, whether that’s drinking a large glass of water or getting my coffee ready. I love to Neti Pot, which is such a specific thing for me. I started doing it in grad school, and I feel like it really clears out my sinuses and my mind. I then wash my face with cold water, and it’s this kind of reset ... that feels like an actual new day, and I can be a new version of myself rather than going straight to my phone and checking emails.

When you have the chance to treat yourself, what do you do?

I’m an anime girl. Megan Thee Stallion and I can be friends. I have been watching the last season of Inuyasha. So, I love my glass of wine, being in my sweats, not wearing makeup, watching anime, and knowing I’m still a bad b*tch.

What are you listening to these days?

Well, I mentioned her already, Megan Thee Stallion. But also I am really loving the girlies right now, so Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. I appreciate me some Taylor Swift. And there’s also Bad Bunny and Rosalía. I do like to mix it up and listen to classical music ... and Brazilian. There’s a Brazilian jazz genre that’s becoming really popular. Also, who sings “Water” again? Tyla? That kind of genre of music, I find really interesting. I love Caribbean music because of where I came from. And so I definitely listen to the girls, and I like to hear what’s new and what the DJs are playing.


Where are you dreaming of traveling to? Why?

I am a world traveler. I have studied in Europe and New York — I love London. I go to Puerto Rico a lot, so I love San Juan. I go to Miami a lot, too. I really want to visit Portugal, so I’m planning to go to there at some point. I’m [also] trying to visit Tokyo again, because I love Japanese street wear and I love Japanese culture. Obvi, I love anime. So, I really want to go to Tokyo again.

One thing you can’t live without is...

Myself. And I say that in a very spiritual way because I feel like sometimes if I get too wrapped up, I can leave myself at the door and forget what I need and what I want and how to take care of myself. A lot of my focus is [in asking] “Do I have myself at the moment?” And so I feel like that has given me a lot of self-assuredness.

What’s your go-to secret weapon when you want to look and feel good?

I love me some Chanel bronzer. I really do. Just a little bronzer during the day, especially because I do wear SPF every day. I used to just tan and be out in the Miami sun all day. Now I’m so much about skin care, so I’m like, “Let’s protect ourselves from the sun, but still get your little Miami glow. Let’s put on some Chanel bronzer, and you’ll be OK.”

Do you have a favorite workout/wellness practice?

Right now, I’m doing a lot of Pilates. I am an athlete, and so I grew up playing competitive soccer for 13 or 14 years. I thought I was going to do that, be a professional soccer player. That said, when I started studying acting as my career choice, so much of it is about learning the Alexander technique and being in tune with your body. I feel like Pilates allows me to still incorporate those kind of kinesthetic principles.

What’s a healthy meal you always make/order?

I used to be raw vegan when I was a teenager, and I used to work at a vegan farmers market in Miami in Coconut Grove. I was able to see how to make [vegan meals] tasty. Now, one of the things I love to do is very simple — it’s the quality of ingredients that’s what’s most important in making a healthy, tasty meal. I’ll go to my farmers market here in West Hollywood, and I get fresh arugula, cilantro, limes, make sure I have some great olive oil, a little sprinkle of salts, and then I’ll bake some salmon. And I don’t know what it is, but the olive oil with the lime juice and a sprinkle of salts with some fresh salmon is just ... amazing. The freshness, the quality. I feel like I’m literally having the Earth replenish me, and I don’t have to put anything else on it.


What’s the best piece of relationship advice you’ve ever received?

Communication, communication, communication. I don’t know if this is some kind of condition we get as women, but I didn’t want to make a splash or be seen as difficult when I was growing up. And I find that if I can allow myself to be uncomfortable but still speaking for what I want and what I need, then I can be in relationships that are healthier and more aligned with who I am, rather than leaving myself at the door.

Do you remember your first big splurge? Do you still own it?

Yes. My first splurge I'm actually wearing right now. My Balenciaga earrings. It was when I finished [Griselda], and I was like, “I love me some beautiful classic hoops.” And that was my first splurge. I am very into being financially savvy. And so I’m like, “Let’s not blow my top. Let’s find something that’s going to make me feel beautiful every day and still have a great savings account and a Roth IRA.”

What are you saving up for at the moment?

I’m saving up for a car now. I would love to get a Tesla. I would love to get something that’s environmentally friendly. But I don’t want to do a lease. I want to buy everything and not be in debt. That’s the girl I’ve become.

One thing you want to go back and tell your younger self?

Who you are is your superpower because there’s literally, scientifically no one else like you in this world. I just think [growing up], it was so much of me trying to be like my peers and see what their special abilities were. I feel like it’s a Star Wars kind of analogy, but you look in the mirror and [you realize] your superpower was there all along.