April 2003
Chasing Papi : An Interview with Roselyn Sanchez

Interviewed by Godfrey Powell

Chasing Papi: An Interview with Roselyn Sanchez

Even since she made a splash as one of the gifted individuals in the TV show Fame L.A a few years ago, this actress has been making good progress in getting good roles. Most will remember her as the no-nonsense evildoer in Rush Hour 2. Currently gracing the screen in Boat Trip and Basic, the gorgeous Roselyn Sanchez has another film coming out as she plays a buttoned up, repressed poetry loving lawyer in Chasing Papi. This character is a far cry from the fun loving, salsa dancing Roselyn. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Roselyn fills us in on her role in the film, her salsa embarrassment and being Miss Puerto Rico Petite.

GP: How were you cast in this movie?

RS: Two years ago I met Tajamika Paxton, Forest Whitaker’s partner and read the script for her. Then the project died down. Then they called me two years later and I told them I wanted to be Cici (the flamboyant character) just to be difficult. And I knew that if I was going to do this, I would be challenged. But they wanted me to be Lorena and I grew to like it as she is the only character that really evolves.

GP: My favorite scene in the movie is when you are walking in the hotel lobby, trip and fall down. The next shot shows you with your glasses fallen off and you shaking your hair in slow motion. Then Paul Rodriquez comes by and falsely believes you are in the beauty pageant being held there. You were Miss Puerto Rico Petite in real life. So impersonating Miss Puerto Rico in the movie was not a big stretch for you, right?

RS: (Laughing) (More laughing)

That whole Miss Puerto Rico scene was so much fun. The Latino audience is going to laugh so hard when they see that part because they’ve seen that before.

GP: So that wasn’t a big stretch for you.

RS: No, I pretended. I did my wave the wrong way. I did it very awkwardly. I couldn’t wait for that scene because I got tired of wearing my hair up with glasses throughout the movie.

GP: How would you compare this role with your recent roles in movies like Basic, Boat Trip and Rush Hour 2?

RS: This role is the most special one. I am super grateful for the opportunity and all the people that I’m working with: Travolta and Jackson and Cuba Gooding. I can’t believe it. It’s an amazing blessing. But this one because it has a 90% Latino cast and I was able to talk in Spanish. (Laughing) But it’s really, really special and we all feel like we’re pioneers. It’s the first time a studio is financing a Latino project and committing to us. I wanted to be part of it because of that. Even though my first language is Spanish and I grew up in Puerto Rico. And people see me as the girl from Rush Hour 2 but they don’t have a name with the face. Even Latinos in Venezuela and Colombia may know my face but they say, “Oh, that’s the girl from Rush Hour 2.” Hopefully this movie will help Eduardo Verastegui and the girls {her co-stars} break into Hollywood and have Latinos see that I am Puerto Rico and that I do have an accent.

GP: Sounds like you enjoyed working on this film….

RS: So to be able to do a movie with a Latino cast. I mean, some of the roles are a little stereotypical. But at least we’re not playing the maid or the drug dealer. We’re playing beautiful, educated women that wear Versace (laughing). Because there are so many of those types in Mexico City.

GP: In your bio, it notes that you are a professionally trained dancer. How difficult was it to play a stiff Latino lawyer who couldn’t dance?

RS: Oooooh, I hated it! It was hard for me to dance off beat and like I couldn’t salsa. Then, and I’ll never forget this, an extra came up to me between takes and said, “I notice that you are having a few problems. Salsa is easy. You just step backwards once and forwards once.” I looked around and was like “Will somebody please get her out of my face?” I mean, after that, between takes I was purposely dancing to show off my skills.

GP: You are Puerto Rican. Tell me about some of your favorite things you love about the island.

RS: I love my mom’s cooking immensely. I come from a big family. My entire family is in Puerto Rico so every time I go I need to get my fix. The restaurants are great. The beaches are amazing. I love my island. I love my island! I do!!

GP: How was it working with Forest Whitaker (the producer of the film)?

RS: Forest was great. He was really hands on and a guiding hand throughout the process. I mean most producers show up on the first day of shooting and then the last. Forest showed up everyday. It got to the point where the cast was going—Is he here again?

GP: Thank you for sitting down and talking with me.

RS: It was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you!