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.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!