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Jessica Meraz talks Natalie Ortiz's return to 'Chasing Life'

For a while on Chasing Life, Natalie was nothing more than a name on a Post-it, secretly tucked away in April’s desk after a chance encounter the two unknowing half-sisters had at Thomas Carver’s grave. Once Brenna found out there was a Natalie, she sought her out, and we got a glimpse at the other sister.

That wasn’t the end of Natalie, though. She’ll be back soon—and actress Jessica Meraz, who plays the hard-to-love character, says Natalie is “going to spice things up a little bit.” We chatted with Meraz to get all the deets on Chasing Life’s bad girl.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: Will we see a softer side to Natalie?

JESSICA MERAZ: Definitely. You will see a softer side and an even harder side.

In what capacity will we see more of Natalie?

There’s the potential need for her bone marrow, so just having contact with Natalie again is going to open up a lot of emotions and a lot of secrets and problems for both families that Thomas had. Natalie will come back, and you’ll get to see her as a more dimensional person. She will stir up a lot of trouble, but she will also provide some nice elements.

What’s it like to play that daughter who was the result of an affair and gets introduced to this picture-perfect family?

She’s super-fun. She’s so colorful and feisty and was really dealt a difficult hand of cards. She’s doing the best she can with what she was given. She’s just exciting, and lots of different parts about her are really sexy.

Jessica Meraz_D_258

Isaac Sterling


Which sister would Natalie get along with more?

I think Brenna. Probably Brenna. She has a little bit more of an age gap, and April being so straight-edge … Brenna could have a little bit of a wild side to her too, so she might not be quite as judgmental. April is straight-edge, and Natalie definitely does not live life by the rules.

Are we going to get to see her family? Will we meet Natalie’s mom?

Yes, you will. I don’t know if I was allowed to say that, but you will. She was played actually by someone from my hometown, which is awesome. She was a huge celebrity from my hometown. That was really exciting, and I was super star-struck when she was going to get to play my mom. I didn’t even find out that she was going to play my mom until the morning of, so when I saw the call sheet, I was like, Oh my God, she’s from my hometown! I was freaking out, I was so excited.

Besides Natalie, who’s your favorite character on the show?

I think that Danny Gupta is really funny. April’s coworker—I think he’s hilarious. And I’m also completely obsessed with Rob Kerkovich’s character; he plays Graham, Dominic’s roommate. Anything he says, he just walks into a room and I just start laughing. Clearly I like comedy.

How is it to live-tweet during episodes? Any weird fan interactions?

It was really fun. The most surprising part was that probably half the questions that we got had to do with food. They were all what our favorite dessert was, our favorite candy, our favorite type of food. So that was just … I was not expecting that. All having to do with food.

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Isaac Sterling


Who you think in terms of Team Leo or Team Dominic?

I want April to be with … I’m going to go with Leo. I think they could relate on a really deep level that she might never be able to have with Dominic.

Do you think Natalie would ever have a connection with either of these two guys?

I think Natalie does not discriminate. Natalie loves men. I think she could totally find something for each of them to offer.

Will fans change their opinion on Natalie?

The cool ones will. Natalie’s cool! I don’t know what people expect from her. Natalie is strong and she stands up for herself and she’s not going to take crap from anybody. She doesn’t care if you don’t like her. I think a lot of fans will respect her. And she’s fun and funny and feisty. They’ll see that underneath it all, she’s doing the best that she can. She has a nice heart … way down in there.

Any exciting moments filming the show?

One time I was suppose to pour a beer on a guy’s head, and the guy had so much hair gel on his head that when I poured it on his head, like a slide, it went right off his head and poured onto me. I had to go back into hair and makeup and redo the whole thing.

What other projects are you working on that you’d like to share with us?

I just did an episode of Drunk History. It’s this crazy show on Comedy Central where they have narrators that get drunk and tell a story in history, and then they get big actors to reenact it, using the voice of the narrator. So just a couple weeks ago, I was a drunk narrator. So I met with the creator and I actually drank champagne and told a story. It’s airing next summer, once they do all the reenactments and everything. It’s one of my favorite shows, so I was so excited to do it. It was a blast; I would do it again tomorrow. I had to recover for like 36 hours afterward.

Chasing Life returns on Monday, Jan. 19, at 9/8C on ABC Family.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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