J.R. Martinez - 7 facts: Actor talks 'Army Wives,' 'DWTS: All-Stars' (Exclusive)
J.R. Martinez, season 13 winner of "Dancing with the Stars" may not be doing the Cha-Cha-Cha in the ballroom anymore, but the actor and army veteran has plenty on his plate in his personal life.
The 29-year-old "All My Children" alum recently sat down with OTRC.com correspondent Tony Cabrera to talk about his ongoing love for "Dancing With The Stars," his renewed focus on acting and his full-time job as a father.
He guest stars on the season 6 finale of the Lifetime series "Army Wives" on Sunday, September 9 at 10 p.m. ET
Check out 7 facts about J.R. Martinez, regarding his on-screen roles and life as a father.
1. J.R. Martinez is looking forward to "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars."
"It's crazy to think that literally, almost a year from right now was when the cast was announced for season 13, and now we're getting ready to talk about season 15," he told OTRC.com "It's been a year later since I started the show, and it's just been crazy the things that have happened to me ever since I was on that show."
"I mean 'Dancing' is a big machine, a very powerful platform, to just show the world who you are aside from maybe what they know, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity, and I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to learn to ballroom dance with Karina [Smirnoff], but at the same time, just entertain millions of people every single week," he said.
The 15th installment of the ABC ballroom dancing competition series debuts on September 24 and brings back past winners and favorites, including Shawn Johnson, Kirstie Alley, Bristol Palin and fellow soap star, Kelly Monaco of "General Hospital."
Martinez said he was busy traveling after he won "Dancing With The Stars" in 2011 and was unable to watch most of the past 14th season.
"I went to a couple of the shows, but this season, I'm a little more excited about, 'cause it's the 'All-Star season," he said. "You know I'm looking forward to seeing old champions come back, fan favorites, controversial people - and just see how they do and I think it's going to be funky mixing up the partners. So I'm excited just like everyone else."
He says he was not asked to participate in the "All-Stars" season, but does not appear upset about it.
"It was just too recent for me to consider it and for them to consider me but it's one of those things I would do again," he told OTRC.com "Just for the opportunity to continue to push myself and ... fine-tune maybe my Cha-Cha that I messed up on or my Paso Doble I messed up on and really come out there and show the judges and everyone else that there's room for improvement."
He said he is rooting for his old partner, Karina Smirnoff, and her new one on "Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars," Apolo Ohno.
2. "Dancing With The Stars" gave him the chance to showcase his funny side.
"'Dancing' is a major machine and it gave an opportunity to show the world who I am outside of what they knew before that, which was an actor on 'All My Children,' which is you stick to a script, you don't really get to see personality. And then a veteran - you know? Someone that was injured in Iraq in 2003," Martinez told OTRC.com.
"[Dancing] gave me the opportunity to show people that I'm funny, that I am human, I have my down days, but I have a lot of good days - my survival mode, my ability to be able to learn how to do something on the spot and perform it very well," he said.
3. 2012 was a busy year for Martinez - he wrote a book, welcomed a baby girl and nabbed a new TV role on "Army Wives."
"I just started going back to motivational speaking," Martinez told OTRC.com. "I just completed a book, you know a memoir which kept me busy as well, which is going to come out in October. Then I had a baby - had a little beautiful little girl in May, and it's just been non-stop. Then 'Army Wives' came up. For me acting was something that I kind of just, I stumbled into it when I got my role in 'All My Children' in 2008 and it evolved into a three-year role on the show."
"I fell in love with that inner, creativeness to be able to become a character, to portray something, to tell a story," he said. "So I just wanted to kind of explore a lot of those opportunities that exist and 'Army Wives' is out there and they said, you know it actually made a lot of sense, you know the transition for me to come on the show."
On "Army Wives," Martinez plays a therapist who helps a tough general.
"My character is inspirational, kind of picking somebody up," he told OTRC.com "That's easy. That's now even acting for me. That's just who I am. If I see you down, I'm like, 'Pick it up, man, come on you can do this.' So really, in a lot of ways, it wasn't acting. It was just me being J.R. Martinez, just under another name on another show."
4. He's "jumped into the pool of entertainment."
"Now that the book is out, now that I've completed, you know, a lot of my motivational speaking, I have a couple things to do for the rest of the year, but now I really want to focus on getting back into entertainment," Martinez told OTRC.com. "I want to continue to look at what opportunities are out there in regards to acting, whether it's TV or film, but I also now have the complete entertainment bug and I am thinking of ideas of putting shows on television."
"I'm coming up with cool concepts that I think people will enjoy watching, you know, every evening by yourself, with your significant other, with co-workers, with friends or your family. So, I've got some cool ideas brewing around," he said. "I'm talking to my agents and some friends about putting things together, so I've jumped into the pool of entertainment."
5. He almost quit "All My Children."
"I definitely talk about it in my book, 'Full of Heart,'" he said. "There's a lot more details of how I went from just a regular guy on the street doing motivational speaking, into getting the email from 'All My Children' saying 'Hey, come try out for this part,' and then going, and then it's supposed to be a three month role, and the difficult things that I faced as well - transitioning into this new world, where I was the rookie, I was the guy off the street and I was in a world of daytime television where there's a lot of veteran actors and well-respected actors."
"I mean, I was on a show with Susan Lucci, you know? And every other actor on that show that's polished and trained," he said. "So, there was a lot of pressure - there was a lot of difficult times with me being able to adapt completely and make this work. There were a lot of times I just said to myself, you know, 'What am I doing here? This is not for me. This is the wrong place for me.'"
Martinez said that he was "almost somewhat on the verge of kind of giving up and not wanting to do it anymore," adding: "But there were just cool things that kept happening for me that kept me going, and just showed me, 'You know what? Don't stop - just keep it going.'"
6. Martinez never thought he'd be where he is today.
The Louisiana native, whose full first name is Jose Rene, was deployed to fight with U.S. forces in Iraq in 2003 and suffered burns to more than 40 percent of his body after a Humvee he was driving hit roadside bomb. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries to repair the damage, which includes burns on his face and legs.
"For me, this journey has been completely unpredictable," he told OTRC.com. "I never would have thought nine years ago, when I was in the hospital fighting for my life at 19 years old, that I would be here, and doing the things that I'm doing today. It just shows that life will always change, or platforms will always change, but what you have to do is change with it. You can't be stuck on a certain thing."
"You have to be able to adapt and bring your tools and the great things you have into this new platform, into this new opportunity and make it work and I think I've been able to do that pretty successfully," he said. "So, October 30, look for it, 'Full of Heart,' I'll be at the bookstore smiling at you."
7. The actor is embracing being a father ... to 'Chucky' ...
"I don't think you're ever really prepared for being a parent - especially for the first time - and I wasn't," he told OTRC.com. "I thought to myself, 'Oh, it's going to be cool, it's going to be fine,' and I never really grasped what it was about."
"All my friends would tell me two major things: One, 'Get a lot of sleep now, because you won't sleep later,' which wasn't happening as much as I was working. And then two, 'You'll never experience love like this ever again in your life,'" he said. "And I never knew what that meant, understandably so, because I wasn't a father yet, but once our daughter was born, it clicked."
"It was amazing to hold her for the first time and to look at her eyes and when she was crying and just know that, she depends on you, and you've got to take care of her, and everything that I do from this point on for the rest of my life will and can affect her," Martinez added.
He said his daughter is now about four months old and can talk.
"She just goes to town," he said, adding: "She sucks on her hand a lot so I call them her chicken fingers - she loves chicken fingers. And she's more alert now, so the minute you walk past her, it's like a 'Chucky' - you know like when Chucky turns his head? She does this slow turn and then follows you."
Being a father has changed Martinez's priorities.
"But it truly is an amazing thing, man, and it's one of the most important roles that I look at right now in my life and it's funny how things change," he told OTRC.com "Now my agent says, 'Hey we've got an event for you to do in Miss or Minn or DC and I'm like, 'OK, what's is the latest flight I can take and how soon can I be back home?' Because I want to hold my girl."Reporting by Tony Cabrera, correspondent for KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).