Dania Ramirez on how she prepared to play a missing persons detective: ‘Wanted to honor them in the right way’
Dania Ramirez is giving insight into how she got into the mindset of a detective working in the missing persons unit.
The actress currently stars on “Alert: Missing Persons Unit,” as Nikki Batista, the head of the missing persons unit in the Philadelphia Police Department, alongside Scott Caan. Caan portrays her ex-husband Jason, and the two reunite after they receive a proof-of-life photo of their son, who has been missing for seven years.
During a recent interview with Fox News Digital, Ramirez explained how lucky she felt to have someone “come in and train us” in order to learn how to realistically portray a detective.
“One of the aspects of the show that’s very tactical,” she explained. “How do you walk in and, like, hold the gun when you’re a detective? They are the real heroes out there, the police officers that are working really hard to find missing people and that are working really hard to serve and protect, and I really wanted to honor them in the right way.”
In addition to the trainer that came in, the actress said working with Caan was also a bonus, because he “had been on ‘Hawaii Five-0’ for 10 seasons,” and had more experience playing a detective than Ramirez. She explained they both “really wanted to make sure that [they] were honest in [their] portrayal.”
SCOTT CAAN, DANIA RAMIREZ ON DIFFICULTIES OF STARRING IN MISSINGS-PERSONS DRAMA AS REAL-LIFE PARENTS
“I love working with Scott because of that. He’s really passionate about what he does,” Ramirez explained. “We come in, and we have to break down the door and clear a room, and he was always like, ‘Okay, this is not real, that we can do it this way,’ and I love that about him because he really made us feel responsible for wanting to stay pretty on point and real about the things that we do.”
The actress will be the first to admit the two have great chemistry on-screen, but she attributes that to the great relationship they have off-screen, saying they’ve “really gotten to know each other” through making the show and were able to support each other through difficult times.
“It’s really long hours. It’s intense. Our emotions are always — we’re carrying them on our sleeves,” she explained. “It’s very personal… His wife was giving birth to a brand-new baby, and so he was dealing with so many real personal things. His father had passed away recently and there were a lot of vulnerable moments that we really got a chance to be there for one another.
“I think because we decided to really be there as people for one another, that really translated to the screen and how we wanted to really be there for one another as Nikki and Jason.”
Ramirez also got to work with Jamie Foxx, as he is an executive producer on the show. She commended Foxx for the level of support he showed the cast of “Alert,” calling him “an incredible and creative” talent.
“He’s passionate about everything that he does, and he’s shown us all a lot of support as the cast, so it’s great. I mean, it’s awesome when you get a message from Jamie Foxx, like, ‘Hey, you’re amazing on the show,’ and this is somebody that I’ve watched and looked up to, and I think he’s really talented,” Ramirez explained. “To be recognized by your peers in that way, it’s really an amazing feeling. I’m really grateful.”
Each episode of “Alert” follows the story of a different family whose loved one has gone missing, and was inspired by Foxx’s real-life experience when he thought his own child had gone missing.
Ramirez praised Foxx, saying she feels really “grateful” that he “tapped into” his personal experience and was willing to share it in such a public format.
Both Ramirez and Caan are also parents in real-life, and the actress used her experience as a mother to understand what inspires her character’s “motivation to find these missing people on the show.”
“What it did for me was really allowed me to bring a lot of that nurturing motherly side to this character,” she explained. “When I’m having these conversations with people that are missing, that are coming in each episode for a different case, it allows me to look at them with nurturing eyes, and I was able to dive into that emotion and that raw emotional journey that they could have been through.”
Along with helping her in her performance, Ramirez explained how portraying a character whose son is missing changed her perspective on her own life, saying, “This makes me want to protect my children a little more.”
“I don’t want to become super overly protective, but it definitely brings a lot of these things to the foreground for me,” she explained.
The actress also acknowledged how important it was for her to “shut it off when the end of the day came” because she had to go home and be a mom to her own kids, saying, “They want me to be happy when I come home. They don’t want me to be carrying this pain and dread.”
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Ramirez, who has been in Montreal filming “Alert,” said her future plans involve taking a break to spend more time with her children.
“We have been working really hard, and my children have been — and my husband, oh, my God — have been so solid in the support that they have shown me,” Ramirez said. “They moved up to Montreal, and sometimes I’d come home like, midnight, and just be able to see them like a little bit in the morning… They showed me so much love and support and commitment that I feel like right now I need to go home and show them the same.”
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“Alert” airs Monday nights on FOX.
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