Roselyn Sánchez on ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’s Historic Countdown in Puerto Rico

Roselyn Sánchez
Maarten de Boer

Diez, Nueve, Ocho… as ABC prepares to ring in 2022 for the 50th anniversary of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, there will be one special, historic segment for viewers to keep an eye out for.

While Ryan Seacrest and Liza Koshy host from Times Square in New York City and Billy Porter grabs the mic in New Orleans, as well as Ciara in Los Angeles, for the very first time ever, Roselyn Sánchez (Fantasy Island) will be counting down in Spanish from her home city, San Juan, Puerto Rico, with PR musician Daddy Yankee. The segment, which airs at 11/10c, will be the first-ever globally televised Spanish language countdown, an important cultural milestone, shared as Rockin’ Eve celebrates its own landmark airing. Cue the confetti!

Below, Sánchez talks about the important moment-to-be and teases Season 2 of her Fox reboot.

This is just such a powerful experience. How excited were you when the opportunity arose?

Roselyn Sánchez: So happy, and so honored. When I announced on my social media that I was doing this and that I was going to be a part of this huge event, celebrating the 50 years, everybody was so supportive and everybody was like, “wow this is so huge — congrats!” And I realized, you know what? Yeah, this is pretty huge. What a beautiful opportunity to go back home, where I was born and raised, and to say welcome to 2022 with my family, and for people to experience and have all these eyeballs on Puerto Rico, which is such a beautiful place full of music and culture. We need it. We need an opportunity like this.

It’s the first-ever, globally-televised, Spanish language countdown, so it’s also historic. What does that mean to you as someone who grew up in Puerto Rico?

It’s about time. And listen, it’s huge, and everything happens for a reason, and the moment is now. But I’m glad. I’m glad that it’s happening, and that they recognize the value of doing this in Spanish. We’re a huge demographic. There’s a lot of Spanish-speaking people in the world, and we appreciate it — that we feel included, that we feel that we matter and that we’re not only able to do it in Spanish but to go to an actual island in the Caribbean to do it. It’s huge.

Do you normally watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve? Is that a tradition for you?

Every year. Every single year. Even growing up in Puerto Rico, every single year. You watch the Times Square ball drop with your family. And then when I moved to the States, that’s why I always watch, even with my two children now. And it’s so incredible to me that I get to do it now, and back in Puerto Rico. It’s like a movie.

Now your countdown is also the first airing, at 11/10c. Does that make you nervous?

It makes me nervous, but it’s awesome. It’s good butterflies. I need to get this right and make this as big, as stunning as possible, and full of positive vibes because people deserve to welcome 2022 with hope and love and laugher. We have Daddy Yankee performing. We’re celebrating 500 years of Old San Juan, which is a stunning city. Fifty years of the dropping of the ball, and I get to be the first person to go, “Diez, Nueve, Ocho, Siete, Seis…” I think it’s going to be fantastic, and then I’m going to pass it right on over to Ryan.

How has it been working with Daddy Yankee during this prep period?

I’ve known Daddy for so many years. I love Daddy. We all love Daddy. He’s such an important figure for the Puerto Rican community. I always have a laugh with Daddy Yankee. I just can’t wait to hug him and say, “Can you believe we’re doing this?” It’s awesome for the island and it’s awesome for the culture.

You and your husband, Eric Winter, are quite a power couple, between your podcast, publishing children’s books together and so much more. Is he going to be present during the countdown?

Yeah, he’s coming with me. It’s the first time that we’re traveling together with no kids since they were born. For 10 years, we haven’t done any getaway where it’s just the two of us. Granted, it’s for work, so he’s going to be living life while I am rehearsing! [Laughs] But it’s okay.

Can you speak to any of the COVID precautions that’ll be in place for this event? I know it’s gotten a lot smaller.

All the precautions. For the governor of Puerto Rico, it is so important, the key to population. This was originally 10,000 people live. It would have been so lovely to have Daddy singing in front of 10,000 people and for me to be enjoying the moment of this countdown with thousands of people doing it with me, but you know what? It is what it is. It’s COVID times. So, the whole production had to adjust, in every city — New York, Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. The priority is to keep everyone healthy. We don’t want this to be the event that got people sick. So, we want to do this as safely as possible, but the energy has to be larger than life.

That’s awesome. Do you feel like this countdown is just another big step in terms of Latin representation in media and television?

Oh my god, yeah. Think about it, it’s the first time that they do this in Spanish, and I guess they recognize the power of the Latinx demographic. It’s a huge community. It was only a matter of time.

And listen, we want this tradition to continue, and hopefully, it’s going to be in Puerto Rico for many, many years to come, and becomes a big deal, that people want to receive the New Year in Puerto Rico, in person or virtually, or they want to watch on TV, that they take a little bit of our culture and learn a little bit about who we are as a country. Because we’re pretty awesome.

Roslyn Sanchez as Elena, Kiara Barnes as Ruby in Fantasy Island

Laura Magruder/FOX

Now, I also want to talk about Fox’s reboot of Fantasy Island. The show has been embraced so wholeheartedly this year. It’s been renewed for Season 2, you aired a two-hour holiday episode that fans freaked out over. Are you surprised at all by how quickly the show has been embraced by all these fans?

It is such a beloved IP, and everybody knows about Fantasy Island and everybody remembers, “The plane! The plane!” It’s such an iconic role. So, there was a side of me that was like, “this is just going to be incredible. It’s about time that they do a reboot of this show.” But at the same time, I hoped it was going to go well because sometimes when something is so beloved, people resist. They don’t want to bring something back when it was done so well. And the fact that they decided to go female with the two main leads. It was a big leap of faith. They took a lot of creative licenses to try and make it more current and make it more 2021, 2022. The audience has changed. The tastes have changed. The world has changed. But it was beautiful. All the actors, all the crew, everybody involved, we are so grateful and so happy that it has been embraced. And the social media feedback is so beautiful.

Can you tease anything that’s on deck for Elena in Season 2, maybe about her possible romance with Javier (John Gabriel Rodriguez)?

Well, they made John a series regular! They clearly have big plans for Javier, and John, the actor, who is so wonderful. He’s a handsome man. So I’m hoping they have us do some juicy stuff, as well as build on a relationship with Ruby [Kiara Barnes], which is such a fascinating dynamic. They’re two very different women with a common goal. I want that relationship to be explored as well.

I know they want comedy. They want the show to be uplifting and funny, and people gravitated towards the episodes that had a lot of humor, and I love that, because it’s humor, but with heart. It makes you think. It makes you cry. It’s the perfect feel-good TV that we need nowadays. We need a Fantasy Island in our lives.

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2022, Friday, December 31, 8/7c, ABC