Exclusive: Justina Machado Talks NBC’s ‘Welcome to the Family,’ Latinos on TV, & Puerto Rican Food

The bubbly Puerto Rican actress dishes on her new NBC comedy, Welcome to the Family, her role on Fox’s mid-season premiere, Murder Police, and, of course, maduros.

What makes Welcome to the Family different from other shows that include the whole cultures collide storyline?

This is a very different show and we’re not hitting people over the head with our ethnicity. We’re not trying to say cultures colliding, because that’s tired, that’s not the world we live in anymore and because I wouldn’t do something like that. I’ve been doing this for too long, I’ve done too many things, for me to be on a show where the joke is about being Puerto Rican or Mexican. It’s more about personalities colliding, differences in raising children colliding, you know philosophies of life colliding and if ethnicity happens to play into something then it does but its not what we’re chasing and that’s the different with this show.

This is one of many shows this fall to feature Latinos. What the difference now from when you were doing Six Feet Under 10 years ago?

You know what’s funny is that I really don’t know what the difference is. I have actually been very blessed in my career. The shows I’ve done, the characters I’ve done, I’m very proud of all the work that I’ve done, but I know that there is a difference and I don’t know why. I’m very happy for it. I think maybe we’re speaking out more, maybe we’re saying no, we’re not going into that character or no we’re not going to do that, or when we get the role we’re sitting down with writers and we’re saying let’s not do this let’s go this way. I don’t really know what the difference is. I do know that I hope it just grows. I remember back in the day [studio execs] always wanted a Rosie Perez type in the ‘90s, then J. Lo came around then they wanted the J. Lo type, then Salma Hayek came then they wanted the Salma Hayek type and now it's Sofia Vergara. So you’re always kind of like ‘Yeah, yeah it’s going to happen, and then you’re like damn it didn’t happen?” I don’t know what the difference is but I do know that I think it’s amazing, I think it’s going to get better from here.