Janina Gavankar’s first major television role was on The L Word, and no matter how you felt about Papi, the Latina Casanova who bedded several of the show’s women, you had to fall for the actress underneath the fedora. After leaving the Showtime series, Janina has appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and the supernatural drama The Gates, which ran for one season on ABC. Now she’s returning to premium cable with a new role on HBO’s True Blood, playing Luna, a shapeshifting school teacher who falls for Sam Merlotte.
Janina talked with us about stripping down as a shifter, how she was inspired by actresses she worked with on The L Word and how she ends up on the most progressive shows on TV.
AfterEllen.com: We’re really excited to see you on True Blood. It’s a gay-friendly show all around.
Janina Gavankar: It really is. This year is even gayer than ever. I can’t tell you why, but I’ll just tell you it is.
AE: Will you be having any of the lesbian fun this year or are you pretty strictly into Sam?
JG: I am having no gay fun this year. I don’t know if Luna had some crazy days in college maybe but nothing too – she’s pretty straight. She has enough drama going on. [Laughs]
AE: So far all we really know about Luna is that she’s a shapeshifter and she’s a teacher. Are there any other defining characteristics of her? Is she a good person?
JG: She’s a good person. She’s really a good girl.
AE: A nice girl that people will want Sam to be with?
JG: Yeah I think that Sam deserves a nice girl and Luna might be it.
AE: Do you have scenes with any of the show’s female stars or is your storyline just about you and Sam?
JG: It’s pretty much about Luna and Sam thus far – at least that’s how it is in the beginning of the season.
AE: Are you in all of the episodes this season?
JG: I’m in almost all of the episodes.
AE: So is it a good bet that if it gets renewed we’ll see even more of Luna?
JG: I can’t say anything for sure, but probably.
AE: Well I’m glad you don’t get killed off after the second episode.
JG: Well, no. I make it to at least the third. I’ll say that!