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'Grand Hotel' brings a lot of sexy drama and Latinos in power

For actor Shalim Ortiz, executive producer Eva Longoria's TV drama portrays Latinos in positions of power and shows "the reality of the times we're living."
Shalim Ortiz in the premiere episode of "Grand Hotel," on ABC.Eric McCandless / ABC

The much-anticipated summer television show “Grand Hotel” promises a lot of sexy secrets, unsolved mysteries and dramatic plot twists, all while portraying Latinos in positions of power in front and behind the camera.

“When you do a show like this, you are not only showcasing Latinos in a mainstream way, which is evident and it's beautiful in itself, but you're also showing the reality of the times we're living in right now," actor Shalim Ortiz, who plays Mateo, the hotel’s manager and one of the drama’s main characters, told NBC News of the ABC drama. "Especially in Miami Beach, Latinos are in positions of power."

“Grand Hotel” is based on the successful Spanish television show “Gran Hotel” set in the 1900s. But executive producer Eva Longoria's version centers around the last family-owned hotel in modern-day Miami.

“Eva is one of the advocates of how now you can be the hotel manager, you can be in a position of power, and also just be a character who happens to be Latino, just like you happen to be American,” Ortiz said in regards to Longoria’s push to redefine how Latinos are portrayed on TV.

Longoria also directs episode three and plays the hotel’s former owner, Beatriz Mendoza.

“It's amazing as a spectator and as a cast member to be a part of a project that includes Latin characters in different job positions," he added, "it's not always the stereotypical jobs that we've been getting all these years.”

The mystery drama stars Mexican actor Demián Bichir as Santiago Mendoza, the charismatic owner of the Riviera Grand Hotel, and Puerto Rican actress Roselyn Sánchez, who plays his glamorous second wife, Gigi. As the couple and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success, outrageous scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets shake up their picture-perfect lives.

“They're not conventional heroes because everybody has something to hide and everybody has something that has leverage over someone else. That game of power, I think, is one of the delicious parts of the show,” Ortiz said.

For the Puerto Rican actor, the characters’ conflicting balance between flaws and strengths is what makes “you realize they’re humans,” he explains.

Ortiz plays hotel manager Mateo, who's part of the Riviera Grand Hotel's relatively loyal staff. But his complex relationship with hotel owner and main character Santiago Mendoza casts a dubious shadow over Mateo’s personality and intentions.

“I cannot agree that he's the villain of the show,” Ortiz said. “But let me just say that the show is full of surprises and no character is free from sin.”

The hotel walls that contain all the drama that viewers will see unravel throughout 13 episodes are a re-creation of the famous Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel, which the show creators built inside the Manhattan Beach Studios in Los Angeles.

“The sets were breathtaking. So, every time you would walk in there, you knew you were doing something magical,” Ortiz said.

Viewers will be able to check into the Riviera Grand Hotel as soon as the show premieres June 17 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.