With a successful Broadway career under her belt, actress Kearran Giovanni next set her sights on TV, and won the role of newcomer Amy Sykes on Major Crimes. In this exclusive interview, Kearran graciously took time to talk to MajorCrimesTV.net about the transition from the New York stage to Los Angeles, being the “new kid” in Major Crimes and her favorite parts of season one.
by M. Sharpe and C. Bullen
MajorCrimesTV.net: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Kearran Giovanni: Oh, you’re so welcome. Thanks for talking with me.
MCtv: How did you get started with the theater and stage, and how did that lead you to Broadway, and then from Broadway to Los Angeles and television?
KG: Well, it all started … no, I’m kidding. I danced growing up. I was a gymnast for many years, and I did it for fun. I never really thought I was going to have this as a career. I actually was planning to be an OB-GYN for a very long time. I wanted to be a doctor and deliver babies. And in my senior year, my dad actually went out of the country for six months and he said the only way I’ll allow you to stay there is if you get into a performing arts high school, and I’ll let you and your mom get an apartment and I’ll come back and forth. So I said fine, and I auditioned and I got into the performing arts high school in Houston, and that’s where I figured that you could actually have a career doing this, it wasn’t just for fun.
I went there for dance, and I did some musicals in high school, and then I got into college for musical theater. I got into a great school – I went to the College-Conservatory of Music that’s part of the University of Cincinnati, which is like musical theater boot-camp for dummies. I did my four years of time there, and the best part about that school is that, in your senior year, you get to audition for two hundred agents. A lot of people move to New York, with the intention of giving it a try, and submitting themselves, and waiting in the casting line. We never had to do that. I was in a class of twelve and we came to New York and we did a fifty five minute showcase, and basically the two hundred agents pick and choose who they want to see, and you get the pick of the litter. You choose your agent and you sign. So I met my agent there and I’m still with them from college, and the rest just fell into place. I auditioned, I started doing the Lion King tour four weeks after I graduated from college. Just crazy, like “here’s a puppet!”
So that was my first job outside of college, a big job, and then I just kept going from there and I luckily hopped from show to show to show for about ten years. The last Broadway show I did was Anything Goes, and then I did all the pre-production for Big Fish, which is the new musical that’s coming next year with Susan Stroman. I’ve done a lot of shows, and I’ve never done one that I was just so moved by, and the vision of the show is just amazing.
So that was my last thing, and then I moved here. I’d done a little TV in New York, and then I auditioned for this, and I read it, and I said this is it. My husband and I had talked about moving to LA, but we have kids and we can’t just pick up and move whenever we feel like it, so I wouldn’t have ever moved here unless I had this kind of opportunity. So I auditioned, and I screen-tested in New York, and it was like a Cinderella story. They flew me out, and I thought I was coming out to do a final meet-and-greet or something. I don’t know, it was all completely new to me, I was used to putting on tights and heels for an audition! So I came out and they actually surprised me at lunch and said congratulations, we’re so excited to have you in the family. They took me by the studio, and James took me shopping to find the right neighborhood to live in. I was crying and they showed me my desk in the office, and it was just amazing. So I went back home and packed up the family and we headed to LA like the Clampetts!
MCtv: Los Angeles has an active theatre community- are you planning to get involved with that at all?
KG: You know, I did it for so long, and so I kind of feel like I moved out here, not to move away from that, but to really kind of build a path in the TV world. So I’m not sure. I’m not saying no, but unless there’s something really amazing, I haven’t had a break in ten years. So I’m just going to relax and be a mom and get to be a part of their school life and their home life. I’m just kind of relaxing, honestly. That sounds so lazy! I should probably have other stuff going on, but not really. The TV life, I tell ya. Like six months of work, six months off, I kinda like it!
MCtv: Were you familiar with the world and characters of The Closer before you auditioned?
KG: I knew of the show, and I probably watched it here and there, but I’ve worked nights (in theatre), so I never really caught a lot of TV, honestly. So I knew of everyone on the show. I obviously knew of Kyra Sedgwick, and GW of course, he’s been around forever. I knew everybody, and then when I got the script, I just went into The Closer mode, and I’d come home from the show and every night my husband and I would sit and watch three or four episodes back-to-back so I could get a feel for everything, and see what was going on and how it was written and that kind of thing. So I always tell them I went to The Closer boot-camp before my screen-test, so I could get it down, and now I think I’ve actually seen almost every episode of The Closer.
MCtv: What was the experience of coming into Major Crimes, with you being the new person in what was mostly a group that had all transitioned from The Closer?
KG: I guess I was nervous in the beginning because, as the new kid, it’s never fun. However, I moved around a lot growing up so I’m actually used to being the new kid, and I also got welcomed into, like, the most amazing family, group of people you could ever imagine. I mean, I have friends who have worked on The Closer here and there, and they were like “Oh my god, you got the best job!”
I make fun because in the make-up trailer, there’s always someone going “Oh, you’re great, oh no, no, but you’re great, oh no, no, but you’re amazing.” Everyone is so supportive and everyone is positive, and it’s easy. Everyone is an adult, everyone is respectful, and it’s a really easy day at work. We have a really good time, we actually like each other, we like to hang out outside of work, and we see each other all the time. So I was worried, but it’s a totally new show in that we’ve formed our own little family now, and it’s great.
MCtv: From our perspective it feels very much like a new show, because there’s a new tone to it, and with Sharon there instead of Brenda, that has certainly changed so much, and it definitely feels like that to us.
KG: Oh good! It really is. You don’t see ensemble shows with this many people that actually all have screen time, and hopefully in season two we will all have great backstory episodes. I think that’s really nice and it just adds to all the respect that we have for each other, there’s no animosity or negative feeling, because we’re all in it to win it together.
McTV: Do you have a favorite episode from the first season?
KG: Oh gosh, well, I love the first episode, I just thought they nailed it right on the head with the transition. I think people went “Oh, let’s watch it because we love The Closer” and then went “oh, this is a totally new show”. It’s fast and the stakes are really high and the acting is great, hopefully, and you know, everyone loved it. So I really loved the first episode, and then I loved episode five, actually, with Raymond and I, because we get along like brother and sister. We just hit it off right away and we got to do a lot together in that episode. I got to be kind of a badass [laughs]. Which is awesome, so yeah, I loved episode five. I love them all, but I have a special place for those two.
Stay tuned for part two of our exclusive interview with Kearran Giovanni coming soon, where she talks about her hopes for Season Two, the changing dynamics between the characters, and navigating the world of twitter.
Kearran Giovanni’s Broadway credits include roles in Hugh Jackman’s Back On Broadway, Fininan’s Rainbow, Catch Me If You Can, Guys and Dolls and Sweet Charity. Prior to her role on Major Crimes she had a long-running role on the soap One Life to Live. In addition to working on Season Two of Major Crimes, Kearran will be guest-starring on the CW series Beauty and the Beast this February. You can follow her on twitter @KearranGiovanni.