The CW is officially kicking off its fall season this week, with old favorites returning and some new, gorgeous faces joining the squad. One of those new faces is Dynasty, a reboot of the ABC primetime soap opera that aired from 1981 to 1989. The CW iteration pays homage to the original, but this version is not your father’s Dynasty.
“Let’s just be real — the original Dynasty cast, no disrespect, was a very homogenous-looking cast,” actress Nathalie Kelley, who plays the new Krystle Carrington, told Brit + Co at the 2017 TCA summer press tour. “It really reflected where things were in the ’80s and where things were at with diversity, and I think that now the show is more reflective of where we are as a society.”
Kelley’s character is based on the original Krystle played by Linda Evans, but her name in the new version is Cristal Flores — and that’s very important to both the actress and the character’s storyline.
“She’s not the stereotypical Latina on TV. She’s not your big-accented, leading-with-her-sexuality Latina,” Kelley said. “She’s very smart, and I think the fact that they made her from Venezuela is so interesting considering all that is happening there right now. For The CW to want to weave in this geopolitical narrative from Venezuela into one of their primetime shows is a big deal.”
Indeed, the current situation in Venezuela is dire. The country is in political and economic crisis, with severe shortages of household items, food, and medicine. This environment plays heavily into the person Cristal is on the show.
“Venezuela used to be one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America. Caracas was like the Paris of South America and I remember when we, as Peruvians, couldn’t visit there because their currency was too high,” Kelley explained. “And now… the situation is pretty horrific. So that’ll be part of Cristal’s backstory — how did she get out? What is she escaping? What was she involved in there? And some of those skeletons will follow her out of Caracas, into the States and into the Carrington narrative. And that’s exciting to talk about on The CW… I think it’s a really smart, bold, intelligent choice to work that into the narrative.”
Kelley can’t give too much away, but let’s just say that nephew Sammy Jo (Rafael de la Fuente) calling her the “black sheep” in the premiere was not a throwaway comment.
“Cristal has made some morally ambiguous decisions. Decisions that we can’t judge because we live in the first world and you don’t know what it’s like to need to save your family and have a decision in front of you that may not be black and white. So she’s done some things that she may have reasons to need to escape the country. In that sense, she’s the black sheep,” said Kelley.
Furthermore, Anders (Alan Dale) is on to her as well, having found out things about her history that she may not want Blake (Grant Show) to know about.
“There are flashbacks to who Cristal was back then,” Kelley teased. “Without giving too much away, her name may not have been Cristal back then and she may be escaping some serious trouble.”
Suffice to say, Cristal of 2017 is not the Krystle of 1981, which Kelley hopes the fans will embrace. Kelley said she’s curious how fans of the original show will feel about her character, even if she makes them uncomfortable.
“I’m just curious how the original fans feel… what is that reflecting back to us if it makes us uncomfortable?” Kelley wondered. “I think all those reflections, even if they are uncomfortable and even if they are things that people don’t like, are all valid. They all start a valid conversation, and that’s what we’re hoping to do with this show. In addition to entertainment, we want to be relevant.”
But don’t worry — this is still Dynasty, so it won’t get too heavily mired in political discussions. As viewers saw in the premiere, there is still the kind of delicious fighting the original soap was known for, and it’s only going to get wilder as the season goes on.
“It’s fun to get rough and tumble with somebody, especially when it’s just play-fighting,” said Kelley with a laugh. “I will say, [the creators] come up with some amazing ideas for keeping these fights fresh, so it’s not like you’re just tuning into an episode of Basketball Wives every week. They’ve got to be relevant to the story, they’ve got to be grounded in the narrative, and it’s gotta have just the right amount of camp, and I think they balance it all.”
Dynasty airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT on The CW.
Did you watch the Dynasty premiere? Tell us what you think @BritandCo .
(Photos via Art Streiber/The CW + Jace Downs/The CW + Mark Hill/The CW)