From overcoming homelessness and substance addiction, to having a feature roll in “Better Call Saul," Jose B. Martinez is a symbol of perseverance.
Throughout his life, Martinez has had to overcome many obstacles. Growing up a member of the only Hispanic family in his town and being racially stereotyped by police, moving to Los Angeles with only $700 and being homeless on the streets of Albuquerque.
Martinez, a former student at the university of New Mexico, grew up in Chicago always knowing he wanted to be an actor. At the age of 18 he veered away from his family to move to New York City with the hope that he could make it in the acting business. After years of struggling in New York he decided to try acting in Los Angeles.
In LA, Martinez worked background roles for two years. He was featured in the show "My Name Is Earl," as a soccer player and at that point he said he really believed he could have a career in acting.
Martinez said he had to stop and start all over again in 2007, when the writers’ strike in LA made it too expensive to live there, He said he had to move to Albuquerque because it was more affordable.
“Sometimes you have to start over again,” Martinez said. “I call it 'going back to the basics.'”
Martinez said he attributes a lot of his success to his wife, Yolanda Martinez, who supported him in his decision to go back to acting, after years of being in school and getting his associates degree at Central New Mexico Community College.
He was only three classes away from getting his bachelor’s degree in strategic communications at UNM, when he got a letter from FAFSA saying his financial aid ran out.
At the same time Martinez said his wife, who was also very close to finishing her degree, began to suffer from epileptic seizures, which he said influenced his decision not continue pursuing higher education.
“I just want to continue to act – I think that’s really important for me. I don’t want to be famous; I just want to share my craft with everyone and let them know that it doesn’t matter what you went through," Martinez said. "Whatever your mind can believe you can achieve it if you really put forth the effort.”
Martinez said education and finding things that you love to do are important if you want to make it make it in this the world.
“You can’t lose if you’re trying to do good,” Martinez said. “It’s tough in this world we live in, it’s like a dog eat dog world.
“Education is very, very important to everyone. Young kids that I speak to, I tell them nowadays it is so important to stay in school. That’s probably their best option – to stay in school, find a career that they love and continue to do that.”
Not only did Martinez’ wife help him get out of homelessness, but he said his resilience and willingness to better himself played a role in him overcoming his struggles.
“I used every resource there was available for homelessness,” he said. “Good Shepard, ACA, St. Martins, rescue missions– all of these places offered me help and assistance to get out of homelessness.
“It is up to the individual. If you want to get out of homelessness you can. There are definitely enough resources for people to get out of their situation, but some people just don’t want to get out.”
Martinez said he is currently working on a film called “Get Tony Scarboni" where he plays a Gumba (a person of Italian descent who is related to the mafia) named 'Jose'”.
“I just want to show my colleagues and my fellow actor friends that again, anything is possible,” Martinez said. “18 years of being in the business – going to LA, coming back to New Mexico… It’s been a tough journey, but I never gave up.”
Amanda Britt is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AmandaBritt_.