The multi-hyphenates stars behind Netflix’s musically inclined series The Get Down fill us in on life after the cameras stop rolling.
A scene from The Get Down on Netflix.
With a team of notables that includes director Baz Luhrmann, rappers Grandmaster Flash and Nas, and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, it’s little wonder that Netflix’s The Get Down is one of the most cerebral, but mesmerizing shows airing today. Featuring a cast that intermittently sings, dances, and raps, The Get Down takes place during the heady last days of disco (and the nascent days of rap) in New York in 1977. We sat down with three of the stars—Herizen Guardiola (Mylene Cruz), Shameik Moore (Shaolin Fantastic), and Justice Smith (Ezekiel “Zeke” Figuero)—to chat music, acting, and favorite eats.
The Get Down is Herizen’s debut performance
Herizen Guardiola is a musician before all else—in fact, what attracted her to the role was that her character, Mylene, was a singer. “This is my first acting thing that I’ve done. Now, I love it,” she says. “Now, it’s really fun and I catch myself doing monologues to myself in the mirror, making myself cry for no reason,” she laughs.
And she’s not the only musician in the cast
Shameik Moore, who plays the enigmatic Shaolin, is also a singer. “I’m working on an album,” he revealed. And as a true renaissance man, there’s more to it than that. “There’s also a short film coming with my music,” he says. “I’m really excited. It’s hard to explain because there are things I can’t really say about it [yet]. It’s an amazing project. The movie showcases how I move. I put my music there, put in the swagger, and added the story.”
And what about Justice?
“My parents are musicians, so I grew up around music. But acting was my way to rebel,” says Justice Smith, who plays bookish Zeke. Case in point: After filming wrapped, he starred in an off-Broadway play, Yen, with Oscar-nominee Lucas Hedges. “It’s about these two kids from West London who grow up in the estates, which are like the projects of London,” he says. “It’s what happens to young boys when they’re left to their own devices.”
They all have go-to New York spots
The cast lived in the city for over a year while filming, so it’s no surprise that they all found favorite restaurants. For Guardiola, Hide Chan Ramen holds the key to her heart. Smith, meanwhile, takes a slightly less gut-busting approach. “I’ve been eating a lot of vegan food lately because I’m trying to be healthy now,” he says. “By Chloe and Blossom are two favorites.” As for Moore? He’s a fan of Blue Ribbon Sushi.
Herizen’s not a city girl
Unlike most of her contemporaries, Guardiola and her family live far from the bright lights of LA or New York. “I moved to a small town called Eugene, Oregon,” she says. “I moved because, for me, I feel claustrophobic in the city. And living here [in NYC] for a year and a half, really, I felt like I lost a lot of me. I’m really connected to nature and love quiet and to be in trees and around animals. And there’s not a lot of that here, unless you go to Central Park.”