Justina Machado is all about keeping it real.
The star of Netflix’s critically acclaimed series One Day at a Time is receiving Emmy buzz for her role as single mom and army veteran Penelope Alvarez — and there’s no doubt the actress will be very excited if she snags a nomination.
“It’s very exciting. I have my fingers crossed,” Machado, 45, tells PEOPLE about the attention she’s received for her work on the show. “I’m one of those people. I’m not gonna tell you ‘No, I don’t want it.’ I’m like ‘Yes, yes!’ I’m hoping for it, I’m praying for it. I think our show deserves it, and I’m so grateful it’s being celebrated the way it is.”
Currently hard at work on the show’s third season, Machado — who also has a recurring role on Jane the Virgin — says she’s been moved by the fans who have reached out to her since it began airing.
“I knew it was a good show and that people were going to enjoy it, but the fact that people have responded this way is incredible,” she says. “Many veterans, a lot of single moms, people who have overcome depression … so many people have reached out.”
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It’s also especially touching when her young fans approach her. “Beautiful little girls say ‘I wish you were my mom!’ It’s so cute. There’s so much representation on so many levels.”
Despite the show’s success, Machado still hasn’t treated herself to a big splurge. “Actors are always waiting for something bad to happen,” she says, laughing. “At first I was hoping we got the third season. Once we got the third season, there wasn’t any time to do anything!”
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But should she, the show or any of her cast mates receive any Emmy noms, there will definitely be “the biggest party ever,” says the entertainer.
Over the years, Machado has also built unbreakable bonds with many fellow Latina actresses and says the friendships mean everything to her.
“I’ve always had a lot of women friends. It’s always been important to me and I’m so grateful that I have this network of wonderful, talented, brilliant women,” she says about her friends, including Gina Rodriguez and Eva Longoria. “I know it sounds so cliché, but none of this would matter if I didn’t have anybody to share it with.”