Ricky Martin was born in Puerto Rico to a Catholic family on December 24, 1971, per People. Raised in a middle-class household, his mom, Nereida Morales, worked as an accountant, while dad Enrique Martín Negroni was a psychologist. Despite his parents’ analytical professions, Martin was drawn to creative pursuits. The entertainment bug bit him from a young age; as a child, he loved entertaining people and would perform plays for strangers on the street. Soon enough, however, he landed his first acting gigs and began appearing in commercials.
His debut professional appearance was in an ad for Orange Crush, followed by a Burger King commercial. Appearing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in 2020 (via Out), Martin revealed that it was his cousin who auditioned for the soda commercial; he just accompanied him. However, the casting team recognized Martin’s star quality and went with him instead. “But it’s ok, it happens!” he joked. “We love each other, it’s all good.”
Both of these ads aired in the mainland United States, which helped to introduce the tween to the North American market. As Martin recalled to Rolling Stone, appearing in the aforementioned commercials led to him becoming a tad cocky. “It was good money: $1,600 the first day and residuals every six months,” he said. “After that I said, ‘Dad, I want to become independent.’ He was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Well, now I have money, I can pay for my school and books, and I want a bicycle.’”