Diversity on Roswell

Several people have commented in e-mail, and on the board about the issue of diversity on Roswell, and specifically why Liz Ortecho from the books became Liz Parker on the show. This older article, addressed that question.

From Roswell: space.com’s Guide to the Series

The Cast of Roswell, Outsiders for the Millennium

posted: 04:00 pm EST
05 October 1999

One of the first things a casual television viewer will notice about Roswell, the WB network’s new teen-alien hybrid, is that it takes place on a planet of the young and photogenic.

Like Felicity, Dawson’s Creek or any other WB hour-length drama aimed at the under-30 demographic — even the venerable Buffy — Roswell is stocked with fresh faces, few of whom are likely to be familiar to even the most celebrity-jaded Hollywood insiders. Only a handful of genuinely adult characters get more than a few lines of dialogue, while most of the other featured performers are in their early 20s. A few, notably Venezuela-born Majandra Delfino, who plays the obligatory “best friend and confidant” role here, are barely out of high school themselves.

By adding a hint of Hispanic authenticity, Delfino also serves to anchor the series in the real-world Roswell’s deeply Southwestern (and hence Latin) roots. Both David Nutter and Jason Katims, two of the show’s executive producers, have expressed a desire to make their Roswell reflect New Mexico’s varied ethnic map, with Nutter in particular being very firm about the production’s “responsibility and challenge to examine diversity.”

This diversity extends to the show’s adult characters, with Michael Horse, an actor of mixed Pueblo descent, effectively reprising the sheriff’s right-hand-man role that made him a cult figure in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Although Horse’s role is relatively minor in Roswell so far (he is not mentioned in the show’s official press materials), his dry wit is always a welcome addition to the scenes in which he appears.

However, Nutter and Katims made the difficult choice of transforming the show’s starring role from the Latina “Liz Ortecho” of the original young-adult novels to the WASPier “Liz Parker.”

The decision to change the character’s name and, by implication, downplay her ethnicity was due to newcomer Shiri Appleby’s brilliant audition, Nutter said.

“You cast for parts, you look for the best actor, regardless of where they come from,” he said. “Shiri Appleby came in and she definitely encapsulated everything we wanted to see in that part.”

Squanto

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