Heather Hemmens was a delight with whom to chat about Roswell, New Mexico. The actress plays Liz (Jeanine Mason)’s best friend Maria DeLuca, who it sounds like we are going to be discovering a number of surprising and shocking secrets about in the next few episodes. One secret that we weren’t expecting was how much of a curiosity that Hemmens would have about not only aliens, but about mindfulness and the unexplained in general.
There are definitely many mysteries looking to be uncovered but one puzzle that was solved is that we immensely enjoyed hearing about the series from Hemmens and look to hear more from her in the future.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our discussion with the intriguing Heather Hemmens of Roswell, New Mexico.
Brief Take: We chatted with your co-star Jeanine Mason from the set of Roswell, New Mexico a month ago, so it’s great that we get to talk to you now.
Heather Hemmens: I heard about that. She really sets an example, so I’m glad that you got to talk to her. How fun!
BT: Did you know that you put your town on the map? The Wikipedia entry for Waldo, Maine is “hometown of Heather Hemmens”.
HH: Is it? Well maybe they’ll name a street after me. One of the two roads that goes through the town, maybe one of them can be mine.
BT: How does your upbringing in Waldo, Maine relate to being a resident of Roswell?
HH: Well they’re both really rural areas and the thing that I like about filming and working outside of L.A. is the wonderful people. They’re just so welcoming, and Santa Fe is a beautiful town, there’s lots to do in a very nature-based town, which I think is portrayed beautifully in our show. As a backdrop to the show it’s amazing, and then just to work there as well, the reception there was great and you can have a life there. The pace of work can be a little bit crazy, but it’s a great place after work that you can hike and have a quiet dinner and go to this beautiful Japanese spa up in the mountains and relax, so it was the perfect combination for our schedule.
BT: What do you think happened in Roswell, New Mexico? Are you a skeptic or a believer?
HH: [Laughs] I’ve always been a believer, even before this show. I have been way too into aliens, it’s kind of embarrassing to tell you the long list of programs that I watched, from Ancient Aliens to late nights listening to George Noory. I’ve been in contact with the owner of the U.F.O. Centre outside of Vegas, so I am a believer–really into it. And was really excited to be a part of a show about aliens, it’s a little too perfect.
BT: Does your martial arts and weapons training carry into your role in Roswell, New Mexico?
HH: A long time ago, before I had gotten into yoga or mediation, the discipline of martial arts really grounded me and taught me restraint in certain areas of my life, and refinement that I really needed. And that catapulted me into my mediation and into my yoga, which I use in my everyday life now. I’m not practicing martial arts as much any more, but the weapons training was incredible. I got a black belt in Kukkiwon, which is a Korean martial art similar to Taekwondo, but more weapons-based. That’s something I’ve always carried with me. On this show, I haven’t gotten to use those particular skill sets [pauses] as of yet. There could be a possible fight scene with Maria, we can’t rule that out, she’s pretty feisty! But as of yet, I haven’t been able to use that.
BT: Do you feel that your yoga, meditation and mindfulness background seeps through into the series as well?
HH: Yes, especially for my character Maria, she is someone that is more than spiritual. It goes to another level for her of mindfulness and reaching into the depths of the abyss. She is definitely someone who is able to act on the other side of our mentality that a lot of people can’t get to even through meditation, so it’s a special gift that she has, how deep it goes. You’ll have to watch and see, but it’s very, very interesting. I love exploring the part of Maria’s spirituality. It comes off at first as very fun, and almost like a hobby, and then as the series goes on we quickly realize that she’s on a whole other level. She goes beyond psychic. She goes beyond intuitive and you see that this is actually her true gift and one of her secrets that she’s yet to discover even for herself.
BT: I read that you really connected with the music on the show.
HH: Oh this show is totally nostalgic for all of us really. We’re all sort of in the same age range on the show and this is our childhood, the 90’s songs that we throw back to bring such great memories and we hope that it does for the audience as well because we had a lot of fun with the music on this show. I personally come from a musical family, both of my brothers are musicians. I, myself, used to have a band on Bourbon Street in New Orleans right after high school, I moved there [laughs] for a year and a half. Music, for me, is the root of all creativity, whether I’m painting, or prepping a scene for the show, I make candles. I have a lot of creative outlets and they all stem from the influence of music and that influences my emotions a lot.
BT: I really enjoyed your performance on Hellcats! What’s it like to return to The CW with this show?
HH: Well thank you for watching Hellcats! That is a show that is near and dear to me. It was my first series regular on a show and it makes me smile just thinking about it, and also being back with The CW is so heartwarming to me. I have had such a great reception since I’ve been involved with Roswell right from the very beginning. When we started talking about me playing Maria, they were so open and welcoming and happy to have me back. The feeling is mutual. The CW is home; everybody is warm and fun and they know their brand, and we always have such a good time, so that’s really fun.
BT: Will you be live tweeting each episode and following along with the fans?
HH: I am definitely someone who likes to hear what the fans are saying. I think everyone’s opinion is a valid opinion, and I’m someone who is very open-minded. So I’m going to be tweeting, I”m going to be laughing, I think that you can’t take things too seriously and I hope that everyone just has a lot of fun with this show because that’s something that I plan to do.
BT: What do you take with you from the filming experience?
HH: I think the serenity of the New Mexico landscape is something that brought me to a different level of peace. It just has a different pace than L.A. and it was important for me to let go of the frantic lifestyle we live here and just get into a more natural pace for the characters, because the characters on the show, they live in a small town. Things are heightened because it’s a small community, so something that happens to you or your neighbour is of the utmost importance to the community, and you can forget that sometimes, even being from a small town like I am. You’re in these big cities and you kind of disappear into it. And so being in and Mexico for me was really important to film the show there because that’s what these characters’ lives are really like, and it’s great to mirror that in my own life while we were filming.
BT: How much does your experience directing inform your acting journey?
HH: It helps you see the bigger picture. That’s why I’ve always been interested in directing. I have a very creative imagination and to have that output in something is fulfilling. With acting, it can be a little myopic. It’s totally all-encompassing and it’s very, very fun, but it’s also fun to do something a little different and step back and see the bigger picture. That’s something which I hope to be able to do more of. I have been shadowing a lot on this show and going behind the scenes with a lot of directors and into the editing room and on location, and really getting the fundamentals of it. That is something that I am keeping in my back pocket, and when the opportunity is right, I really hope that it presents itself to me.
BT: Who have been some of your role models and people that you look up to?
HH: I first really opened my eyes to directing when I was working on Hellcats. We had Debbie Allen come in and she directed two episodes throughout our season. And that was the first time that I saw someone like me who has a similar past and had put herself in a place of longevity. Not only was she brilliant and one of the best directors that we had on the series, but it was somebody that I could tangibly look at what she had done and go “wow, I could do that”. So Debbie Allen is huge for me, and she’s just such a wonderful person. I’m always learning from every person I meet. We had Shiri Appleby come in and direct on Roswell. She directed episode 9, and not only did she know the voice of our show and exactly what we were going for, but she was then able to elevate us to a place that I think is really special and right on brand with what we’re doing on the show. She’s someone that fit right into the family, of course, she’s original family. And she inspired me as well, as she’s an actress and a director and a mother, and her command of the set and compassion when working with the actors is something which I learned a lot from.
BT: What do you think is your responsibility as a person of influence and a public figure?
HH: I think leaning into the fact that we’re all outsiders and that we’re all looking for the same thing is really important, and you see that a lot on this show, that it’s a love story, above all, and it has a backdrop of aliens and cowboys, but it’s love. Whether you’re from a different town, or a different country, we’re all seeking the same thing, and I think it’s about having compassion for one another, knowing that we’re all on the same journey.
BT: Do you think that now, more than ever, we desire to know the truth at the heart of things?
HH: I think that whatever truth you are looking for, whether it is through religion or spirituality, or aliens and extraterrestrial life, I think that the question that we are seeking is the same, which is ‘what does it have to do with us? Where are we from and how does it relate to us?’. I think that it’s another way to look for an answer to that question. For me, it is the most fun way to look for the answer to that question. I am always surprised at the connections you find, whether you are looking at Roswell, New Mexico or The Pyramids, all these locations around the Earth that have unexplained references to each other, that’s something which I have always been reading about and delving into deeper. Roswell has so many secrets. Maybe one day we’ll get special access and get to uncover some of that during the show. [laughs]