“Chasing Life” Season 2 has already been pretty dramatic for Jessica Meraz. Her character, Natalie Ortiz, has broken up with her half-sister’s ex-boyfriend and found her dead father’s unfinished manuscript, and she is only five episodes into the season. Natalie has managed to keep the sisterly fighting to a minimum this year, but even as April (Italia Ricci) and Natalie develop their friendship on the ABC Family drama, they’ll find conflict somewhere. Meraz spoke to International Business Times about Natalie’s surprisingly calm relationship with April and teased why “Chasing Life” fans shouldn’t count on Natalie staying out of the drama forever.
International Business Times: How did you get the part on “Chasing Life”? I heard you auditioned for a different part originally.
Jessica Meraz: Yeah, I did. I actually tested for the part of Beth [Aisha Dee], April’s best friend, and didn’t get the part and was devastated. I was super upset about it. Then, just a few weeks later, the producers contacted my manager saying that they had written in a part at the end of the pilot and they gave it to me.
It was awesome. I guess they thought I looked too much like Italia to play her best friend. We had enough girls that looked alike, you know, so it’s something that held me back at the moment and then ended up being a great gift.
IBTimes: Fans saw your character go through a breakup early this season. Do you hope Natalie and Dom (Richard Brancatisano) reconnect or are they better apart?
Meraz: I think that if Natalie can find love with someone that is not in her sister’s past, it would be so much healthier for everybody. There’s enough drama going on between the siblings, and to add in exes? It just gets too complicated. I think it would be better for Natalie to find something that is completely disconnected from her family for her romantic life.
IBTimes: Do you want to see Dom and April together or are you Team April and Leo (Scott Michael Foster)?
Meraz: I’m Team April and Leo. I think they connect on a level that unfortunately – and fortunately – Dominic doesn’t really understand. He’s not having to fight for his life, and I think it’s a really special thing that Leo and April are able to connect on and relate to.
IBTimes: Natalie has been connecting a lot with her family this season. She and Brenna (Haley Ramm) seemed to bond a lot earlier this season. Will we see Natalie spending more quality time with her sisters?
Meraz: Yeah, I think that was something really nice that came in this season, that the girls are finally getting to take their guard down about how they found out about each other. And they will get to get a lot closer, particularly Natalie and Brenna.
IBTimes: Natalie and April seem to be on at least semi-good terms now. Do you think they’ll stay that way?
Meraz: They are on better terms, and I think, even with the hardships that they’ve had to overcome and how different maybe there, not only their upbringings, but just the kind of women they are. After going through certain life moments together and you know, I think that people that maybe even wouldn’t normally be friends, once you kind of are there for each other through life moments, you become family. And I think that’s what happens with April and Natalie this season is they finally become family and so family supersedes any kind of initial bull---- that they were kind of holding against each other. They’re family, so they’re going to be there for each other, and sometimes they may not like each other but they’ll still love each other.
IBTimes: We saw April investigate her father's manuscript that Natalie had brought to her. Is the manuscript going to be brought up more this season? Will Natalie be doing any of her own investigations to answer questions about her dad?
Meraz: The manuscript is definitely coming back and will be the source of a lot of drama. I think that they will do both, investigate together and investigate on their own as well.
IBTimes: I know we saw Natalie at the bachelorette party, but how involved with she be in April's wedding?
Meraz: Yeah, she’s a bridesmaid.
IBTimes: Is there any drama there or does it actually go smoothly?
Meraz: Surprisingly, right now, April and Natalie are good. Everything is kind of — somehow Natalie has been able to put away all the Dominic stuff, just like April has. And becoming a bridesmaid and enjoying the wedding is for the most part, between April and Natalie, pretty chill.
IBTimes: That’s a nice change.
Meraz: It is. It is a nice change for them. That doesn’t mean there won’t be issues between them later, but at the moment there is a – I like to say that Natalie’s lion is just kind of quiet and tame right now. But the lion will be woken up.
IBTimes: I have to ask because there’s been a little bit of speculation about it. Is there going to be a death this season?
Meraz: Oh, I don’t know if I can say that either way. [Pause.] Yeah, I don’t know if I can say that either way. Sorry.
IBTimes: What can you tease about upcoming episodes?
Meraz: I will say that Natalie, you definitely get to see a lot of new dimensions of her this season where she becomes a good friend, a good sister, where she kind of puts her interests to the side for the betterment of the family, for togetherness. There will be an event that happens that changes everything for her and makes her question all of her feelings about everyone.
“Chasing Life” Season 2 airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on ABC Family.