From McAllen High to CSI: Vegas, South Texas actress makes her way to CBS

Ariana Guerra is a 2012 graduate of McAllen High School and plays Detective Serena Chavez in CSI: Vegas. (Courtesy Photo)

CSI: Vegas is set to premier Thursday, and Rio Grande Valley fans of the popular crime drama may recognize one of the show’s regulars.

Ariana Guerra, a 2012 graduate of McAllen High School, is set to appear on the show as Detective Serena Chavez.

Guerra spoke to The Monitor on Wednesday while on set. She was on break in between shooting scenes and working on memorizing her lines.

“It’s essentially a group of really intelligent investigators who are trying to solve crimes,” Guerra explained. “I am actually not a CSI. I play a detective who’s originally from Miami. My parents were cops. The backstory behind it hasn’t really been revealed, but I am a detective in Vegas and I work alongside the CSI team.”

With so many spin-offs based off of the original CSI television program, CSI: Vegas is the show’s first sequel with many cast members from the original program reprising their roles.

“It’s an incredible privilege, and I feel super lucky because the cast and the crew are exceptional,” Guerra said. “Everyone is just so lovely. This is the second season, so they had an entire season where my character wasn’t in the show. They kind of just welcomed me in, and I’ve been able to just play and explore and figure out where Detective Chavez falls in this world of CSI, which has been around for 20 years.”

Guerra said that the production of the show is a massive undertaking, describing the set as everything that one would expect from a widely popular television program.

“It takes a village,” Guerra said. “You feel like you’re in your own little world almost of just movie making and movie magic. It’s just really fun. Especially because we’re from the Valley. Anytime that you see something that you saw on a film or on TV, you just assumed that it’s imaginative. But to be in that space for real as a job and get pid for it, it’s overwhelming. It’s so incredible.”

She said that she hopes that viewers enjoy the show and are able to connect with her character.

“For some people, it’s a way to escape,” Guerra said. “How we choose to interpret the art is not my concern, but rather seeing someone from the Valley who truly doesn’t have that much talent and doesn’t come from money, who didn’t have any connections, who had to work a bunch of jobs and try to figure it out independently, also be inspired to pursue some of these more difficult creative careers because I know that we have the talent. There’s people that have the drive. It’s just the fear of not knowing or not being seen, or not seeing someone else do it that keeps people from trying to pursue their real dreams.”

“I’m an example of someone who didn’t take no for an answer,” she continued. “I was able to fall into a great opportunity like the one that I have and hopefully have a career that is long lasting.”

CSI: Vegas will premiere Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBS.

From McAllen High to CSI: Vegas, South Texas actress makes her way to CBS