Herizen Guardiola definitely knows how to get down. The 20-year-old actress behind the role of aspiring disco singer Mylene Cruz on Baz Luhrmann’s hit Netflix series The Get Down has had a passion for music that far predates stepping in front of a camera. “For me, singing is like breathing,” Herizen (pronounced like ‘horizon’) tells us, even as she’s prepping for the release of her first solo album.
Growing up in both Miami and Santa Monica and singing alongside the Marleys thanks to her Cuban reggae musician father, Guardiola balanced her time spent in the recording studio with time spent outdoors—she surfs, skateboards, and frequently hikes. “I was a total tomboy,” she says. “I didn’t even wear clothes until I grew boobs. I was like Mowgli from The Jungle Book until the world was like, ‘you’re naked.’”
Fortunately for us, that easygoing style has matured into a laidback ease that still embraces Guardiloa’s active lifestyle while blending her penchant for vintage with a Bohemian chicness. We recently chatted with the rising star about her musical background, her style when she isn’t in front of the camera, and her character on The Get Down—which will be releasing Part 2 of its first season on April 7. Tune in to see her incredible talent in action and scroll on for her personal picks of the season’s top pieces.
The Window: From Miami to Santa Monica to Oregon, you’ve had a well-traveled life. How do you think this has influenced your perspective?
Herizen Guardiola: Moving between these cities opened my mind up to the lifestyle differences of each coast. It made me realize how different I feel on the West Coast versus on the East Coast.
Thanks to your reggae musician father, you grew up surrounded by music. How did he/does he continue to shape your musical tastes?
I grew up listening to mostly classic rock. Reggae was always there because it was “daddy’s music,” but even he was influenced by The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. I still love that sound, and I incorporate it in my acoustic music.
You’ve said that the musicality is what drew you to the role of Mylene. Can you tell us a bit about that transition to being in front of the camera?
It was an easy transition, since I had done some modeling prior to the show. I remember hearing the term “act by ear.” I think I act by ear.
In what ways do you and don’t you connect with the character of Mylene?
The girly side of Mylene was a bit challenging because I’m a tomboy. You know, some of the outfits were kind of over the top and revealing—not the stuff I would pick for myself. I do connect with that part of her that loves her friends and wanted to include them in her success. That’s me: The more, the merrier.
Speaking of the way she dresses, there’s such iconic fashion in the show. Have you had any favorite pieces you’ve gotten to wear?
Well there were really cool funky pieces worn by some of my other cast mates that I liked. The big fro and vibrant colors really rocked. I feel like fashion back then had a lot of soul in it, just like the music.
How would you describe your own personal style when you aren’t in front of the cameras?
My style is vintage T-shirts, cutoffs, and boho chic. The simpler and more comfy, the better.