Amber Midthunder didn’t have to go far from home to film her role in “Roswell, New Mexico.”
“We shoot the show mostly in Santa Fe studios – I grew up out in the country [in New Mexico]. My parents own property that happens to be extremely close to the studio,” says Midthunder, 29, who’s also known for FX’s “Legion.”
Already renewed for a third season, the CW’s reboot of “Roswell,” (Mondays at 9 p.m.) follows Liz Ortecho, a young Mexican-American woman who returns to her hometown after a stint away. There, she reconnects with her undocumented immigrant father and her old flame Max (Nathan Dean Parsons), a local cop who’s secretly a real alien. Midthunder plays Liz’s sister Rosa, who died 10 years before the events of the show under mysterious circumstances. At the end of Season 1, Max uses his alien powers to resurrect her.
Season 2 sees Midthunder bumped up to series regular (she was recurring in Season 1) as Rosa adjusts to life after being dead for a decade — and finds herself at the center of the intrigue.
“She’s definitely in a weird place,” says Midthunder. “I think the strangest thing for her is wrapping her head around the whole experience of the lost time. The whole world is different. Everyone around her is different; they’ve all moved on. Aside from everything else that she’s dealing with, she now has to wrap her head around a.) aliens are real, b.) one killed her and brought her back to life and c.) she lost out on 10 years.”
Liz and Rosa’s twenty-something ages is one of the main differences between “Roswell, New Mexico” and the original show (which aired from 1999-2002 on the now-defunct UPN and the WB) where Liz was a teen (played by Shiri Appleby).
Midthunder is a fan of the original, but since Rosa wasn’t in that series, she’s starting from scratch. “I’ve seen [‘Roswell’], but I think in this world, it’s very clear that we’re kind of creating our own universe, as much as we’re all huge fans of the original,” she says. “Especially with Rosa, because she’s not in the original show, I get to discover her as we go — and all her different circumstances and situations.”
The other difference between the “Roswell” reboot and the original is the Ortechos’ background, since Liz was caucasian in the original. Midthunder — who’s father David is also an actor (“Westworld”) — is of Native American descent, enrolled in the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe. She says she’s put a lot of thought into the question of playing characters with various backgrounds.
“I’m fine with drawing the line and saying ‘This is not my culture’ and getting the blessing of the people who’s culture it is,” she says. “There’s a lot of that with the Native American world … truly what matters is that somebody who feels connected to the people and has that blessing — and also knows where to draw that line and say ‘I’m not the best person to do that role.’
“Culturally mostly what I relate to is being Native American. My mom was born in Thailand, my dad has some different mixes,” she says. “But I care a lot about cultural integrity. I care about accurate representation. I am New Mexico born and bred, and so this is a world I feel comfortable being in.
“These are my people,” she says. “This is absolutely, undeniably a part of me.”
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