In her latest role, actress-singer-dancer Roselyn Sánchez reinvents the iconic character of Mr. Roarke in the reboot of the Fantasy Island TV series, now in its second season on FOX. Sánchez, 49, whose previous TV series include Lifetime’s Devious Maids and CBS’ Without a Trace, is grateful to have the opportunity to reinvent Fantasy Island for a new generation of fans, as well as return to her native Puerto Rico for the show’s tropical location.
Did you watch the original Fantasy Island?
I have very vivid, specific images of me growing up in Puerto Rico and the Tattoo character [yelling] — “El avión! El avión!” [“The plane! The plane!”] — and looking forward to seeing who is the next big guest star. Of course, when I booked Fantasy Island to play [Elena] Roarke, I went on YouTube and I started devouring it. I started looking at everything because I wanted to study.
Did you ever dream of one day being a guest on the show?
No. I’m lying if I tell you that was one of my dreams. It would have been fantastic. But no, I never had a dream to be a guest star on Fantasy Island, but maybe because I grew up in “fantasy island.” To me, Puerto Rico is like a fantasy island. I lived where people vacation. It’s a fantasy every single day.
If you had an opportunity to go to an actual island where wishes are granted, would you go? And what would you ask for?
One hundred percent I would go. I think it would be magical. I would not like to go by myself. I would like to go with my husband and two kids so I have company and the people that I love the most. What would be my fantasy? Maybe once we get there, I can read their thoughts so I know exactly what they’re thinking and what they are feeling.
Who is your dream guest star?
I often mention Ricky Martin because I would like to do a musical episode of Fantasy Island. I think it would be so clever and so beautiful to be able to do a musical. Gloria Estefan would be another [guest] so absolutely awesome to have.
What do you miss most about Puerto Rico when you're not there?
My family. My mom and dad. I left Puerto Rico when I was 21. It’s been almost 30 years since I left. They’re getting older. Everytime I get to see them, they age more and more. When I go back I [think], I have missed so much. The same thing with my nieces and nephews. I love them to death. … So to be able to do Fantasy in Puerto Rico, those four months, even though I’m working like crazy … I’m 25 minutes away. That’s why Fantasy has been such an incredible blessing, and an opportunity for me to be back on TV on a show that I enjoy. And to be able to do it back home and be close to my friends and family. I feel very lucky.
What do you consider your true passion: acting, dancing or singing?
To be honest, I love the three disciplines beyond belief. ... I grew up dancing since I was 4 years old, so what comes organic to me is dancing. It’s like an extension of who I am. Singing is something that, if I would have been privileged like a Celine Dion or one of those amazing unique one-of-a-kind voices, I would definitely be touring the world and singing. I think there is something so incredible about being able to touch people’s feelings through music. But acting is what I studied the most. It’s my vocation. It has enabled me an incredible lifestyle, and I truly, truly enjoy it.
You and your husband [Eric Winter, 46] are both actors and host the He Said, Ella Dijo [She Said] podcast. Is there competition being married to another actor?
Not with Eric. We met when we were in our 30s, and we both came from previous marriages, so we were mature enough and clear enough to understand if we’re going to do this, jealousy and insecurity and limitations can’t be a part of the equation.
Do you want your kids to go into the family business?
They’re showing no interest. Funny enough, I thought I was going to have a little dancer … and I tried my best. At [age] 3½ [my daughter] was taking ballet. By [age] 6, she looked at me and was like, “I don’t like ballet.”... She’s a tennis player. She’s a sporty soccer girl. That’s her passion. She’s incredible at it. … It’s her path. It’s her journey. It’s not mine to live. I’m going to support her whatever it is.
How do you feel about turning 50 this year?
I’m so confused that I’m turning 50. You have no idea. There’s a part of me that goes: I love it. I’m so proud of myself. Everybody raves that I don't look my age, and what an incredible life I’m having up to 50. But then there’s another part that goes: 50, I’m going to be 50 years old. I don’t even know how to feel about it, to be honest. I do know I’m going to throw a big, big fiesta — an extravaganza.
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