'Roswell, New Mexico' Star Jeanine Mason on How Reboot Tackles the U.S. Undocumented Experience (Exclusive)
Roswell, New Mexico is ready to deliver a heartfelt love story, while also tackling socially conscious topics.
The CW reboot stars Jeanine Mason as Liz Ortecho, a Mexican-American woman who returns to her hometown of Roswell and discovers that her teenage crush, Max Evans (Nathan Parsons), and his family are aliens. The 27-year-old actress sat down with ET Live on Tuesday to chat about the new iteration, as well as explain how the series draws a parallel between space aliens and undocumented immigrants.
“It’s going back to the book series, which it’s all based off. Melinda Metz wrote Roswell High, and I am so impressed with what she had her finger on the pulse for back then,” Mason explained. “It’s about a Mexican-American woman, Liz Ortecho, and we’re honoring that in this iteration. It’s just a fun property. There’s a reason everybody loves Liz and Max, and I thought it was just the perfect time to do this, to really honor the political climate, the place, New Mexico, the culture is just so vibrant.”
Roswell originally aired from 1999 to 2001. The original show starred Shiri Appleby as Liz Parker and Jason Behr as Max. This time around, Mason said, the series makes sure to touch on the topics that are affecting the U.S.
“[Portraying an accurate experience of an undocumented immigrant] honestly is at the forefront of this job every day,” Mason explained. “Liz Ortecho, her parent is undocumented. So it was a different kind of fear and anxiety that I wanted to try and honor to the best of my capability, [which is] living every day feeling like your family unit, the stability in your life, is unsafe. I am so grateful to our writers and our showrunner, Carina Adly MacKenzie, who was so on top of it. They worked with an amazing organization, Define American… they work with media, journalists, TV shows, whatever it might be, to make sure that the portrayals of the undocumented experience are accurate. I had all the help I needed and I hope it translates to people and just opens up their heart a little more.”
So how was it working with Appleby, who directed one of the New Mexico episodes?
“Playing anything in front of Shiri, because she is such a good actor, would’ve been nerve-wracking, but this was probably the best because she loves this so much. She loves this story,” Mason shared. “She was so excited. Every moment was like, ‘What can we infuse into this to make the fans happy and just honor it fully?'”
Describing her character as “jaded,” Mason also explained how Liz experiences a “revelation” that “turns her whole world upside down.” “It’s definitely a different degree of weight and life responsibilities, but all that same love is there.”
As the series premieres on Tuesday, Jan. 15, ET also spoke with Appleby, where she explained how the reboot is “modernizing” the role of Liz.
Watch below to hear what she shared. Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.