‘Altered Carbon’ Star Martha Higareda Talks How She Stays Grounded and Why It’s so Important to Stay True to Her Latina Roots

She’s a Powerhouse Who Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Written By: Gabriela Mungarro
Photographed By: Jared Schlachet and Joe Magnani
Styled By: Teresita Marie
Hair By: Malena Villavicencio
Makeup By: Brian Bond Martha Higareda

Known as the world’s cinematic capital, Hollywood can be a challenging city filled with the struggles of “making it” for actors from all backgrounds attempting to leave their footprint on the bumpy road to the silver screen. But one of Mexico’s leading ladies, Martha Higareda, is taking the small screen by storm as she has found huge success starring in the Netflix original sci-fi series “Altered Carbon.” Living in Los Angeles and quickly rising to her full potential in Tinsel Town, Higareda’s immense talent, can-do attitude and gifted visualization skills are behind her prolific career as an actress.  

When Martha Higareda was a 9-year-old girl watching a TV show in her home in the southeast state of Tabasco in Mexico, she realized her life’s calling—acting. She immediately told her sister of her plans. “It was in that moment that I was able to see myself as an actress,” said Higareda.

With a smile that can light up even the darkest room, her petite stature in no way represents her presence. It is impossible for her to go unnoticed, and it’s clear why she has a successful career, as she has produced, written and starred in some of Mexico’s top box-office hits.

Raised in a traditional Mexican home, her family created a welcoming haven full of creativity and imagination, allowing her inner artist to emerge from a young age. Her mother, Martha, who would later become an actress, often entertained the family with puppet shows on a small stage in their home, and her father Jose Luis, a therapist and writer, influenced her love for the craft. Family is everything to Higareda. It is what fuels her strength, drive and passion. “I want them to have a really good life,” she said, picturing the faces of her three siblings and parents.

Filled with dedication, Higareda began taking acting classes during the evenings while attending college in Mexico City. After landing her first role in her teens, she realized her dream of becoming an actress was closer than ever. She waved goodbye to her potential career in communications as she journeyed into the world in front of the camera. “For me, there was always a plan A. I always felt something inside me telling me it was all going to work out. I have no idea what I would have done had it not worked out,” she wondered.

Higareda has shined on the big screen in high-caliber performances that have resonated with loyal fans throughout her beloved Mexico in films such as Amar Te Duele, Te Presento a Laura and her recent film, No Manches Frida. But for this superstar, an international career was never far behind as she’s worked alongside prominent actors like Keanu Reeves in the film Street Kings and Kevin Costner in McFarland, USA.

Shortly after deciding to move to Los Angeles and landing her first American TV series role, she was faced with devastation as the show was canceled due to the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Considering her apartment was paid in full for a year, she remained positive and took screenwriting classes. She would later return to Mexico with three exceptional movie scripts.

Higareda has always loved and appreciated the LA culture, ever since her first visit at the age of 14. Permanently moving to the city would be another dream come true for her. “I’ve always been a person who loves anything that’s different and embraces it, and I’m fascinated by people. I came to this city and found all this diversity and found just so many things that LA has to offer. I love how different it is when you go Downtown or go to Venice Beach. It’s a fun city,” she explained.

When Higareda isn’t eating her favorite food—that being Mexican, staying true to her roots—she turns to sushi. “I definitely like eating sushi. I think [that] in the whole country, this is the best place to eat sushi,” she added. However, after visiting the Amazon Rainforest, Southeast Asia and animal slaughterhouses, Higareda was exposed to a shocking reality that would ultimately lead her to change her perspective on food consumption and planet conservation. “Really, I eat very little sushi because I’m vegan. I think it’s the only way that we can help the planet,” said Higareda.

At the age of 13, Higareda’s parents gave her a book by renowned motivational author Wayne Dyer that forever changed her view on life, and she has since become skilled in the art of visualization. “I had a board with my dreams [on it] and I had a cutout of Keanu Reeves. Then, I came to the US, got an agent and then did Street Kings. I’ve been doing it since I was little, but now I do it even more,” she said. She would later encounter the same fortune during her audition for “Altered Carbon,” as she was shocked to see the book by the same title on her yearly list of books to read.

As an admirer of the sci-fi genre, the Mexican-born actress jumped at the opportunity to portray the tough, street-smart detective Kristin Ortega in the series. “The key is to make it personal,” mused Higareda on relating to her character’s vulnerability and strong persona. Although excited about the role, the part left her feeling immensely responsible, as she wanted to create an honest character that accurately represented Latino culture.

Higareda’s career in Hollywood is one to keep an eye on, as her projects continue to focus on unique characters. “Something that I like to look for [in] roles are finding characters who aren’t perfect. That they have a conflict they must overcome in the film, and that they are incredibly bold and brave,” said Higareda. Currently, she is developing a cross-over movie with Sony, writing a TV show and starring in “Queen of the South.”

Higareda strongly believes anything is possible and gives this advice to those looking to follow their dreams: “I know maybe somewhere there’s someone who dreams [of becoming] an actress, musician or whatever,” she imagined. “I really do believe that if you put your heart into it and visualize it as if it was happening today, you can do it. Even if your family or friends say you’re not going to make it, if you really believe that you’re going to make it or do it somehow, I think it can happen.”

Chow Time: Her favorite restaurants in LA include Uovo, SUGARFISH and Katsuya.

Off-Duty: Higareda’s hobbies include reading James Patterson novels and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books, hiking, camping and biking.

Her Favorite TV Series:
– “Homeland”
– “Stranger Things”
– “Game of Thrones”

Her Favorite Films:
The Matrix
The Shawshank Redemption
Amores Perros
American Beauty

One, Two, Punch: Higareda trained for two months in martial arts and boxing for her role as Kristin Ortega on “Altered Carbon,” and learned how to defend herself.

Dream Role: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who was a Mexican-Spanish scholar, philosopher, poet, writer, and nun from the Latin American colonial period. “I’ve never done a historical piece,” said Higareda.

Photoshoot Location:
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
1700 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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