DA MAN: There’s a lot of talk about the character you play, Ofelia Salazar. But what’s your personal take on her?
Mercedes Mason: Ofelia Salazar is a young woman at the precipice of change. She’s been sheltered by her parents for most of her life. When we first meet her, she’s under the impression that she is, in fact, protecting her parents from all the misguided follies of being in a foreign country. As she begins to discover more about her parents and what they left behind in El Salvador, she’s forced to see them in a different light, thereby causing her to question who she is. This serves as a catalyst for her growth, as though the proverbial veil has been cast off her eyes.
DA MAN: Do you think that you connect to your character on a more personal level? Especially seeing how you grew up in a multi-national family.
Mercedes Mason: i absolutely connect with Ofelia. I, too, moved to the United States as a foreigner with parents who were in the dark about all things American. It forces you to connect with your family in a way that only immigrants really understand. initially, there’s a pull between the life one shares at home and the one experienced at school. There’s an urgency to protect your parents, your traditions and your home life while desperately wanting to connect to this new world that’s been thrust upon you. I experienced all those things when i moved to the States. The difference between Ofelia and I is that i know exactly who my parents are so that my safety net is intact. Ofelia’s safety net has been torn apart. The other difference is that I, luckily, don’t have to battle reanimated dead people. So there’s that. [Laughs]
DA MAN: Speaking of families, that’s quite a major theme of the series, right? About how a family tries to deal with tragedy together?
Mercedes Mason: Family is absolutely a major theme in “Fear the Walking Dead.” The question our creator, Dave Erickson, wanted to explore is what “family” actually means. Is family something you’re born into? Something you choose? Something that determines your loyalties? When faced with death, human nature tends to lean toward personal survival … Unless the concept of family is introduced. It’s a fascinating psychological study. Only for family are we willing to risk ourselves. These questions give rise to a lot of underlying themes of our show.
DA MAN: Are fans of the series missing out on anything if they don’t also watch “Fear the Walking Dead”?
Mercedes Mason: I can’t speak for everyone, but as a fan myself, I know I had a lot of questions about what was happening around other parts of the country. I wanted to know what ground zero of the infection was like. So, watching our show will give insight into those queries.
DA MAN: Now, if we’re not mistaken, the timelines of “Fear the Walking Dead” and the main “The Walking Dead” series will eventually overlap. So, the big question is: will you make your way to “The Walking Dead”?
Mercedes Mason: I haven’t been told anything about the two shows overlapping, but who knows what the future holds. If that happens, I hope Ofelia meets Daryl Dixon. That’s all i’ll say about that. [Blushes]
DA MAN: On a related note, are there any other movie or TV shows you’re currently involved with?
Mercedes Mason: I play a recurring character on “NCIS: Los Angeles” called Talia Del Campo. She always causes trouble and has lots of fun doing so. They’re really sweet to me on that show … Always writing more episodes for me when I’m able to shoot them, scheduling-wise.
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