April 30 (UPI) -- One Life to Live alum Kelley Missal told UPI she signed on to star in ABC's The Crossing because she was intrigued by the idea of playing a refugee from a futuristic version of the United States.
"There was so much to explore there," the 24-year-old actress said in a recent phone interview, noting the story in some ways reflects current events, politically and socially.
The show follows Missal's Hannah and about 40 other people who wash up on an Oregon beach, claiming to have traveled through time to escape an unwinnable war against more advanced beings. Federal government agents arrive and whisk them away to a nearby camp while they determine who the people are and how they got there. Armed guards prevent them from leaving and it is, at this point, unclear to viewers what the fates of the detainees will be.
Playing Hannah required Missal to get into the head space of a desperate but resourceful woman who flees her home in the hope of a better life.
Since she was born in the United States, she was nervous about playing a refugee and looked for a way to relate to the character.
"I do know what it feels like to feel lost. I know what it feels like to be somewhere that I am not accustomed to," the New Jersey native said. "I know what it feels like to feel guilty and have a past and I know what it feels like to want to reinvent myself and getting a chance to do that, so all of those things I just kind of got really excited about."
The Crossing gives Missal her first regular series role since Danielle Manning, the daughter of super-couple Tea and Todd, whom she played on One Life to Live from 2009 until the soap opera was canceled in 2013.
The actress said that working on a big-budget, prime-time series, much of which is filmed outside and involves a lot of crew members, was very different from taping episodes of a daytime drama on a studio sound stage.
"When I got on One Life to Live, there were a lot of budget cuts and the show was kind of struggling a bit," Missal recalled.
She added there were days when she taped up to 80 pages of dialogue on OLTL as opposed to the two or four pages a day she generally films per day on The Crossing.
"A scene might be two pages, but you're shooting it for four hours," she said.
A guest spot on Sleepy Hollow last year helped her make the transition from soaps to science fiction.
"I was playing a 300-year-old witch," the actress said. "I just completely ran with it. I lost myself in it. Sleepy Hollow was super fun."
As one of six children in real life, Missal said she is at home being a part of big ensembles and still keeps in touch with her former One Life to Live co-stars whom she regards as a second family.
"I spent so much of my adolescence with those people, so much of my time with those people and learning off of them. I just feel really lucky to be in that community," she said.
Co-starring Steve Zahn, Natalie Martinez, Marcuis W. Harris and Sandrine Holt, The Crossing airs Monday nights on ABC.