“I love the fact that Penelope is so layered… I get to do it all with this character,” reveals Justina Machado about her role as a Cuban-American single mom on Netflix’s “One Day at a Time.” In our recent webcam interview (watch the exclusive video above), Machado discusses the recently-aired second season of this reimagining of the classic 1970’s sitcom, as well as the show’s willingness to tackle serious topics in such a highly-charged political climate, particularly as it relates to the Latino community.
Going into the show’s sophomore season, Machado admits that the was concerned about maintaining the quality of season one, but ultimately felt that the show was “elevated” by dealing with “a lot of different topics.” For her character, Machado admits that she relished the idea of seeing Penelope “be a little sillier, have a little more fun” while also delving into some of the more emotional storylines, particularly in the season’s ninth episode where Penelope hits rock bottom after going off her antidepressants. Machado admits that she was excited by the storyline: “Are you kidding me? I’m an actress. I get so excited when I see something I can get into.”
Another of Machado’s favorite episodes was the second season finale in which Penelope’s mother Lydia (Rita Moreno) is sick in the hospital, and each character delivers an emotional monologue at her bedside. Machado admits that she had fun preparing for the episode, but describes the way that the entire cast cried through the first table read of the script. She adds, “It was also really exciting because you got to know a character a little better with their monologues.”
Even with such emotional material, Machado says that she was excited that the writers gave her opportunities to do a lot of physical comedy, and cites her love of “screwball” comedy on classic shows like “I Love Lucy.” The season also gave Machado a chance to strengthen her bond with her on-screen children, played by Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz, but Machado describes herself more as the younger actors’ “crazy mommy.”
Given the socially and racially charged climate of today’s politics, Machado admits that she didn’t consider those factors when she was filming the second season. “”The truth of the matter is, these are stories that have always been important in [the Latino] community,” she claims. “Because of what’s going on in the world, it’s become more important to maybe other people outside of the community.”
Now that the show has been renewed for a third season, Machado confesses that her only wish is for the next season to be as good as the previous two. To that end, she says she has full trust in the show’s writing staff, and says that all she wants is for the show to continue to grow, and that she “trusts [the writers] so much, that I can’t wait to see what they give us to do.”
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