Freeform’s all-new television series, “The Watchful Eye,” follows the main character Elena Santos, a young woman with a complicated past who maneuvers her way into working as a live-in nanny for an affluent family in Manhattan. As season one of “The Watchful Eye” makes its debut this week, I had the chance to sit down with the show’s star, Mariel Molino to talk about the show and her love for Disney Parks.
Q: How do you feel about season 1 of “The Watchful Eye”?
I’m feeling very optimistic. Most of the people who have watched the show really like it and are genuinely excited about it. I feel really grateful to be in this position and I’m really proud of this show!
Q: Take us into your character, what should we know about Elena?
She is a force to be reckoned with. They realize that she is a worthy rival. She’s complicated and has a few secrets of her own.
Q: How does it feel to be a part of a new show?
It feels amazing! I’ve never gotten to be a lead in a tv show so this is a huge step personally and professionally. It’s one that has challenged me a lot and it has solidified this work for me, that I get to do what I love.
Q: Word on the street is that you’re a Disney parks fan.
I am the biggest Disney adult there is!
Q: Where did your love for Disney parks begin?
I remember being young and visiting for the first time with my cousins from Mexico. I remember the sensation at Disneyland that you weren’t in Anaheim, you had stepped into another world. I love escapism and stepping into this fantasy world. I love the specificity of how Walt created the parks. From land to land, everything was hand-picked from every doorknob to the way cast members greet you. To me, that’s art. It makes me think: “Wow, I can do this.”
With my friends, we would make Disneyland a yearly thing. Now I’m an extra fan and I start looking for all the hidden Mickeys.
Q: I’m hearing that this has been a major part of your life since childhood. I love that you found inspiration for being an actress from your time in Disney parks. When you go to Disney parks, do you watch shows too?
Yes! I always watch the fireworks, and “Fantasmic!” is my favorite show because it’s nostalgic for me. I also like “World of Color.”
Q: Is there a Disney character that you haven’t met that you would love to meet?
Yes! I don’t think I’ve ever met Jafar. Jafar has a very special place in my heart. When I was young I would joke and tell my dad: “You’re like Jafar!” But then as I grew up, I gained so much empathy for Jafar so he’s a character I want to meet.
Q: How would Elena spend a day at Disneyland, vs how YOU would spend a day at Disneyland?
I think Elena would try to go backstage and see behind the scenes. She would try to help Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones attraction or see behind the Haunted Mansion, and she would try to get into Club 33. For me, I have a record of how many rides I do in a day and then I have snack stops. I always have to stop in New Orleans square to get my clam chowder in a bread bowl. Add some hot sauce and it’s *chef’s kiss*. I can’t leave without having a chocolate-covered banana and a churro. I have only gone once to Blue Bayou. I need to go back. Then I just want to end my day with teacups, “it’s a small world” and I have to ride Guardians of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout three or four times.
Q: You grew up going to Disneyland. Have you ever been to Walt Disney World?
I have! I was nine so I really want to go again. If I went again, I would spend four days, go to every park, and I would go to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror because they no longer have it at Disney California Adventure and it’s the one ride I miss.
Q: What’s your advice to other young dreamers who may be watching:
Don’t forget about that child in you. Usually, kids are a lot smarter than us because they’re able to kind of disarm themselves and not have to abide by certain judgments of society or other people or fears or doubts. I think if you can remember that child in you, and that gut and intuition, you can follow your dreams as difficult and hard as they may seem. Don’t betray the child in you.
Tune in to watch Mariel as Elena in the all-new series, “The Watchful Eye.” The first two episodes are now streaming on Hulu. Then watch episodes Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform or the next day on Hulu.