Only four couples remain on Season 29 of Dancing with the Stars and only one strutting celebrity will be named the latest victor. Any of them have a chance at the ultimate prize in the upcoming final round, but if Justina Machado wins, at 48 years old, she would become the oldest champion in the popular reality competition’s history.
The Latina Chicago native actually did take dance years earlier at the Franklin Fine Arts Center in her youth. Yet, what made Justina Machado a star worthy of becoming a participant on the hit ABC show was acting, which she has done since she made her debut in a 1993 after-school special. Her acting credits have since piled up immensely, along with her popularity.
However, for the few Dancing with the Stars obsessives who may have been struggling to recall where they recognize their new favorite contestant from, allow us to help. The following are 11 of Justina Machado’s more notable roles, starting with the sitcom that gave her a big step toward household name status.
One Day At A Time (2017 - Present)
In this modernized update of the classic 1970s sitcom (more by title than anything else), Justina Machado plays a divorced nurse and military veteran raising her teenage daughter (Isabella Gomez) and younger son (Marcel Ruiz) with unwanted help from her mother (Rita Moreno) and manager of her apartment building (Todd Grinnell). While Netflix has been known for reviving cancelled shows, the platform actually kicked One Day at a Time, despite critical and audience acclaim, after three seasons before it was picked up by Pop, the cable network that Emmy-winner Schitt’s Creek once called home.
Final Destination 2 (2003)
Speaking of tragic endings, one of Justina Machado’s earlier major motion picture roles was in the sequel to the 2000 slasher that made a villain out of Death itself. The new doomed ensemble cast of Final Destination 2 believes that the unborn child of her pregnant character, Isabella Hudson, may be the key to cheating fate.
Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
Speaking of fate, death was actually a major theme of this acclaimed HBO dramedy about a family running a Los Angeles funeral home. Justina Machado’s role on Six Feet Under as Vanessa Diaz, wife of Fisher & Sons’ restorative assistant Rico Diaz (Freddy Rodriguez), is just one of the many times she has played a nurse on TV and one of three on this list alone.
Justina Machado has also played a few members of law enforcement in her day, like Torque - an attempt to capitalize on the early success of The Fast and the Furious, but with motorcycles. She plays Henderson, an FBI agent investigating the murder of a feared biker gang leader’s (Ice Cube) brother with her partner Jay McPherson (played by a pre-stardom Adam Scott).
She also once played the suspect of an FBI investigation in a Season 6 episode of Bones in which Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) look into the deaths of a pair of male and female corpses found in a national park. Justina Machado turns on the sass in “The Couple in the Cave” as Lupe Rojas, who turns out to be the ex-girlfriend of the male corpse, who apparently left her for the female he was found with.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Justina Machado would actually end up a (SPOILER ALERT) victim of murder in yet another starring role in the second chapter of a popular horror movie franchise. However, there was no investigation into the death of her character, Tanya, because, in the world of The Purge: Anarchy, her sister Lorraine (Roberta Valderrama) was able to legally shoot and kill her for sleeping with her husband behind her back.
Private Practice (2012-2013)
As Shonda Rhimes fans know, there is always plenty of sleeping around among the staff of St. Ambrose Hospital - the setting of her hit medical drama Private Practice. As Stephanie Kemp, Justina Machado (in her third time playing a nurse that we have listed here) had a love connection of her own on the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off with Taye Diggs’ character, Dr. Sam Bennett.
Romance was also a major theme, but more tragically so, of this MTV original movie based on the life of Cuban-American Pedro Zamora - who became famous as an openly gay and HIV-positive cast member of reality series The Real World before his death in 1994. Justina Machado plays Mily Zamora, the sister of Pedro, played by Alex Loynaz.
Jane The Virgin (2016-2019)
Alex Loynaz also made a couple of appearances on the first season of Jane the Virgin, in which the titular devoutly religious Latina waitress (Gina Rodriguez) discovers she was artificially inseminated by accident. Justina Machado would become a recurring cast member on the hit CW dramedy in Season 3 as the no-nonsense Darci Factor - whose own matchmaking service led to her strike up a relationship with Jane’s previously estranged father, telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega (Jaime Camil).
Gears Of War 4 (2016)
Justina Machado has also lent her voice to many animated characters, the most famous of which might be Reyna Diaz - a natural-born hybrid of human DNA with that of the enemy alien race called Locusts. She first appeared in Gears of War 4 - the fifth installment of the popular video game franchise for Xbox set during the aftermath of an alien apocalypse - and again in 2019’s Gears 5.
Elena Of Avalor (2016-2020)
One of Justina Machado’s most consistent voice roles was on Elena of Avalor, a Disney Channel original animated series about a Latina princess played by Aimee Carerro. She voices the recurring role of Carmen, the granddaughter of a ghostly spirit who requests Princess Elena’s help on a special episode set on Dia de los Muertos.
What do you think? Will you be rooting for Justina Machado in the Dancing with the Stars finals, or will you still be proud of her past accomplishments as a Latina actress even if she does not become the new champion? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the multi-talented Puerto Rican star, as well as even more inside looks into the resumes of your favorite celebrities, here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.