‘Selena’ star Jon Seda says new sci-fi series ‘La Brea’ feels like blockbuster movie

LA BREA -- "Day Two" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

LA BREA -- "Day Two" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

NBC/Sarah Enticknap/NBC

It takes two minutes for the earth to break open and swallow several of the main characters at the start of NBC’s new sci-fi adventure series La Brea. The show follows a group of people who are somehow transported to a primeval, parallel universe after they fall into a massive sinkhole near the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

One of those characters is Dr. Sam Velez, played by actor Jon Seda (Selena). Sam is a physician and former U.S. Navy Seal who is driving his daughter Riley (Veronica St. Clair) to school one morning when the natural disaster hits and they both collapse into the mysterious void.

“It really starts off with a bang,” Seda, 51, tells MySA during a recent interview. “We ran through those doors. As I got each script, it was exciting for me to find out where the show was going.”

One of the places La Brea has gone so far during its first few episodes is introducing audiences to some of the creatures that Sam and the others will have to contend with if they hope to survive. This includes a pack of hungry wolves and an angry saber-toothed tiger. The “big blockbuster-type” feel to the project isn’t something Seda is used to but welcomes.

“It’s exciting to be a part of all these visual effects and to see how big the scope of the show is,” he says. “The action is there, but there’s also some really good drama as well.”

LA BREA -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Ben King/NBC)

LA BREA -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Ben King/NBC)

NBC/Ben King/NBC

Along with the grand-scale atmosphere of the series, something else Seda embraces is the fact that his character is a good guy. These types of roles are always something Seda says he looks for when a script comes across his desk. In the past, Seda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has played several police officers on TV, including his longest gig as Antonio Dawson on Chicago P.D. for six seasons.

“I try to look for positive characters as much as I can,” he says. “It was really intriguing to me in La Brea to have [a character] with a military background who is also a doctor and is trying to be the best father that he can be. He has so many different colors we can play with.”

There is also, of course, arguably the most famous role of Seda’s career – Chris Perez, husband of late Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez, in the 1997 biopic Selena. A favorite film in the Latino community over the last 24 years, Selena is now getting heavily campaigned this year by U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro and others to be preserved at the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

LA BREA -- "The Hunt" Episode 103 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

LA BREA -- "The Hunt" Episode 103 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Dr. Samuel Valez -- (Photo by: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

NBC/Sarah Enticknap/NBC

In a letter to the National Film Preservation Board earlier this year, Castro wrote that Selena “has become a beloved icon of Latino culture and has found widespread mainstream success, proving once and for all that Latino stories are American stories.”

Seda agrees wholeheartedly.

“Selena definitely should be added [to the Registry],” he says. “It was such an honor for me to be a part of it. Selena was such an amazing talent and is still touching so many new fans. Her music is worldly.”

New episodes of La Brea air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. CST on NBC.