Exclusive Interview: Otmara Marrero on StartUp

Otmara Marrero is the relatively new face in Crackle’s new original series StartUp. She joins Martin Freeman, Adam Brody and Edi Gathegi in the new thriller about the tech industry. She plays Izzy Morales, the creator of GenCoin, a new digital currency that becomes the subject of a tug of war between gangsters and corporate suits.

Marrero has done episodes of Ballers and Graceland, but we’ll pretty much discover her in StartUp. The first thing I can tell you is that the T is silent, so her name is pronounced Oh-Mar-Ah. I me Marrero at a Crackle reception for the Television Critics Association. StartUp is now streaming the complete first season Crackle.

Adam Brody, Otmara Marrero and Edi Gathegi at the premiere of StartUp

Adam Brody, Otmara Marrero and Edi Gathegi at the premiere of StartUp

You’ve worked before but this is a big debut for you.

Otmara Marrero: This is my first lead.

What is your background and what got you to this point?

Otmara Marrero: I’ve been entertaining my whole life basically. I started dancing ballet and that was my way of expressing myself and the way I felt. I did that for 16 years. Out of high school, I danced professionally for the Florida Marlins. I was really shy. That’s why I danced, because it was a way of expressing myself but not having to say anything. I always felt like I wanted to say more and I wanted to do more but I didn’t know how to get there. Slowly but surely, I broke out of my shell. Then I went back to school for theater.

Which school?

Otmara Marrero: I got my AA at Miami Dade College and then I took some classes at FIU. I didn’t go to NYU or Juilliard. I wish. That was on the bucket list, never happened but did the local university.

Were you looking at lots of pilots when StartUp came along?

Otmara Marrero: You know what? No, I wasn’t because I moved to California on November 1. Those two months, November/December, I was going out on auditions and this happened. January 5th I was on a plane to Puerto Rico to film. I think I auditioned for one pilot.

Did that pilot end up going?

Otmara Marrero: I think it did. It’s Riverdale. I wasn’t up for the part or anything but I went and did the whole audition process. This ended up taking off.

Were you up for Betty or Veronica?

Otmara Marrero: Veronica. I mean, I wasn’t “up” for it. I just auditioned.

Otmara Marrero in StartUp (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Otmara Marrero in StartUp (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Did you have an intense tech course for StartUp?

Otmara Marrero: I did. I worked hand in hand with someone from Silicon Valley. He’s the one that really broke it down, digital currency and all that stuff. And then, I met with a couple people while I was in Puerto Rico that are coders. We would code and do the basic coding, creating web pages and stuff like that, but what’s really behind it.

You look like a pro handling that hardware. Did you practice? Are those servers heavy?

Otmara Marrero: They are, extremely heavy. I didn’t get a lot of practice. It was half and half. It was kind of just jumping in there and adapting and feeling it out and just going with the flow. The only practice that I really got was with a digital currency and speaking with actual coders. But as far as real, real practice, we didn’t have a lot of time to.

Is she a natural at dealing with a gangster?

Otmara Marrero: I wouldn’t say she’s a natural dealing with a gangster, but she’s tough. So to her it’s not a challenge to deal with anyone. It’s not that she’s good at dealing with gangsters but she just has a very tough personality and she doesn’t take no for an answer and she’s not scared of anything. She’s fearless so I think that’s why she was able to work well with him because she wasn’t intimidated by him.

In a way, is the corporate guy more of a challenge to her?

Otmara Marrero and Adam Brody in StartUp on Crackle (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Otmara Marrero and Adam Brody in StartUp on Crackle (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Otmara Marrero: It might be, yeah. Yeah, because he’s brainy like her so they go toe to toe with their brains. To her, this Haitian gangster doesn’t know anything. He’s a bug on the street. What does he know? But Adam’s character is educated. He went to school. He’s a financial banker so that’s probably more.

GenCoin addresses the problems with Bitcoin. In creating this fictional technology, do you sort of have to actually solve the Bitcoin problem?

Otmara Marrero: No, but this would be the upgraded Bitcoin if it was real and I feel like that’s why the show is so great, because it’s so current to the world problems right now. I feel like any girl or guy could create a currency like this. This code could be real life. Somebody could create a code that really is unregulated, untaxed and they really could do this. So is it possible? Yes. Did we have to do it? No, but it has very real elements.

Was doing 10 episodes as a lead everything you dreamed?

Otmara Marrero: Everything I dreamed of and everyone I dreamed to work with. My first one, I’m working with someone like Martin Freeman, Edi, Adam who have been in the business for 10 plus years. It was everything I dreamed and more.

Do you still dance?

Otmara Marrero: I dance here and there but not like I used to.

Ballet would be something you’d have to keep up.

Otmara Marrero: Yeah, you have to keep up and I stopped my sophomore year of high school. I go take adult ballet classes, but do I have the moves like I did before? Not at all.

You have the moves with servers now.

Otmara Marrero: Now I’ve got the hand moves.

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