A meet-cute in the men’s room?!
That’s the unconventional setting that kickstarts a potential romance between international superstar Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelly) and Cuban-American baker Daniel (Victor Rasuk) in ABC’s new series The Baker and the Beauty, which premieres April 13 at 10 p.m. on ABC.
The romantic dramedy is based on hit Israeli series Beauty and the Baker, transferring the love story from Tel Aviv to Miami and the loving environment of Daniel’s family and their Cuban bakery. Daniel has been dating Vanessa (Michelle Veintimilla) for years and is in no rush to get married. His feelings get called even further into question when a chance meeting with superstar Noa in a men's bathroom tips him into one of the wildest nights of his life.
Star Nathalie Kelly reveals the meet cute, which EW has an exclusive look at above, was borrowed from the original Israeli series because of its originality. “It’s such a unique, interesting way to first meet somebody,” she gushes. “It says a lot about Noa. It tells us she’s a non-conformist. She doesn’t stick to the rules; she’s brazen and bold.”
It tells us so much about her in fact, that it was Kelly’s audition scene, meaning in the end, she performed it upward of 50 times. Though the pilot never reveals the reason why Noa is in there, Kelly confesses it’s because there’s no lines in the men’s room.
Costar Victor Rasuk shares the same enthusiasm for the moment. “It was totally offbeat,” he says. “I thought it was authentic.”
Shot in Puerto Rico, which doubles for the Floridian metropolis, the series is infused with themes of family and culture, which Rusak says have only been enhanced by their filming location. “In Puerto Rico, I always feel more connected to my roots [Rusak’s family hails from the Dominican Republic],” he reflects, before explaining how the show's cast and family-centered themes meant a lot to him on a personal level.
"I feel like the one thing that I connected with Daniel was that I'm also the oldest of my siblings and I know what that feels like, the responsibility to always be the example, especially in that culture, what that means," he says. "I'm just really happy that ABC and Universal took a chance on me and took a chance on the show with a mostly Hispanic group of actors."
For Kelly, the setting and storytelling was an opportunity for her to get in touch with roots she'd always felt disconnected from growing up in Australia. "I am ethnically Latina, but I was raised in Australia. So I am a white girl on the inside, although on the outside I look quite spicy, and yet I've always longed for a Latin family. That's not what I had growing up," she reflects. "When the Garcias bring [Noa] into their home, it is like a homecoming, and a family she's never had. In that sense, I can really relate, and it feels really sweet to be telling the story."
With its tale of average guy meets internationally famous superstar, The Baker and the Beauty offers up a twist on the Cinderella fairy tale. For Kelly, much of the appeal of returning to that story lies in what it has to say about fame. "We project onto these people, with wealth and status and fame, this idea of happiness," she notes. "These stories often show us that they might have everything, but they're pretty lonely. The person who has 'nothing' by comparison, often has a life that's rich in friends and family, and beautiful life experiences, and that resonates, because it's comforting."
Rusak, for his part, is eager for audiences to dive in. “I can’t wait for America to meet the Garcia family because there’s some really funny, heartwarming themes [to] fall in love with," he gushes.
Kelly echoes him, praising the show's different approach to its storytelling."To the writer's credit, they are not going down any obvious roads of catfights, and crazy female rivalry love triangles," she says. "I'm not going to say that there isn't drama around who gets Daniel's affection, but it's not your obvious me and Vanessa go toe-to-toe to win this man's love."
Watch the clip above for more.