Martha Higareda: New Kid on the Block

She's already a household name in Mexico, and now stunning brunette Martha Higareda is bursting onto the scene in Hollywood with her new film Street Kings, also starring Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Amaury Nolasco and about a half-dozen other A-listers. Martha called us from her new home in sunny Los Angeles to talk about her new Tinseltown debut, the advice she got from Keanu, and which Latina she idolizes above all others.

First thing's first: what was it like working with so many hot men?

O my God! It was challenging. They're so good-looking that I had to be very careful. [Laughs] No, they're awesome. There are people in the is movie who I've been admiring my whole life, so it was pretty amazing to be surrounded by these incredible actors. I had to learn a lot and I'm still learning.

You share a lot of scenes with Keanu Reeves. Did he give you any advice on making it in Hollywood?

He would tell me, "You know, Martha, don't be nervous, it's just a movie. And then he said, "How do they do movies in Mexico? Do they use two cameras? And I'm like, "Uh, okay, you can use two cameras? Wow!" He told me not to be nervous. "Just calm down and do what you know how to do and let's have fun. Cuz that's all it is. Have fun with what you do." So he told me that and I think that's the best advice.

Did you feel intimidated working with Forest Whitaker, who's an Oscar winner, and Keanu who's an icon around the world?

Oh, of course! But I have to tell you this. Of course it's intimidating, but I try to act like if it wasn't. Right? There's this great actor in front of me. Okay, he's so amazing. But in the end, I try to see them as partners. We're all doing the same thing, we all have the same passion, which is acting, so he's here, I'm here, and let's do it. Then I go home and then I yell of excitement. But then I go back again and play it cool.

You were already a big star in Mexico before you came to Hollywood. Do you ever feel like you've had to start over?

Yeah, well it's starting over again, but I like it. To go there into a room and have to prove yourself, just show what you have to show. Sometimes it's good. I like that challenge.

Have you met other Latinos in Hollywood yet?

I haven't and I would love to meet Salma Hayek, love to meet her, because I have such a big admiration for her. She's really smart and talented.

What's the worst thing about being in Hollywood?

I think the worst thing could be, not for me but for some people, the paparazzi stuff and all that, but I don't think that.

You don't think the paparazzi are so bad?

I don't think that's too bad. It's part of the job. I think for an actor to tell [the paparazzi] not to do something that they are supposed to do--that's how they feed their families right? If you want to go and be seen by paparazzi, you know where the paparazzi are. You know what I'm saying? Like if you go to, you know, Rodeo Drive, I bet you are going to find some paparazzi, if you don't go there, well maybe not.

Street Kings opens nationwide on Friday, April 11.

--Smriti Mundhra