An interview with Janina Gavankar

AE: I know you probably can’t tell us too much more about the upcoming season of True Blood, but how does a schoolteacher end up meeting a guy that owns a bar?

JG:
Hmm. I would say Shreveport and Bon Temps are pretty small places. Everybody knows each other there. It’s like high school.

AE: Is Luna new to town?

JG:
She didn’t grow up there, but she’s been there for a while. This is her first year teaching school.

AE: Do we see you teaching children?

JG:
You don’t see me with my childrens. I think you see me at the high school.

AE: It seems to be a very sexy role for you.

JG:
I’ve never done anything like that before!

AE: Never! [Laughs]

JG:
[Laughs]

AE: Is it more risqué than what you’re used to or is kind of like “been there, done that, this isn’t new to me”?

JG:
I would say I’m definitely more naked than I’ve ever been before. We take off all of our clothes otherwise we’d hulk out of them.

AE: Yeah! Fully nude you!

JG:
Yeah I’m definitely showing more skin than I ever had. But my first big career move in my life was on The L Word and I was around some of the most amazing class act women with very long careers and I had access to some really strong women that I respect, and respected even before I met them in real life. And they were unafraid. They were also kind of like “Hey, do it while you’re young!

AE: Do you keep in touch with any of your castmates from The L Word?

JG:
Yeah some of them. I just missed my chance to see Jennifer in Chicago. WE just missed each other. Saw Pam earlier this year. I’m always texting her random things.

AE: That’s nice, it’s always good to hear women keeping in touch with each other. You always hear things about female TV stars who secretly hate each other or are mad that so and so got more screen time.

JG:
Oh I don’t play those games. I don’t give a s–t what anybody says, I’m happy to be there. I’ve realized I end up just as close to the writers and producers and the crew members as I do the cast. I don’t see that big of a difference between all of us.

AE: Are you looking forward to the premiere and the reactions from fans?

JG:
It’s kind of crazy. I obviously experienced being able to be in touch with fans with The L Word. I just feel like it’s an opportunity to – we all just dedicated a half a year of our lives to building season 4. Most of these people have dedicated half a decade to the show at this point, god knows how long this thing has been in pre-production before they even shot the first pilot, you know? For me, I just spent a half a year really invested in the show, and being a part of it. The fact that I get to walk around and talk to strangers about it and be excited with somebody, that’s freaking awesome. I’m excited, you know? I’m going to Comic-Con. I’m unafraid to talk to strangers.

AE: Do people recognize you more from being Papi or from The Gates?

JG:
Nobody recognizes me ever. It’s really funny with Papi because even if I’m sitting a the table – let’s say I go out to dinner and I’m sitting with a group of people I’ve never met before. One of them is an uber- L Word fan. This has happened to me over 30 times, I would say. Somebody says something about The L Word, and then I say something, and they basically go silent and kind of turn green because they realize they’ve been sitting at the table with Papi and feel silly. And I have to say “No, no, no – trust me, it’s OK! Unless I talked to you in her accent and swagged it over to the table, you won’t recognize me! Trust me, it happens all of the time!” And then it’s over, but nobody recognizes me. Nothing about us is similar. And if I’m not in the cop uniform, nobody recognizes me from The Gates. And with my hair back.

AE: Well I feel like with this role, you look more like you.

JG:
Yeah, she looks like me!

AE: So you’ll probably be recognized as that chick on True Blood.

JG:
That brown chick on True Blood.

AE: There have to be just as many loyal fans, if not more, of True Blood as there were of The L Word so that’s got to be exciting.

JG:
It’s definitely exciting. I love this show and understand why everybody loves it. This is the smartest group of people I’ve ever met. Everybody’s just – everybody is so good at what they do.

AE: I can’t wait to see the new season. Thank you so much!

JG:
Thank you so much! You know, I love AfterEllen. I think you guys do such a good job of covering everything community-based. But also, you all have supported us as we’ve moved on from The L Word and I’m just going to speak for all of us, I really thank you guys for doing that. It means a lot.

True Blood returns this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.

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