Christian Serratos, who plays Rosita Espinosa on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about revealing parts of Rosita’s backstory and why her character will stop at nothing to take out Negan.
Q: Was it Abraham’s death specifically that awoke a new fighting mindset within Rosita?
A: I think it’s always been a part of who Rosita is. She’s a fighter. Nobody’s living in a regular world at this point, so you’re seeing a lot of the things that all of the characters have been through. She lost someone who she was very close with, learned a lot from and was in love with. Losing somebody in that way perpetuated her angst and it got more intense. The reason we love all these characters is because we can feel what a family it is. I think losing any one of her family members would have set her on this trajectory, but I think especially because it was Abraham, it really destroyed her.
Q: Rosita often goes out alone to do what needs to be done, like scavenging for guns. Is that an act of bravery or foolishness?
A: I think it’s both. It’s incredibly brave for her to want to be the one to avenge her family members, but there is reason to be worried about her behavior and if she’s going too far. Her goal, in this kind of world, is an admirable one – and not specifically because she wants to kill Negan for vengeance – but above all, people need to remember that she’s motivated to act this way and do what she feels needs to be done because she doesn’t want to lose any more of her loved ones. Essentially, she’s trying to save all of their lives and if she needs to be the one who dies so that nobody else has to, then that’s what she’s willing to do. Of course, there is some foolishness because she’s acting on emotion right now. What’s interesting is we’ve seen all the characters do that on the show. You’ve seen Rick act this way, you’ve seen Michonne act this way, Sasha and Daryl act this way… they go through it at different times and they’re set off by different things, but that’s because they’re human. It’s not pretty, but that’s what happens when you go through trauma.
Q: There’s been a lot of tension between Rosita and Sasha. What’s it been like working with Sonequa to create such a complex relationship?
A: Amazing. Sonequa and I definitely have a kinship and I love working with her, but this season especially, we’ve gotten some interesting scenes together. A lot of our scenes are intense and emotional, so it’s great when the person you trust to that extent is the person you need to trust because those are the most challenging scenes. It started in Episode  when Sasha had to ask Rosita to take Abraham’s body. That was so small, yet so big because she was asking for so much besides just physically taking him but also forgiveness and acceptance. Grief has many different layers and we’ve really seen how everyone responds to grief. There’s so much emotion between these two characters. Of course, being in love with the same man always brings an issue. [Laughs] It’s a very complex and interesting dynamic to watch.
Q: Do you think their unresolved issues pose a threat to their mission?
A: I think we’ve seen that they can reconcile and that they can work together. Their purpose in life is to survive, so I don’t think they’re going to allow any disagreements to come between both of their desires to survive. It could always help or hinder them, but survival is most important and I think they’re both wise and understand that. They make peace with each other. Sasha went into this knowing it was a suicide mission, so for her to lock Rosita out was essentially saving her life. Rosita was prepared to die and go in there and kill Negan. Sasha even tells her that it’s not her time.
Q: When Sasha locked Rosita outside the Sanctuary fence, did she take something important from Rosita?
A: I think it was an act of bravery and came from love. She’s trying to protect her, which leads Rosita to feel guilty for the time wasted. I think, deep down, she’s always known that Sasha is a family member, but it’s hard to experience being dumped by somebody and then know that you have to co-exist with this woman. That’s not something anybody would deal with in regular life… I’ve heard fans say, “Get over it,” but this… is all so very fresh. She’s surrounded by it constantly.
Q: Were you aware of the backstory about where Rosita picked up her handy skills or did you learn something new about her?
A: I was aware of her backstory before I started filming and I think it added to Rosita’s mystery… I love that she’s always been a little more quiet and serious. We’ve really only seen her speak when it’s imperative, which I think is a trait that everyone can benefit from. [Laughs] I loved that, finally, I was getting to share something I had known about her. I was excited about it, but I was also nervous because I had been asked by fans of the show when we were going to see her backstory, so I knew that it was something that I wanted to execute well and I wanted to give it everything I could. I’m really excited for people to finally hear it.
Q: What was it like to finally shed a little bit of her tough exterior?
A: Just like everyone else, she has scars. I love that she’s never fully stripped down. She still always has that guard up and she’s still that tough, sassy individual. I bet she was that way before the apocalypse. I just think that it might have intensified after the apocalypse, but I think that’s innately who she is. She’s had a wall up, but we’ve seen her let it down for the people she’s closest to – and that includes Sasha.
Q: What was your reaction to Eugene not wanting to be rescued and proudly claiming he’s a part of Negan’s army now?
A: It’s such a good storyline. I’m excited to see where this goes, if this is all a ploy to stay alive – which is something we know he’s really good at – or if this is actually him choosing a different side… I love those scenes that make you start questioning. I still want to know!
Read an interview with Melissa McBride, who plays Carol.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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