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María Fernanda Yepes has played a schemer, a protagonist and the object of more than one man’s affection in telenovelas. But now, the Colombian actress is embracing an entirely different type of role: that of a butt-kicking Naval officer whose mission it is to protect innocent Mexican citizens.

In “La Teniente” – a scripted action series that premieres this Sunday at 10/9c on Mun2 – Yepes plays Mexican naval graduate Lieutenant Roberta Ballesteros, a woman who is unafraid to embrace a take-charge attitude when it comes to protecting the public.

“For me, it was a huge opportunity to work outside my country,” says Yepes, who is based in Colombia and taped the show on location in Mexico. “I loved the story, but what really drew my attention was I could play a woman who demonstrates how strong and capable she is.”

For Yepes, whom fans may remember best from the novela “Sin Senos no hay Paraiso,” the chance to act on a show jam-packed with action wasn’t without its challenges. She learned how to shoot firearms and filmed physically demanding sequences.

“Roberta and I both chase our dreams – we share many similarities,” explains Yepes of her character, who finds herself arresting drug and human traffickers in the show. “But it’s been challenging knowing that people see me as my character. You film the scenes with cameras and the director, but that’s not who I am.”

Another unexpected challenge? Yepes had to do her best to erase her Colombian accent and speak with a Mexican accent in the show, which is dubbed with English subtitles for American audiences.

“That was the big thing,” Yepes laughs, adding that she worked on her speech and tone throughout filming.

And while you may be surprised to see the über-feminine Yepes decked out in military fatigues, she’s extraordinarily grateful that the show is being shown stateside.

“As an actor, you always want people to respond to your work,” she says of “La Teniente” which was a hit when it aired in Mexico last fall.

“It’s extremely satisfying for me to see it do so well.” by  [NBC]