As Lifetime’s fastest-growing drama ever, it was a no-brainer for the network to renew the hit drama series Devious Maids, from show creator Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) and inspired by the hit telenovela, Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar, for a second 13-episode season. Daring, edgy, sometimes dark and always funny, the series centers on a close-knit group of maids – played by Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramírez, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem and Judy Reyes – who are bonded together by their jobs, their life struggles and their boss’ melodramatic universe.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actress Roselyn Sánchez talked about how much of a guilty pleasure the show has become, how happy she is that the show has changed skeptical perceptions, how exciting it is to be a part of a show that can change the representation of Latinos on television, how much the actors have had an affect on their characters, having to work without ever knowing what’s coming next in the story, why she likes her character so much, how much she loves getting to sing on the show, getting to share this experience with her co-stars, and what she’d like to learn about her character in Season 2. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: This show has really become one of those guilty pleasures that people can watch and have fun with. Is that how it felt, when you read it? Did it read like one of those delicious nighttime soaps?
ROSELYN SANCHEZ: 100%. And I knew it was Marc Cherry writing it and that his tone is very specific. After doing drama for so long, I was looking forward to doing something like this. For me, it was incredible. When I read it, I enjoyed it. I laughed. I loved the characters. They were all so different, but so clever. I was like, “You know what? This is the right job for me, at this stage in my life. I just want to have a laugh. I want to go to work and just laugh.” It’s fantastic!
Was it important to you that, if you were going to explore stereotypes in this show that it covers everybody?
SANCHEZ: For sure! I heard about the show through Eva [Longoria], before anybody new about it. She said, “Marc is doing a show about five Latina maids, and it’s from a Mexican format.” Some people said that when they heard that, they had a little bit of a problem. With me, I have to be honest with you, I never felt like that. I was like, “I don’t think he’s going to do anything demeaning. I don’t think Eva would allow him to do something that is going to be demeaning to the culture.” And when I read it, it didn’t disappoint me. It’s a laugh. And it’s caricatures of everybody. It doesn’t matter the race. It’s heightened reality, so I didn’t take it that seriously. Listen, I love my culture. I would be the first one to say, “This is unacceptable!,” but it was perfectly fine.
Was it great to hear the reaction after the show started airing and find out that people were really getting it in the way that it was intended?
SANCHEZ: It was huge! I was surprised about the backlash. It was so interesting when everybody said, “Why is this so stereotypical?,” and I was like, “You have to see it first, guys. Just chill. It’s not that deep. Would you rather have a show with five Latina secondary roles that have three lines per episode? Be smart about it.” I’m super happy that, yeah, once people saw the show, everybody thought it was funny. We’ve been able to turn people around. People who were like, “I hate the idea of it all,” watched and then said, “It’s actually fun. I laughed.” And it’s a nighttime soap opera.
SANCHEZ: It’s amazing! We’re very excited. We knew the responsibility. We feel blessed. We knew each from before, for years. The Latino community is very small. So, to be able to go to work with your friends and say, “Guys, I think we’re doing something special. This is meaningful. And if it hits and does well, so many doors will open. Within two or three years, you’ll see a lot of Latino shows on TV.” Sofia Vergara’s character on Modern Family has become such an icon. It’s so big, representing that kind of Latina and that kind of humor. Five years ago, you would never have found casting calls saying, “We’re looking for that type,” ever. It was the opposite. In my experience, it’s always been, “Can you do it without the accent? Can you be less Latina?” Now, every time you go out for something, they want a Sofia Vergara type. Now, they love it because someone came in and did it right and it changed everything. That’s the opportunity that Devious Maids has for the Latino community and for actors that are Latino.
How much were these women on the page the way they are now, and how much changed once you were cast and brought your own personalities to it?
SANCHEZ: I think it was a little bit of both. Marc was so clever and so smart when he picked every person for their role. Every character has a little bit of the actor. Like my character, as Roselyn, I said I wanted to be a big singer in real life. I think we all have a little bit of something that we brought to the table, as the character. And Marc has been fantastic at giving us the freedom to make it our own, but he’s very specific about what he wants. There’s a part of you that fights that, a little bit, when you think you wouldn’t do it how he wants it, but he’s so specific that you just want to please him. And then, you find out that 99.9% of the time he’s right. You see the show and you think, “Oh, shit, he told me to do that and it was very funny.” Now, I’m like, “Whatever he wants, I’m gonna do it because he knows his shit.” He tells you, “That’s the punchline. They’re going to laugh at that line.” And funnily enough, people crack up at that line.
How much did you know about this character, in the beginning, and how much have you learned about her backstory, along the way?
SANCHEZ: I think the second season will be more comfortable for every single one of us to go to Marc and say, “I want to know where you’re taking it.” He’s very, very secretive about his work, and he wants you to discover along the way. Everything is about the shock factor. We knew enough. He wouldn’t give away everything. It’s been a discovery, which is awesome. We look forward to seeing every script, every week. It’s been great.
Has it been an adjustment to just have to deal with never knowing what’s coming next?
SANCHEZ: It’s refreshing, but it’s a little nerve-wracking. It was a little difficult. We all realized that we just have to play girls. You just have to go to work and play, and sometimes you don’t know everything. The reality is that it’s so well-written, you’ll be fine.
Your character is interesting because sometimes she seems manipulative, but other times she seems to not realize that she’s being manipulative. Is it challenging to strike that balance?
SANCHEZ: I love this girl because, at the beginning, when they told me the character description and I read the breakdown, you would have thought she’d be the sexy vixen who is the bitch of the group. I so much wanted to do something different because I’ve seen that many times before and I didn’t want the audience to just hate her. Her behavior is so outrageous and she’s so overly secure with herself that I thought people would have problems with that. So, at her core, she’s insecure. At her core, she’s a really good girl. That’s why she smiles a lot. She’s good people, but she’s very ambitious. She gets herself into trouble, but not maliciously. I don’t think she does things out of malice. I think she’s just trying to navigate through life and make it because her past was so dark. She’s trying to step away from that so badly that she overcompensates by being bigger than life, but she’s actually lovely. She can do something ridiculous that is not great, but then she feels awful for it. It doesn’t come from a bad place.
Is it fun to get to use your singing ability and have that side to your character, as well?
SANCHEZ: I love it! It means the world to me. I hope I get to sing more and more, and that I can participate more when it comes to choosing the songs and the vibe for her music. That’s important to me. But, I’m super happy that I get to sing. And I hope I get to dance more. That’s what I do best because I grew up as a dancer. I’m hoping that she makes it, and then I get to do a music video. And then, I can get fired and go back to being a maid. Or there can be a fantasy sequence, or something. That’s what I want.
How has it been to work with this great group of women and get to share this experience with them?
SANCHEZ: It’s awesome! It was the right time in our lives. We’re all mothers, or are soon-to-be mothers. Edy [Ganem] is the youngest one, so we would tell her, “Please don’t do it yet.” She’s married, but she has her whole life ahead of her. Five women working together is never going to be easy. It’s a lot. But God is so incredible, in terms of the timing, because we are all married with kids, in our late 30s and 40s. It’s a different stage in our lives. It’s not about who is going to be the one that’s going to pop. We’ve been so blessed with this opportunity. Our main focus and priority in life, even though we’re very ambitious and we want to work and have prosperity when it comes to work, is family. There’s something interesting about the fact that the best times we have is when we go to lunch with all of the girls and their kids. We’ll have play dates. They’ll all come over to my house and Dania [Ramirez] is cooking and the kids are playing. That’s what it’s all about. We realize that this happened for a reason and we have become a family. We get to play and do something fantastic, and the show is great and fun and we’re making money, and we’re able to shine altogether. But what’s important is friendship and family and love. So, it happened at this stage, for a reason.
What would you like to learn about your character for Season 2?
SANCHEZ: I wonder, is she going to make it and how is that going to play out? Is her husband going to come back again? How is she going to resolve this domestic abuse? Was that a first-time thing and a fluke, or was this guy abusive for a long time? Was he the reason why she escaped? It can’t be only that she wants to be a singer. She was married to him for 18 years. I want to know why she couldn’t have kids and how important it was to her to have kids. There’s a lot of development that I can’t wait to see.
Devious Maids airs on Sunday nights on Lifetime, with the Season 1 finale on September 22nd.