By Julio Martinez
Even though Natalie Martinez was not a series regular on CBS’s police drama, CSI: NY, she is happy she put in the time recurring as Detective Jamie Lovato. “The people at CBS got to know me pretty well,” says, Martinez. “One day I got a call from Brian (K. Vaughan) who told me he was developing this pilot based on the novel, Under the Dome, by Stephen King, and that Steven Spielberg was involved as an executive producer. I thought it was such an exciting concept for a drama series, and of course, I really wanted the opportunity to work with Spielberg and King.”
Even though Natalie is once more playing a cop – Deputy Linda Everett – this is no ordinary police procedural series. Under the Dome tells the story of the small New England town of Chester Mill, suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. Under development since 2009, the show has bypassed an introductory pilot and gone straight to series with a 13-episode commitment from CBS. The large ensemble of series regulars also includes Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Colin Ford, Nicholas Strong, Joline Puedy and Aisha Hinds.
“My character is a sheriff’s deputy who kind of finds herself once the dome comes down,” Martinez affirms. “I thought it would be really fun and challenging to play a character who actually evolves and becomes more of a personality from episode to episode. It is interesting that there are a number of new TV shows coming up that feature Latinas as law enforcement characters. I think they (the networks) finally understand that Latinas come off real well playing strong willed women. It is really believable that they can take charge. I’m sure enjoying the opportunity”
Even though Martinez is in the midst of shooting the ninth episode of the series, she cannot offer any clues as to how her character is going to develop in the future episodes. “As exciting as it its it be in this series, the actors have no idea where it is going. We find out what’s happening as the scripts come in. We’re shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina. It is very hot and humid here. Of course, that’s nothing new to me. I was born and raised in Miami. Both my parents were born in Cuba. I am the first generation born in the United States. And of course, I am the first one in my family to be in show business.”
In fact, Martinez had no idea she would be in show business when she was younger. “I never did any acting or modeling as a kid. I just fell into it.” Martinez fell into it pretty well. At age 17, she was discovered and asked to be a model/spokesperson for Jennifer Lopez’s clothing line, JLO by Jennifer Lopez in 2001. More modeling bookings followed. Martinez got her first significant acting role when she was 21, picked to co-star in the English language telenovelas, Fashion House (2006) and Saints & Sinners (2007). Subsequent work included a supporting role in the feature Death Race (2008), the pilot episode to Sons of Tucson (2010), a regular spot in the TV crime drama Detroit 1-8-7 (2010-11), followed by her stint on CSI NY (2012/13).
Martinez avows, “I have been very fortunate and very lucky to have one thing just lead to another. I never planned on all of this. But I am definitely into it now. I am so focused on doing the best job possible on Under the Dome, I haven’t really concentrated much on my future work. I know there have been some conversations about what I might be doing after this show goes on hiatus but nothing I can really talk about. Anything can happen. Right now I am just happy to put on that sheriff’s uniform.”
Under the Dome – executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, Brian K. Vaughan, Neal Baer, Stacy Snider, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Jack Bender – the series debuts Monday, June 24 on CBS (10-11pm). Based on the book by Stephen King, the series was developed by Brian K. Vaughan.