When I first spotted Erika Martínez in the Goodwill store in Portland, Oregon, I knew that she was a hidden gem–a star waiting to be brought to life. I was a bit timid at first, casually walking up and down the aisles catching quick glances. I decided to be bold and approach this shockingly beautiful face.
As I arrived by her side, palms sweaty from nerves, I tried to make eye contact. To my surprise she hardly acknowledged my existence, playing hard-to-get I presume. I stood there awkwardly, waiting for some sort of sign. It was only when I eventually maneuvered myself directly in front of her that our eyes finally met. Sparks flew, my mind began to spin endlessly, and it was then and there that I knew Erika and I…we had something real.
From what I could gather, Erika’s envious life as a model had lead her to this Goodwill Store on a photo shoot. She had been scheduled for an autograph session the next day in Powell’s Book Store, however she decided to ditch her appointment and join my friends and I on the rest of our west coast road trip excursion.
During the following week, we had the opportunity to get to know each other better. One afternoon, Erika revealed to me that she wanted to be an actress. It had been her life-time dream to be a telenovela star. As a lifelong fan of actress Gabriela Spanic, Erika had repeatedly watched from beginning to end the famous Mexican soap opera, La Usurpadora. In this tale of power and lust, a plot twist reveals that two look-alike girls happen to be identical twins separated at birth. Intrigued by Erika’s intense interest, I asked her which of the sisters she better related too: the evil Paola, or the innocent Paulina. Erika gazed back into my eyes, but never answered my question.
The next day, Erika was nowhere to be found. I came across a sticky-note on one of her abandoned hair-accessories informing me she had to return to her American thrift-store modeling tour. My heart was broken.
My scheduled fall tour with Justin Bieber was only a month out, but without Erika my life just wasn’t the same. News flashes announced Erika’s upcoming role in a new Spanish soap opera called Pueblo. Possible male counter roles were in a selection process between Brad Pitt and Leonardo Dicaprio. I sunk into my bed, nostalgic for that day in Portland when Erika and I shared a Kombucha tea.
A week later, I received a phone call from unknown director, Eve Richer, requesting my collaboration in the very soap opera Erika would star in.
“Erika Martínez won’t play the role without you,” she said.
My heart pounded. I couldn’t form any words. I had been hand-picked by THE Erika Martínez? I didn’t hesitate for an instant.
“I’ll do it,” I replied. “I’m on the next flight!”