The introduction of Shivani Sen and her passion for funding million dollar scientific research was an interesting plot twist on Roswell, New Mexico for the science minded Liz Ortecho who hopes to study alien compounds without discovery. Shivani and Liz team up early for the ultimate research duo, but it’s been no surprise that all is not as it seems for Shivani who has a personal stake in the research she’s funding. We got to chat with actress Rehka Sharma on what it’s been like playing Shivani and the huge cliffhanger for Shivani and Liz. Check it out below!
Nerds and Beyond: Tell me a bit about your introduction to the show and what drew you to Shivani as a character?
Sharma: I didn’t know about the show at all, and when the audition came my way something about this character just jumped out of the page at me. It was very fun, refreshing, exciting. The writing was really cheeky, and I imagine as a fan of the show you know it can be really fun, witty writing, and the character just seemed so interesting. I didn’t even quite understand what the role was because everything is so secret, especially in the sci-fi world. They don’t quite tell you the real truth of what’s going on, but there was enough there that I thought this was a deep, complicated but smart, fun, good-hearted person, was my feeling.
Nerds and Beyond: This latest episode is incredible. You played Shivani’s grief and pain so brilliantly. How did you dig into that emotion for that scene?
Sharma: First of all — thank you that means a lot, I’m glad you were moved. How did I dig in? It’s really just imagining myself going there. I can’t imagine the pain of what that would be like to be losing a child and be estranged from the love of your life because of it. Her whole world has been blown apart and then to be so close to a possibility for a cure and to be with somebody who you get, who gets you, and for them to not understand and not want to go on this journey with you. I think it just absolutely shattered her heart. I think she’s, as anyone in that position would be, blinded by her need. It’s just so immense.
It also helped as an actor to work with someone as fabulous as Jeanine [Mason], and the crew makes a good atmosphere where you feel like everyone is so nice and that makes all the difference, too.
Nerds and Beyond: Yes, how was it to work opposite Jeanine on that scene and others throughout filming?
Sharma: She’s fantastic. It was really fun to work with her. And also as two women of color to lift each other up by the fact that we’re two women out here doing it just was a great experience for me.
Nerds and Beyond: Did you know Shivani’s true motives at the start of the season or was it kept secret until you received this week’s script?
Sharma: No, I did have sort of a rough idea. I didn’t know quite at the beginning because I was very confused and lost if I’m honest. Then the wonderful showrunner Chris Hollier got on the phone with me after I’d done a couple episodes and was like, ‘Ok, let me give you the lay of the land.’ I was like, ‘Ok, great!’ So then I had the general trajectory of what we were going to do and watched the details of that unfold as I read each script.
Nerds and Beyond: Now she’s been brought into the circle of knowing about the aliens early in the episode. Why do you think she kept her daughter a secret from Liz instead of telling her the full details right then and there?
Sharma: I honestly think it’s been a secret for so long that most people don’t understand. She already lost the love of her life in the midst of all this so I think she’s just accustomed to being careful about the topic.
Nerds and Beyond: That makes sense. I also appreciated the show’s statement in this episode about Shivani having all the money in the world and still the one thing she wants she can’t have. That was really powerful.
Sharma: Yeah, thank you for saying that. I do feel that way, too. It’s like all the striving we do as a society for money and all the messaging and value and worth that we place on having money is just so out of wack. It’s not what’s important in life at all, it doesn’t get you what you think it’s going to get you.
Nerds and Beyond: As much as you can tell us, what can we expect for the rest of Shivani’s journey on the show? I know much of that depends on the effects of the mist she inhaled in this week’s episode.
Sharma: The gas is a big player in the journey. We know that she’s desperate, we have a clear picture of why she’s so desperate now. Now that drugs are in the mix things get a lot messier, a lot more dangerous. I think there is a certain blindness that comes with grief and wanting to save somebody, it’s a difficult spot that she’s in. Things are really building up in the season in all aspects of the storytelling not just this storyline. I know there’s so many storylines going on in this show it’s pretty exciting, but it’s just going to get more and more exciting.
Nerds and Beyond: Which is hard to imagine now!
Sharma: Yeah, but it’s gets pretty wild!
Nerds and Beyond: What’s been your favorite scene to film this season? Was it that emotional moment with Liz or something lighter from earlier on?
Sharma: I think definitely the ones we shot in this episode were very exciting. I said earlier today, the heightened emotions and there was so much to juggle in those scenes even just physically with the walking and the mist. It was one of those days where you just go home and sleep really hard after a very satisfying day of work. Then there were also, yeah, a lot of fun scenes early on even when we first met on the rooftop. Checking each other out and there’s been some really emotional scenes too where Liz is crying to Shivani and opening up. It’s funny the more I think about it the more I think there were so many fun scenes. There’s a lot of variety on this show and in these characters’ journeys that’s doesn’t always happen on tv shows, that’s one the things I’ve really enjoyed about working on Roswell is just the variety of experience that the characters go through and different sides you get to see of people. I really like that about the writing, they’re really well-rounded characters.
Nerds and Beyond: We know the show is ending sadly, so if you could give any message to the fans who have loved this show what would you want to tell them?
Sharma: First of all, I’d say thank you for watching and I hoped you loved it. It’s been really special and I think there’s some really valuable stories that we can all carry with us. I know the show’s over but it doesn’t have to be over in our hearts. I think there’s a lot of beautiful lessons that this story gives the world and I hope we all hang on to them.
Nerds and Beyond: If you could have alien powers, what would you pick?
Sharma: I have thought of this before and I don’t know what my answer was before! Thinking now, what kind of alien powers would I pick? Maybe seeing the future so that I could make better choices in the now. Yeah, maybe it’s the boring answer but also flying would just be very fun!
Nerds and Beyond: Finally, we love to end on a lighter note. We celebrate all things nerdy here at Nerds and Beyond, so what’s something you nerd out to?
Sharma: Food, probably. I get excited about trying a lot of different donuts and trying to find the best donuts in town. Right now I’m in Montreal so I’ve been doing my analysis of the bagels. Some bagels are better for toasting and just butter only where other bagels are better for like bagel sandwiches. What else, I’m a bit of a gear nerd a little bit. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m definitely a person who before I buy something somewhat utilitarian whether it’s an A/C unit or a bag for my laptop or something I’ll look up the reviews on Wirecutter and try to find the best one. I highly recommend it, Wirecutter is your friend!
A big thank you to Rehka for talking with us about her journey on the show and we can’t wait to see what next week holds for Shivani, Liz, and the pod squad. Check out all our Roswell content including interviews, recaps, images and more here while you wait for the next episode!