Baz Luhrmann’s much-anticipated ‘70s NYC Netflix show, The Get Down, is out this August and as well as established names like Shameik Moore (Dope) and Jaden Smith (that Smith family fame), it’s sure to make a star of its female lead, Herizen Guardiola.
Herizen will be playing Mylene Cruz, a singer seeking her Donna Summer moment as hip hop, punk, disco and dance take over the city. The show is about six South Bronx youngsters escaping violence and poverty and chasing the bright lights of the big city through song, rap, dance and graffiti. As well as the great characters and music, there are cameos from Studio 54, CBGBs, the World Trade Center and the SoHo art scene.
Miami native Herizen talks to us about the show and her discovery of New York City through filming the show.
How do you cope with those stiflingly hot and humid NYC summers?
It’s based in the summer but we filmed all the way through winter, so I was wearing summer clothes and it was like 20°F outside!
You grew up in Miami right?
I was born and raised in Miami. My mum is from Jamaica and my dad was born in Miami but the rest of his siblings were born in Cuba, from Havana.
Is New York home now?
Yeah, I would say so, because I’d only been there like once before and I was like 10, so it was almost brand new to me. I had no idea where I was and sometimes I can still get lost. Thank God for Über!
Where do you live?
I live in Queens, but we film all over New York, in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan. But we’re based in Queens, so I live close to set. But I’m back and forth. Whenever we have a break, I’m back home in LA. I also live in California. And I spend a lot of time in Miami, so I’m everywhere!
Where do you hang out in NYC?
I spend a lot of time in Williamsburg. I have friends outside of the show that I’ve made, like an older brother type, who’s kind of like the socialite of Williamsburg. He’s in with like all the skaters and stuff like that. He brought me around and introduced me to a lot of people, so I met a lot of really cool people. I like it over there. It’s super eclectic and kind of funny in a way because people don’t really care about what they wear. They just go out on their skateboard and do their thing, you know, and it’s really cool. There’s a lot of cool rooftop parties over in Brooklyn.
How about culture?
When I’m alone – which I am most of the time – I will just go to a museum. I like the Brooklyn Museum. It’s beautiful there in the summer. And I really like the Museum of Natural History. I’ve been there a couple of times and every time I go I just focus on like one side of the museum. I really like animals, so I spend a lot of time in there. And I like old pottery, art and weapons from like cave men era. It’s about learning how humans lived off the earth, like for real. Whereas we’re like, “I’m hungry! Über, can you deliver me this?”
Where do you shop in NYC?
I’m kind of tomboyish, so I shop a lot of shoes, like Nike and Adidas. For clothes I’ll go to Urban Outfitters, Topshop and Buffalo Exchange, which is a thrift shop where you can find really cool things that no one else has. But as far as in New York, I don’t really know too many. Most of the little hidden places I know are in California. I’m not a big shopper.
Where do you go for music?
I really like going to Terminal 5, they have really awesome gigs. I go to a lot of concerts. Central Park has great free concerts in the summer. I saw Ibeyi there. They’re amazing Cuban-French sister singers and they remind me of me and my sisters so much: the hair and we’re both Cuban and my sister and I harmonise. So they remind me of us. I love Central Park. I like to just go like read a book, go tan or play volleyball with friends on a Saturday afternoon. Even when I’m alone, I just like go stretch, do some yoga. I’ll feel ten times better if I can just like go and do yoga for an hour.
Where do you grab food in the city?
I have like my go-to food where I get like nachos. I always go to Soho House because I get invited to parties there, then afterwards, I got to a diner right next door for my sinful nachos! But generally, I’m a healthy eater. I eat a lot of salmon and salad and sushi.
How do you think New York now compares to New York in the ‘70s?
It’s completely different, because it’s built-up now and there’s nothing happening. Back then, people were burning buildings down to collect the insurance money. It was bad, people had no homes and it’s crazy to see how much it’s changed in barely 50 years. I don’t feel any violent vibes there. I feel like everyone’s busy doing their thing. As artists, it’s a really cool place to like meet other artists, especially in Williamsburg. Everyone’s just like really chilled and laid-back there.
What’s been your big New York moment?
I would say going to Mad Decent’s block party, which was a huge festival on Coney Island. It was so much fun. That was last August. Diplo, Major Lazer, Vic Mensa, Die Antwoord all played. A lot of artists that I really enjoy listening to. I’ve gone to a lot of music festivals but you could feel how different the vibes are from like a California festival. How they relate and dance and is more calm in New York. I would say California kind of gets wild at music festivals, like everyone mosh pits, which I enjoy. But New York felt and LA felt like the difference between a senior and a freshman. New York is still fun, but it’s more calm.
The Get Down starts on 12th August on netflix.com