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A chat with talented Justina Machado who plays Mily Zamora in the MTV film “Pedro”

pedrocast1When you watch the new film Pedro, premiering on MTV and Logo Thursday night, you will be astonished by the performance by Justina Machado as Pedro Zamora’s sister, Mily.

I’d seen Machado (pictured with co-star Alex Loynaz) over the years on HBO’s Six Feet Under as the wife of Freddy Rodriguez’s character so I knew she was a good actress. But as Mily, she has the role of a lifetime and really is the heart of this fine film and its best performance.

Pedro Zamora was just 22 and living with AIDS when he was chosen to be a part of the cast of Real World: San Francisco in 1994. He used his time in the show to promote awareness and prevention of the disease.

Pedro’s sister Mily helped raise him after their mother died and was there for him every step along the way right up to the end. He died the day after the final episode of Real World: San Francisco aired.

“I remember knowing about it but I wasn’t really into The Real World so it wasn’t until I actually read the script that I found out about his story,” Justina said when we spoke recently. “A young, beautiful man 17 years old gets AIDS, dies at 23, [AIDS] is still happening and I think this film is going to maybe make people more aware of it and hopefully get involved again like we were back in the 80s and 90s. I think people are going to remember that there’s still an AIDS crisis. I think people have really forgotten about that, it’s kind of been thrown to the wayside and they don’t talk about it. I think it’s really important.”

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Pedro’s story is so much about family and his sister and father gave the actress thumbs up adfter seeing her performance in the movie.

“We got to meet her in Toronto when she came to see the film and it was the biggest compliment. She loved it and thought it was really true to everything. It was great meeting her. Her dad was like, ‘You’re like my daughter!’ So I think I did a good job.”

Justina is an in-demand actress on film, television and stage recently starring opposite Marc Feuerstein in Neil Labutteā€™s Some Girls at the Geffen Theater. But she is best remembered as Vanessa Diaz in Six Feet Under. I told her it seemed like her and co-star Freddy Rodriguez really were married so realistic was their portrayal of a couple in crisis.

“I’ve known Freddy since I was 16 tears old, we’re both from Chicago, we’re both from the same neighborhood,” Justina explained. “We knew each other forever so we had a lot of luck going into it. We knew each other, we speak the same language, we get it.”

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