Santina Muha: Living Her Pop Culture Dream
Santina Muha is a comedian, actress, writer, producer and disability activist. Her many roles in film and television include appearances opposite Joaquin Phoenix in the Gus Van Zant film “Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot” and the role of Beth on “One Day at a Time.” She recently wrote, recorded and shot a music video called “Ass Level.”
Here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Santina.
Passionistas: What are you most passionate about?
Santina: I'm very passionate about TV and pop culture and all of that. I'm also very passionate about food, particularly Italian food and Italian culture. And I'm very passionate about dogs and animals and tea. I drink tea every day. I drink black tea in the morning. I drink green tea in the afternoon. I drink herbal tea at night, so I do drink more tea than anyone I know.
Passionistas: Go back to your childhood and when did you first become interested in pop culture and what was your childhood like and what role did pop culture play in that?
Santina: I was in a car accident when I was almost six years old. Any memories I have walking, I know I was at least five or younger. Right. And I can remember walking every time, like certain commercials would come on, I would jump up and position myself.
Like where would I be in this commercial? Okay. It's Zach, the legal maniac. I'm his little backup girlfriend and dancer, you know, like. And I was in dance when I was little and Oh, and then MTV. So I lived with, I lived in what I like to call an Italian full house because my mom and I moved back in with her parents after my parents got divorced and my two uncles lived in the house and they were young, my mom was 20 and they were her two younger brothers.
So they were still in high school. And I had so much fun living with these cool young uncles. We would watch MTV. I would dress up like Bon Jovi. I mean, cause I'm a Jersey girl. So of course Bon Jovi. It just was always in the background. And then when I got in the accident, I watched beetle juice every day.
They only had two movies on my floor, "Beetlejuice", and "Ernest Goes to Camp", which, so I watched the "Beetlejuice" every day and I played Super Mario Brothers. You could rent the Nintendo for like blocks of time and I would play that. So, I mean, it also kind of got me through some of those hard times where I couldn't leave my hospital room for essentially a year.
And so it got me through those tough times, too. I remember watching PeeWee Herman during my sponge bath every Saturday, it was like “PeeWee's Playhouse” during the sponge bath, you know? So it, it, it really got me through would watch golden girls with my non that that was my mom's mom and they were Italian off the boat.
So I spoke Italian as much as I spoke, if not more than English growing up. And my Nona who didn't really speak a lot of English and me who was four years old, we would watch golden girls together. So we, we didn't really understand the jokes. But we did know that when Dorothy made a face, the audience laughed right.
I learned some of my comedic timing from Dorothy Zbornak and Sophia on "The Golden Girls", you know, and all of that sort of translated to when I got out of the hospital. And now here I was this little girl in a wheelchair, the saddest thing anyone ever saw, you know, in our society. And they would look at me like, How you doing?
And I'm like, Oh God, I am depressing. So I would have to cut the tension. And I learned from golden girls and one day at a time, which I later got to be on the reboot. All of these shows, I learned like, Hey, make a joke, make a face, do it thing. And then it will ease the tension. It really has helped me just make it through, you know, life.
To keep up with her projects follow her on Instagram @santinamuha.
Hear Santina’s complete episode here.