We had the good fortune of connecting with Sylvio Martins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sylvio, how do you think about risk?
I have a complicated relationship with risk. 9 out of 10 times, I’ll willingly run towards risk because I believe that the greatest rewards and sweetest satisfaction come from taking risks in life. However, I am also a very anxious person by nature, so I often place lots of pressure on myself (more than I probably should) to beat the odds. But I also believe taking risks is a sign of tenacity and self-awareness. You believe in yourself and know what you are truly capable of, so you place a bet on your dreams and aspirations. It’s a very powerful experience and even if you fail, you can say that you came out stronger on the other side.
I would say that everything I’ve accomplished thus far has come from taking a risk. Passing on jobs that I knew were not right for me, fully throwing myself into my work (hoping that I could somehow monetize it), and working crazy schedules until the next great opportunity finally came around. It has been a lot of waiting around and coping with bouts of self-doubt, but looking back now, every reward came from taking a big risk – and praying that things would pan out the way I wanted them to!
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.
In many ways, I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, and somehow not quite where I want to be either. So instead of saying I’ve achieved what I want in my professional life and know all the answers, I’d rather view myself as a work in progress (aren’t we all?) I’m still learning, failing, and working towards something bigger, whatever that may be.
Something that makes my work stand out (or at least I hope so) is that it feels authentically me. My greatest loves have always been food, culture, travel, and acting, and every project I take on fuels those passions. I write about the foods I love, how food tells a story about my heritage or people’s lives, past experiences that enriched my life, the struggles of my Latine community, my identity, my thoughts, my perspective on a number of issues. My writing should always feel like my personal, authentic voice, and I’m very grateful to have been offered platforms to share it. And when it comes to acting, if I’m not connecting with the material, then, chances are, it’s probably not on something I’ll consider doing. I guess it’s more about quality over quantity for me.
Nothing about my career has been easy, although I’ve had random bouts of luck that really helped me along the way. I’ve worked service jobs, random freelance gigs, made good money, made terrible money, and dealt with plenty of imposter syndrome. But I guess the main lessons that I’ve learned are to show up for myself every day, believe in myself more than anyone else, be your biggest fan, and never play the game of comparison. We’re all on our own timelines, so just write that blog post, outline that screenplay, post that photo, and send that cold email. Trust me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take my best friend on a food tour of Koreatown, hit all my favorite spots, and drink plenty of soju. We would see the sunset from Griffith Observatory. We would do a beach day in Malibu, visit a farmers market on the weekend, and cook a delicious meal with our purchases. We’d grab a drink at Bar Henry in Echo Park and catch a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. We’d hit Hauser & Wirth in the Arts District and grab a drink at a local brewery. I’d also force them to endure the lines at Courage Bagels and enjoy a meal with me at Bavel, Ceviche Project, Damian, Chifa, Gjelina, and Sonoratown (to name a few.) I mostly write about food so all I ever want to do is eat – come hungry!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Your support system is really everything, and I’m very fortunate to have great people in my life that ground me. Working for yourself can be difficult at times and definitely unpredictable, so having that person to call, enjoy a meal with, or vent to can make all the difference. I think of my parents, sister, girlfriend, friends, and roommates who have stood by me throughout all of the tumultuous phases of the past few years. I also think of all the editors, writers, and creatives who I’ve met along the way and have passed my name along, mentioned me in the right rooms, or simply offered some words of encouragement. Those kind people in your network can open new doors for you, and to those people I am eternally grateful. Support your friends. Support creatives. Support each other. It’s tough out there.
Pupusa photo: Andrea D’Agosto Michelada Photo: Bon Appetit Taco photo: Jakob N. Layman