Exclusive: ‘Major Crimes’ star Kearran Giovanni Talks Season 2 Expectations, Doing Her Own Stunts — And The Hollywood Grind
By Christion PetermanKearran Giovanni, star of TNT’s Major Crimes, left her adopted hometown of New York City earlier this year to pursue her dreams in Hollywood. Coming off the heels of a highly rated first season primetime show, the actress is reaping all of the benefits from her hard work.
Blackactors.net caught up with the Louisiana born, Texas–raised beauty who took us behind the scenes of her new life in La La land and gave us a glimpse of what it’s really like to work on a hit TV show.
Black Actors: Major Crimes‘ ratings are through the roof! How does it feel to be apart of a hit show?
Kearran Giovanni: It feels good! It’s totally new to me. I’ve been on Broadway for ten years, so I’m used to instant feedback. It’s right in your face. So, this is all very new to me. I see the ratings and I hear it’s doing great. I’m excited! I also feel like I look so different from what I look like on the show, I walk around in a crowd of people and nobody knows who I am. So, I feel like I’m a little removed from it. But I’m very excited about it and it’s very fun.
Tell me about your role on the show.
I play Detective Amy Sykes and she’s an ex-military undercover detective on the show. She’s kind of the new girl on the block. Everyone else has been there for a while, and my character comes in to stir things up a little. She makes friends with Captain Raider (Mary McDonnell) and she has her moments with Provenza (G.W. Bailey). She’s the new blood. I think she’s there to bring in some new ideas a bit. I do all of my own stunts on the show. Running, jumping, shooting, or doing anything cuckoo crazy–it’s probably me!
Who inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
Phylicia Rashad. As a kid, I just thought she was—besides my mother—the greatest woman to ever live and I still have a woman crush on her. Watching the Cosby Show when I was little, I was like “I can do that!” Actually, my first dream was to be an OBGYN because I wanted to be Dr. Huxtable. My mother would always say I should be a lawyer like Claire because I loved to argue (which is true), but I got the acting bug and I ended up going to college for musical theater. I filled the void along the way, I’ve played a doctor on ‘One Life To Live’ for a couple of years and I’ve played an OBGYN.
You got beat up pretty badly in a recent episode. How did you prepare for a big scene like that?
I look forward to those scenes. I’ve been a gymninst and a dancer for 20 years—so anytime that I get to do anything with physical action—I totally enjoy it. On that day, I ran. Actually, I got a call from Spike, our stunt coordinator, one week before the episode and he said “You might want to start running. You should run all day.” We did 13 hours of running that day. I carried one of my own cameras. I’ve done stunts for a long time for shows and live performances. So you have to trust everyone you’re around and try to make it look as real as possible. I never want to look like the girly girl with the gun or look ridiculous.
Your character has sort of a rivalry with Lt. Provenza. Is there a lot of pressure going toe to toe with a veteran actor?
Provenza [laughs] has his own opinions of a lot of things and that’s why we love him. Because he [GW Bailey] himself is so much like Provenza. But he’s like having an awesome uncle on the show and that makes it so much easier to be around him and people like Mary McDonald. For the first couple of days, I was like “Oh My God! What am I doing here? Dont mess this up!” He’s hysterical and we bounce things off of each other. I think we all get along so well because theres so much respect in the room and we realize we are all here for a reason. So everyone is respectable of everyones craft and everyones challenges, so it just feels like we are in a great ensemble company of actors.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
I just moved to L.A. six months ago from New York. So, driving everyday was a whole new ball game because I’m always on a train or something. Aside from getting in a car every morning and getting up around 4 o’clock in the morning (or earlier)—I have to drive to places like Santa Clarita, Encino, or wherever I have to be early in the morning. I start off on a Monday at a sensible 5am and by the end of the week it’s a bit later. I’m there about two and a half hours before we even go into set rehearsal for just hair and makeup and wardrobe stuff. For the most part—since we are a company of actors—we are all usually pretty much in every scene of an episode. We’re there pretty much all day. I’ve had days where I’ve started at 5am and I’ll get out at 9pm.–and then I’m back there the next morning at 9am. There’s a 12 hour turnaround and we’re usually pushed so far back into the schedule that we usually don’t start until 4 or 5 in the afternoon and we’ll work until 4 or 5 in the morning. We film everything in L.A. We do the stuff in the squadroom inside, but if theres anything written to be outside—it is shot outside and we don’t use an indoor lot to look like it’s outside. If it’s morning time, we are out there in the morning. If it’s nighttime, we are out there at night..in the middle of a nightclub. I have two little toddlers, so it was an interesting four and a half months.
You’re a relatively new actress outside of theater. What kind of roles will you be going after in the future?
Ummm. It’s hard to say. I’ve done Broadway for so long and I was on a Soap for a while, so I kind of let my agents guide me on that kind of stuff. However, now I found out that I love doing all of the action stuff and I would really like to do some action movies. I did a show on Broadway with Hugh Jackman and he kind of stirred up my excitement because he was doing Wolverine. I would love to do an X-Men or just something that would be physically fun. Aside from that, I just really would like to play really strong women. I find it a challenge because most of time, they are not that strong and they are actually very weak.
Maybe you can play Storm in the planned Black Panther movie…
Mayyyyybe. Who knows? I just moved to L.A. I dont really have any plans. Right now, there are just so many women to live up to. There are so many amazing African-American women leading the way, and I just hope to gracefully follow in their footsteps.
Major Crimes has been renewed for a second season. How would you like to see your character developed for Season 2?
Personally, I would like to know Amy’s backstory. I kind of made up my own in my head. But I know James, the show’s writer, has some sort of story for her and I want to know what it is or at least know what he thinks that it is. And James is really collaborative too. So, I would love to work and see where that goes. I would like to see her settle into her skills and right now, I thin shes still trying to prove herself. I hope she settles into herself enough where she’s not always trying to be that girl with her hand up every single time. I hope she becomes more of a leader on the squad. I dont know what James has up his sleeve. I think he’s still excited from the pickup and went on vacation. We will see…
The season finale of ”Major Crimes” airs tonight, Monday, Oct. 15 at 9/8c on TNT.