Justina Adorno is living every young actress' dream—the Hollywood kind. Cast as Yoli in the upcoming ABC drama, Grand Hotel, Adorno will be seen on screen in the luxurious Miami Beach hotel owned by an affluent family dripping with glamour.
The series is set to air in 2019 and is a remake of the Spanish telenovela, Gran Hotel. Stars are in her eyes and by her side, as Adorno is working with Eva Longoria, one of the show's executive producers. We asked Adorno a little bit about her fast-paced experience joining the cast and filming the pilot, as well as from where her inspiration arises.
1. When did you learn you got the role as Yoli, and how did it feel? How long had you been working toward the role?
This whole process has been fast and furious. It was for sure the last of ABC's pilots that I auditioned for, and it just felt right. I had the audition the day I was going to visit my brother in Orlando and I had to cancel my flight because they wanted me to come in and not self-tape. At the time I was upset, and my brother said, "They better cast you," and they did. I got a callback the next week on a Thursday, Friday I had my screen test, Saturday I found out I booked the role and by Sunday, I was flying to Miami to meet the cast along with Eva, Brian, Ben and Ken. It was all so magical. I was off-book for the pilot before our table read. Marci Phillips, the NY Head of Casting for ABC, was the best. She truly believed in me when we made the audition tapes to send to the team in LA. I feel like I've been working on this role my whole life. When I read the pilot I feel in love with Yoli.
2. Do you feel starstruck when you work with actors like Eva Longoria?
You know, as of now everyone has been so down to earth, and conversation has been easy, so I haven't had a starstruck moment. For a second I had to tell Chris Warren that I was a mega-fan of High School Musical to just get that out of the way. I had the sheets and the cups. I even went to the concert. It was funny, it was after our table read and we were all in different places getting our fittings and hair/makeup done, and Chris, and I believe Bryan, were in the break room. I debated if it was the right time to say it and I just did. Chris laughed about it and was kind of shocked that I was a fan—but come on, who wasn't? We laugh about it now.
3. Do you have a favorite moment from working on this show?
I have so many, honestly. I had the best time filming this pilot, so I am itching to get back to set to finish the rest of the season. But the one moment I will not forget while working on the show would be the pool scene I had with my sister. It was such a long day for everyone and we were the last scene of the night. It was the coldest day in Miami, but as an actress it really hit me that I was living my dream and doing what I love that it didn't even feel like work; that made my heart dance. Ken Olin said a few words to me that gave confirmation that I was on the right path. It was magical.
4. Did you watch the Spanish series Gran Hotel to prepare for the role?
I did. I actually stumbled upon the show years ago on Netflix, and I had watched the first three episodes and couldn't stop. I was so captivated by the story and how beautiful everything was. The acting was so great, but then I forgot what the show was called, and I never finished it. My dad then told me he was watching a show called Gran Hotel, and he explained the plot. I told him I had started the show but forgot what it was called, so I never went back to it. A few years later and it's back in my life. It's wild.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring actors who want to build their career?
I would say that you have to truly want it. You need thick skin and an awareness of one's self. Go find yourself. Once you're able to be you in any circumstance, without allowing other people's opinions make you doubt yourself, you're ready.
6. Who has been your biggest inspiration in the entertainment industry? Why?
I would say Kate Winslet is usually the first person that comes to mind. She is a strong leading lady that I looked up to growing up. She is a woman and always stands her ground. Her career is one I would die for. All of her roles have been complex and unapologetically honest. I saw Titanic in theaters when I was young, and since then I've been captivated by her.
7. What other projects do you have in the works?
At the moment, I am focused on Grand Hotel. I can't wait to give my all to this production.
"I want to work with everyone. I haven't yet because there are so many characters and plot lines we haven't crossed yet in the pilot, so I'm so looking forward to that "(Photo courtesy of justjared.com)
8. Did you get to film in Miami?
We filmed the pilot in Miami; it was the best time. I really felt that staying at the Fountain Bleu while filming created that relationship to our environment. I went on walks with different cast members around the area. We explored around the city and did what the locals did. I explored the hotel, the beach, the restaurants it had to offer, and by the end of it, I felt like I was home. It was so helpful for me as Yoli.
9. What has been the most challenging of being apart of a project this large?
So far? I want to work with everyone. I haven't yet because there are so many characters and plotlines we haven't crossed yet in the pilot, so I'm so looking forward to that once we get the ball rolling. So, the challenge is waiting to work with each other.
10. Where did you get your acting start?
I guess my first start professionally was a local commercial for underage drinking in South Carolina. I never looked back since.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.