Justina Machado: 5 Things To Know About The ‘ODAAT’ Star & ‘DWTS’ Contestant

'One Day at a Time' star and Broadway vet Justina Machado is about to bring the heat to 'Dancing With The Stars' season 29. Here's what else you should know about the actress!

Justina Machado
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Image Credit: ABC

You know and love her from One Day at a Time. Now, Justina Machado is taking on a new role: Dancing With The Stars contestant. Justina, 48, is about to cut a rug on the dance floor and vie for the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on DWTS season 29. Here’s five things you should know about the gifted actress — and dancer! — before her big debut.

1. She plays Penelope on One Day at a Time. Justina plays Penelope on the beloved sitcom, a mother and veteran who suffers from PTSD. One Day at a Time originally aired on Netflix, and moved to Pop TV after massive fan outrage over its cancellation. Justina told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that she was so moved by the fan support. “It’s incredible,” Justina said. “We have a great fan base… It was amazing what they did and we’re so grateful.”

2. She was originally known for her roles in dramas, not comedies. Justina made a name for herself in Six Feet Under, playing Vanessa Diaz, a woman who abused prescription drugs, experienced deep depression, and whose husband cheated on her. On Private Practice, she was a nurse whose heart was broken by Taye Diggs‘ character. But she’s also a master at comedic acting, as fans now know.

“I love going to work and laughing and having a good time, but it’s definitely hard work,” Justina told the Chicago Tribune in 2013. “It really is, because you have to figure out where the joke is. Is this the joke? Which word should I hit? It’s liberating, though. As much as I love my dramatic roles, it’s a little tiresome always being the damsel in distress.”

Justina Machado
Justina Machado’s ‘DWTS’ portrait (ABC)

3. She’s also a Broadway star. Justina made her Broadway debut in 2009, playing Daniela in Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Tony-winning musical In The Heights. She went on to star in productions of Love, Loss and What I Wore, Some Girl(s), and Black Butterfly.

4. She didn’t think she’d become an actress growing up. While she loved to sing and perform, Justina thought she’d just get a “normal” job. “My parents are from Puerto Rico. We were lower-middle class,” Justina told the Chicago Tribune. “My family’s mentality was, go and get a good job and stay in Chicago and have a family and just be responsible and just have that real Midwestern kind of life. They just didn’t really think about anything else. Anything like [acting] was not something that was discussed in my house.”

One Day At A Time Cast
Justina Machado and the One Day at a Time cast (Pop TV)

5. She’s ready to crush it on Dancing With The Stars. Justina admitted to ET that she already had a “breakdown” while driving home from rehearsals, and that she’s “gone through every emotion” at this point. As for her first dance? She teased that it’s “in the world of Latin.”

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