We had the honor of sitting down with Gina Ravera on her recent visit to Atlanta for The Closer premiere party. We sat down with the star at the W hotel in Midtown to talk about the series, her character, and her career. Here’s what she had to say:
What can you tell us about the new season of The Closer? What can fans look forward to?
Ravera: We watched the progression of everyone coming together. That was season one. They’re a family now. This season is about power, the lack of it, and trying to have control when you don’t have any at all.
Season 2 starts out with a murder and a huge fire in Griffith Park. Kyra’s character, Brenda Leigh Johnson basically loses her mind, because she can’t control a natural disaster. As fans of the show know, Brenda is an absolute control freak. There’s also a new character, who is a reporter. He’s brought into the force to put a positive spin on LAPD, and it goes completely the opposite.
With my character, Irene Daniels, her relationship with Gabriel has been pretty quiet on-screen, but the relationship is taking a turn. It takes a pretty volatile turn, and it upsets the order of the squad room. So all of the things that Brenda was concerned would happen… well they do happen. We also have characters that find out how little power they really do have.
Any guest stars we can look forward to?
Ravera: You know everyone always wants to hear what it’s like to work with Kyra. She’s wonderful, but this show is really about the guest stars. It’s the showcase of talent that hasn’t gotten its chance to have a lead role and shine.
So upcoming guest stars, we have Daniel Baldwin and Jennifer Coolidge. Jennifer is actually in my favorite episode; it’s a case about a murder for hire. And in this murder for hire, you get everything. There’s nothing better than the comedic stuff between Proenza and Flynn. In this episode, it’s actually questioned whether or not Proenza still has a place on the squad because of his age, and whether or not he can still offer anything.
So that’s your favorite episode that is coming up?
Ravera: Yeah, I love Jennifer in it. She’s hilarious. In the middle of the reading, I was busting up a thousand times. I had to make myself be serious.
You’ve done so many projects over the years. What’s been different about Irene as compared to the other characters you’ve played?
Ravera: I’m very passionate and very expressive. I’ve played dancers and freaks. I’m from San Francisco, and I definitely put that part of my personality on-screen. This character, Daniels, is far more reserved than I’ve ever played. It was very difficult to play someone who was so buttoned down, so straight. Can I tell you… back problems! From just the suit alone… Folks who wear a suit, I have mad respect for, because the heels and suit every day [makes a pained expression while holding her back]. It’s difficult not expressing the way that I feel. I’m someone who doesn’t really edit a lot. I don’t really have a good edit button [laughs]. This character really has to keep things very chilled and do her job. The truth is that it’s a male dominated field, and you have to be perceived as someone who can handle whatever comes her way in the same manner that a man can.
Between being on ER and The Closer, do you ever feel like you could solve cases or handle medical emergencies if you ever needed to? Do you feel like these characters have educated you at all?
Ravera: Yes, I don’t know if I could solve cases, but am I more informed? Absolutely. The cases on the show are real, and they follow the procedure of LAPD. They’re based on real cases solved by Detective Mike Berchem. He’s on our show as not only a technical advisor but also as one of the writers. We’ve got some great episodes coming up that are straight from the pages of LA Times. So I understand how that works, and how court works now.
And with ER, all the cases are real, so the science is solid science. I actually had a family member who had a medical issue, and because of my character on the ER, I was able to ask really intelligent questions to their doctor. Had I not had that radiology background, I wouldn’t have been able to ask those questions. I definitely think these two roles have expanded my world and my knowledge.
Coming into The Closer, how much of the back story for your character did you know?
Ravera: Well the truth of the matter is that Daniels didn’t exist in the initial casting. I came in, and they said they didn’t have any material ready for me, so I read the role of Gabriel. So Daniels has kind of morphed as we have moved along. I find out who she is as the audience does.
Did the writer’s strike have any effect on the show?
Ravera: I think we were halted. We’re having a later premiere than we would have normally had. It definitely slowed down production, but other than that, no.
Are you guys worried at all about a potential actor’s strike?
Ravera: Absolutely. We have no idea until the moment comes. Even with the writer’s strike, I don’t think anyone knew it was going to happen for sure until that Saturday night. I personally hope we don’t… I don’t think the city of Los Angeles can take it. I don’t think the industry can take it. I think the issues need to be resolved, I just hope they can be resolved without a strike.
Do you have any other additional projects coming out?
Ravera: Right now, it’s just the show. The strike really just slowed everything down. I also run a non-profit. Sometimes on the set of The Closer, you’ll see me with two computers on my desk. I’m working on company time [laughs]… when I’m on break! It’s called Project Reina, and it deals with HIV and AIDS. It’s a prevention and pro-wellness campaign. It’s really about, this is an issue and we need to talk about it. It hasn’t gone away. It’s not about gay, straight, female, black, or white. It affects everyone. This campaign in particular targets the African American and Latino female demographic between the ages of 13 and 24. It was in a major publication recently, that 1 in 4 teenage girls in the United States have an STD. The stats are ridiculous!
I’m from San Francisco, so I think love and love all… but be smart [laughs].I really love the idea of being a part of helping the world. It sounds so: “I’m so fabulous and I’m helping the world”. But look, there’s stuff that can be done. If you have a dirty kitchen you can go in there, pick up a plate and clean it, or you can sit and stare at the television.
Do you have a website where people can go to find out more about this?
Ravera: I do! It’s http://www.projectreina.org/
Interview By: Emma Loggins