Girls

Natalie Martinez on Muay Thai, 'The Crossing,' and Playing a Badass

Martinez talks training, diet, and her new show.

Natalie Martinez
Carlos Nunez

From CSI: NY to APB to Kingdom, you’ve portrayed a lot of tough women. What’s the key to playing a badass?

You’ve just got to have it. You’ve got to be confident and not afraid to take risks. I feel like people see that in me when I step into these roles. I show up to work, I give it my all, and I think that reflects a strong personality.

We especially loved you in Kingdom as MMA fighter Alicia Mendez. Did you have to train like a pro athlete for that character?

I’ve been doing Muay Thai and boxing for years, even before I did that show. So that was already a part of my everyday life and training regimen, which gave me confidence. And I’ve done a lot of strength training and conditioning. I’ve always been very active. So I feel like that helped out with my body language and the way I carried myself.

Do you still do Muay Thai training?

Oh, yeah, I’m Muay Thai for life. I’m obsessed with it, and I love it. Fighting is a skill that you can always get better at. You’re always working on your technique. It teaches you so much discipline and control. You use your mind a lot, too. So it’s one of those things where I feel like I’m constantly growing. It keeps me very engaged and entertained.

How else do you stay in fighting shape?

I’ve started incorporating a little bit more Pilates and yoga, so I can build different strengths and elongate and stretch out my muscles. It also helps offset the impact that I’m constantly giv- ing my body. But the majority of my workouts still consist of me being in a boxing gym, hitting pads and throwing flying knees and kicks.

In your new show, The Crossing, you play a genetically modified human. In real life, do you eat like a robot?

I don’t like to eat to fullness. I eat small portions throughout the day, which means I eat every three hours. And I try to eat as clean as I can. But if I want some sweet potato fries, I’ll have them. Korean barbecue is one of my favorite dishes. Everything in moderation. I don’t have a specific regimen. I just try to make good choices.

The Crossing stars you and Steve Zahn, which are two great reasons to watch. What are some others?

When I first read the script, I fell in love. Basically, this group of people washes up onshore in this little town, and nobody knows where they came from. Turns out they’re from 250 years in the future, and they’re refugees seeking asylum from a war that will happen in America. It’s one of those shows where there’s a cliffhanger in every episode, but you also find out new information about the characters in every episode.

Sounds sort of Lost-y. Is the role physically demanding?

Yes. My character, Reece, is still a human, but she has some of the genes of the fastest runners and the highest jumpers and the strongest people. She’s an epic human. So there’s a lot of action and thrills, a lot of wire work and fighting. It’s really fun.

What’s your dream role?

You know, I get that question a lot—even from my friends. Everyone’s always asking, “What would be your dream job?” And I’m like, “I’m doing it. What are you talking about? I’m living it right now, this moment.”

Talking to M&F.

Exactly. This right here is my dream.

Follow Martinez on Instagram at @iamnataliemartinez and Twitter at @nataliemartinez.

 

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