While couch surfing, she’d started booking jobs with the help of an agent. Her first major role came in 2015—a lead in the horror sequel Blair Witch, where it took 36 takes to nail her death scene. “That’s when I kind of lost my mind,” she says. Hernandez is also a regular on the Epix dramedy Graves, playing a “tatted up” muse to Nick Nolte’s former POTUS who is going through an existential crisis. “The show is about taking responsibility for being alive,” Hernandez says, referencing a quote from Joan Didion.
Just a few years earlier, Hernandez was “waking up every day feeling like, ‘I know there’s something I’m supposed to be doing that I’m not doing, and I don’t know what it is.’” This was in 2012. “I call it the lost year,” Hernandez says, laughing that laugh. “Because it was a bit wild.” Living in Austin, Texas, untethered to any commitments, Hernandez decided to join a friend, musician Jess Williamson, on tour across the Pacific Northwest. “It was really beautiful,” she says. “I got to accompany Jess on the cello for two weeks. It was just the two of us driving through these rainstorms.” When Hernandez returned from tour, something in her had changed. “I hate to sound like, ‘The universe decided for me,’ because I don’t think I’m that special, but by the time I got back, everything was gone, missing, stripped. And that was the moment that I decided I would do the thing that I buried for so long.”
That thing was acting, a vocation Hernandez wanted to pursue as a child, but an impulse which she quieted at a pivotal moment in her life. “I remember getting in the shower when I was about 12, thinking, ‘It’s selfish to want to try and be in the arts. I should just be a teacher and be happy with a simple life.’ And I convinced myself. It was so painful to deny that I wanted to do it all this time.”
As swiftly as she’d buried it, Hernandez recommitted to her unearthed childhood ambition. “It sounds so cheesy,” she says. “But it was like a now-or-never moment—I didn’t have anything else to lose.” And so came the move to New York, acting school, auditioning, an agent, going for broke, and finally, making it. “I do applaud myself on being a bit of a jumper,” she says. “If I feel something’s right, I just sort of put my blinders on and do it.”
Hair: Kylee Heath at Starworks Artists using R + Co. Makeup: Fiona Stiles at Starworks Artists using Fiona Stiles Beauty.