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Natalie Martinez: the Knockout Who Could Knock You Out

When the MMA-loving actress joined the fight drama "Kingdom," things got real.
carlos nunez

Walk into an audition looking like Natalie Martinez and you can expect to get typecast as the “hot chick.” Martinez, however, became a much rarer bird in Hollywood: the hot chick who kicks some serious ass.

MMA has been a passion of mine for years,” says the 31-year-old Cuban-American. “People hire me for physical roles, and I love playing them.”

No character has captured Martinez’s prowess in the ring quite like MMA fighter Alicia Mendez in the second season of Kingdom, a DirecTV drama set in the L.A. cage-fighting scene. “This was a show I really wanted to be a part of,” she says. “I get to fight all day!”

Kingdom follows a string of high-adrenaline film roles alongside action royalty, including Jason Statham (Death Race), Mark Wahlberg (Broken City), and Ryan Reynolds in last summer’s Self/less. It’s all the more remarkable considering she got her start as a pretty face—at 24, she was hired as the spokesmodel for JLo’s clothing line.

It was only a matter of time before that fiery side came out: As the first generation of her family to be born in the States, Martinez has a strong connection to her Latin roots. “I do Cuban meals, I speak Spanish...,” she says. “Growing up around strong Latina women, it’s what I know. Strength is attractive—I love a woman who comes out on top.”

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