Fantasy Island starring Roselyn Sánchez is the kind of show that sneaks up on you with how magical it truly is.
From the show title alone, you think you know what you’re in for. You think it’s all about fun in the sun, beautiful people, and making your wildest fantasies come true. The fantasy part is a key element of the show. And yes there is plenty of time in the sun and beautiful people. But Fantasy Island is a show about transformation, hope, and coming full circle to a truth you didn’t even know you needed.
At the heart of Fantasy Island is Elena Roarke, who is played by Roselyn Sánchez. She stars as the grandniece of Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), the mysterious man who ran a rather unique resort island that helped guests fulfill their fantasies in the classic show from the 70s. In the 2021 version, which is just entering its second season, Elena continues that mission. She helps out those in need, changes lives, and slowly but surely is allowing the island to help heal her too.
Remezcla got a chance to interview Roselyn Sánchez on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, which both she and this writer call home, about Fantasy Island. Because yes, all the wild and crazy stories that this show is going to work through episode per episode are going to be important in connecting with viewers. But what we’ll be focusing on is how this dynamic woman sees herself setting forward on her own path of love, family, and moving forward.
In season 2 of Fantasy Island, Elena is “going to open herself up for the possibility of love.” Previously, the show hinted at Elena’s past and the fiance that her heart still ached for. At the same time, there was a continued spark with Javier (John Gabriel Rodriguez) who brought the guests to the island. “She picked to continue the legacy of hosting the island. So she basically…her life stopped. It became about her job. And now after 10 years, she decides, “Maybe I should give myself an opportunity.” And Javier could be part of that.
Love isn’t the only thing that Elena is going to let herself experience in season 2 of Fantasy Island. She’s going to let the magic of the island guide her as she experiences the “good stuff, bad stuff, a little bit of everything.” And it’s going to be a “great learning experience this entire season for Elena” in the “same way that all the guests come and learn something.” The only difference is that this island is her home and the lessons she learns will be what guide the show forward.
Another relationship that is essential to who Elena is, is her bond with Ruby, played by Kiara Barnes. Because yes, Elena’s romance with Javier makes viewers swoon. But it’s relationships like Elena and Ruby’s that also reflect the deep and emotional bonds we have with our friends and found family. For Roselyn, “I’m so proud of what the writers have done with these two characters. They’re two females, two female leads. You know, women of color.”
More often than not, it feels like TV goes the way of checking a box when it comes to women of color. As if there weren’t room for two, three, four, or more of us on one show or movie. Fantasy Island has two women of color leading the charge. “It could’ve been so easy to go the route of antagonistic” when it comes to Elena and Ruby. Instead, the writers took the time to write a “beautiful magical relationship” that is fun, grounded, and where they learn from each other with every episode that passes.
Filming Fantasy Island in Puerto Rico also feels exactly like where Roselyn Sánchez thought she’d end up at when she left the island to pursue an acting career. Back then, she “had a pretty clear vision” of what she wanted. That doesn’t mean that she’s accomplished all her hopes and dreams. But it does mean that she’s aware that everything she’s done, including the “crazy long [journey] full of tears but full of victory type of journey,” has led her to this point.
At the end of the day, when she thinks about the catalog of work that she’s done across her career and that has led her to Fantasy Island, from Rush Hour 2 to Grand Hotel, “I can look back and retire in peace.” And it’s not just her professional career that Sánchez is proud of. It’s also about “the fact that I make a living doing what I love. And now I have two beautiful, healthy, and incredible kids and an amazing solid relationship. I’m good.”
Altogether, Roselyn Sánchez is a dreamer who made her own fantasy into a reality. She put in the hard work, she learned all the lines, she showed up, and she pushed for the opportunities that came her way to end up doing what she loves. And now, she works on Fantasy Island, a show about making others’ fantasies come true while teaching them life lessons to get them where they truly need to be. In a way, it feels like this Latina has come full circle. And she’s working on paying it forward doing what she loves.
Fantasy Island airs Mondays on Fox.