We had the good fortune of connecting with Marlene Forte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marlene, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk. A trick thing. A scary thing to take on but almost as necessary as food. Too much of it can get you into trouble, but one must eat. My first risky move was to leave my high school sweetheart, who was my husband at the time, to follow my dream of becoming an “actress”. That’s what they called us female actors of the time! I was 23 years old and had a 3 year old daughter, Giselle Rodríguez. I had just graduated college and my husband wanted more children. I wanted an acting career. I knew my heart, and courage, wasn’t big enough to handle more than one child, one husband, and one career! It was the 80’s! I would say I never stopped talking talking risks from that day on. The size of the risks varied, depending on the day. Somedays it was a risk to contact an old friend. Somedays to say “I’m sorry”. Somedays to say “I’m not”. When I first left Giselle’s dad, my biggest fear was to let her down. I wanted to be an example to her. Not of failure but of someone who fearlessly followed her passion. I wanted my daughter to know that a woman, just like a man, could follow “her” joy. “Her” happiness. “Her” success. To become a whole human being who could share her whole self with someone. Equally. NOW there’s a risk! It took me three marriages to get it right. Lol The most important thing I hope I taught my daughter is the courage to make her own choices, and to not be afraid of mistakes. Nothing is permanent in life. Death is permanent. Life is ever changing. Find your joy and follow it fearlessly. Keep your focus and sway like the palm trees in a storm. I don’t think myself a “brand”. Maybe that reals my age. Maybe that’s why I don’t have thousands and millions of followers. Lol I am a human being dong my best, especially these day, to stay healthy and safe and sane. To have the courage to get up in the morning. The risk to go food shopping. Or get on a plane to visit my daughter in New York, or my parents in Florida. To work. I think if I had to say one thing, it would be tenaciousness. That would be the thing. I had a boyfriend tell me once I was very tenacious. I think he meant as an insult but he was right I don’t give up easily on the things I love. I think an actor has to be tenacious. You must attack the work fearlessly. With focus and without judgment or expectations. All jobs are equal. The work does not change depending on the the amount of zeros added to your paycheck. I like to say I don’t audition. Of course that does not mean I actually do not audition. I just walk into the room and presented my work. Shoot the scene. The job is already mine for that moment. If I am good, I will be asked to come back and get paid for the next couple of takes! Lol Rejection and the word “no” is not easy to hear over and over again when one is looking for a job. But that is an actor’s journey. The lucky ones are up for rejection two or three times a week! More than most people in a life time. So, an actor must have a different perspective on rejection. “No” means “not now”. Not on this one. But maybe the next one. I take inventory every year. Do I want to continue this? Am I really good at this ? I take inventory and tenaciously keep going. It is a brave new world out there. Find the thing that gets you up in the morning. The thing that gets you up in the morning. The things that gives you the courage and the will to take risks everyday!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Cuban-American actor born in Cuba and raised in North Jersey. A bridge and tunnel kid from West New York, New Jersey. Yes, West New York is in New Jersey. I am an immigrant who left her country in my parents arms. The oldest of three girls, and raised Catholic, I followed all the rules a good Latina girl should follow including marring my high school sweetie heart and the only boy I ever had sex with. Lol. By the age of 23 I was divorced and had a 3 year old daughter Giselle. Hindsight is 50/50 but looking back I would say that I learned and found most of my courage in my failures. Leaving my husband might have been considered a failure. My first. But in my heart I knew I needed to follow my own joy before ever making anyone happy. I had to find that happiness inside me. And having more children would have been some else’s joy. Not wanting any more children was the thing that broke up my second marriage.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, if they came to LA, I would start with the California coastline. Starting in Los Angeles and heading north to Oaji for an evening of wine and fine food. We might do a spa day following morning. If it’s fall maybe even some horseback riding and an early dinner. Next morning we continue north to Santa Barbara. I am a foodie so plenty of good restaurants. But I would stay near the shore and do some whale watching. The following morning we head up to Monterey. Steinbeck country. We can visit the National Steinbeck Museum and see the actual vehicle that Steinbeck used while writing Travels With Charlie. My favorite Steinbeck novel. The next day we would continue to to Napa, where we would do more wine drinking and more spa days! Lol Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My daughter Giselle Rodríguez. I was a teenage mom and to this day I know she is my best production to date. She has been my inspiration and my reason to succeed. AND the village I surrounded myself with to help me keep focused on my passion and my joy. My mom and dad. Giselle’s grandparents on he dad ‘s side., Herlinda Rodríguez and Manolo Rodríguez. And all my Labyrinth Theater Company familia! These people ALL shaped my journey.
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Me and my daughter Giselle Rodríguez. / me and Gloria Garayua in Romeo and Juliette with Eastside Classical Theater Company/mr and my husband Oliver Mayer/ my headshot by Julian Juaquin/me as Celia Flores in Fear The Walking Dead image by goldenglobe.com/ me my mom, Nilia Machado and my daughter Giselle/ me on red carpet of Runaways premier.