Los Angeles native Jazlyn Martin is an actress, professional dancer, classically trained singer and musician who previously appeared on “This Is Us” and “All American: Homecoming.”
Peacock’s new hit show “Bel-Air” welcomes Martin to the cast alongside Saweetie, Tatyana Ali, and more.
How did you learn about the role?
When I first got it, the description said street smart and Afro-Latina from South Central. I dived into living life as an Afro-Latina in South Central and what that looks like, what you have to do to survive, and what you have to become to survive. I know people are like, “Jackie’s ghetto.” She’s not ghetto, she’s had to become someone in order to survive. She’s independent. She’s strong. She knows what she wants. So I’m protective when they say she’s ghetto.
Why do you think the Afro-Latino community will connect with your character?
Afro-Latinos are not represented or portrayed. If you’re Afro-Latino, you’re always cast as Black. I’m always cast as Black. I think it’s really hard for Afro-Latinos to exist and be Black and Latino and a lot of the times people are like, “You have to choose one. You can’t be both. You have to be Latino or Black.” Then it’s like, OK, well, you’re not Black enough. Now, you’re not Latino enough. I think combining and connecting those communities and also seeing representation is amazing that Latinos can look like this and Black people can look like this. You can’t put Afro-Latinos in one category, they can [be in multiple] categories.
Has that affected your career?
I struggled with it in my career and within my own identity. Growing up Black and Mexican, I never felt Mexican enough and it was the Black community that always welcomed me in and always accepted me. Going out for auditions, I never got Latino roles because I was darker, or my hair was very curly, so I didn’t even realize what Afro-Latino was for a long time. That [term] wasn’t [used] when I was younger. … I’m very proud to claim [Afro-Latina] because we can exist by being both Black and Latina, we don’t have to choose.
What makes you different from other performers?
I would say my faith and my consistency. I will hear a lot of “no’s,” might not get something, feel bad, don’t want to show up, or give my all, but I feel like I push through it. I really rely on my faith and if it’s not meant for me, then it won’t be. While we were shooting, I was in school too, so that was interesting. I’m at UCLA, so that was very hard to juggle, but I pushed through.