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Exclusive: Kearran Giovanni Gorgeous, Classy, and Unfiltered

Cover Exclusive / News & Entertainment / December 16, 2013
The charming Kearran Giovanni nest known as Detective Amy Sykes on TNT hit drama MAJOR CRIMES, sits down with Prestige reporter Erecia, to talk  about her character Amy, Broadway, and gives us a MAJOR CRIMES   teaser.  

Erecia: Okay, so you were born in Louisiana and you starred on “One Life to Live” as Dr. Wright and you starred in a few Broadway plays as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and who exactly is Kearran Giovanni?

Kearran: Well, I did a soap for a while. I did “One Life to Live,” and my main focus, I guess, before I kind of got into TV was theater, that’s what I went to school for and what my first passion was so I went to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a musical theater.

Erecia: How was that?

Kearran: It’s a huge musical theater school. It’s about between 12 and 15 kids a year

Erecia: Really?

Kearran: Uh-huh.

Erecia: Wow, so they really focus on you guys.

Kearran: Yes, yes, very much so. We get to come to New York and do a senior showcase for about 100 agents in New York and kind of have our pick of the litter. So, we perform and then kind of pick who we would like and they set up meetings and we’re off and running. So, that’s kind of how I got my start. I started doing theater, and doing musical theater on Broadway. And then, obviously fell in love with all kinds of acting and doing what you can in New York.  There’s a lot of theater, but there’s a little bit of TV so, I’d like to say the soap kind of…it was like crash course in TV acting. It moves so fast and you have so much dialogue and there’s not really time for asking questions. You just kind of learn what you’re doing on the fly. So, that was great. And, you know, living in New York was kind of my dream life. I just didn’t think I’d ever leave. I thought I would die in Manhattan with a cat on the Upper West Side.

Erecia: Oh no, the old woman with the cat?

Kearran: This is it for me, you know, I loved it. I love New York, I still miss it. And I had settled in, we had our children who were born, and I got married there, and so, this show came along and there you go.

Erecia: So, how recently did you move to LA?

Kearran: I moved here last season. So, like a year-and-a-half ago April.

Erecia: Oh wow, so you’re like fairly new.

Kearran: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Erecia: Oh my God. Well, that’s cool. So, let’s talk “Major Crimes” which is actually a spin-off of “The Closer.” How did the opportunity come about to star on “Major Crimes?”

Kearran:  So, I was living in New York and my agent sent me in for the show and I read the script and I read the description of Amy and I thought, “This is exactly something I want to do. This is a role I’d love to play for a long time.” And even before I had gone in for it, I went to my husband and I said, “You know, if I get this it means we have to go to LA.”

Erecia: Right.

Kearran: That’s that, and he said, “Yes, if you get it we’ll go.” And so, there was never a hesitation and even our nanny at the time whom we’ve had since our first was born said, “Yeah, I’ll come with you. Sure, let’s go.”

Erecia: Oh, wow. You had a good support team.

Kearran: Yeah. So, I went in and I auditioned and then I got a callback and then they wanted to screen test me in LA which I was doing Anything Goes on Broadway at the time so I couldn’t leave. Broadway is very strict about giving you time off. So, they basically just let me screen test in New York and kind of told me I had the job, but kind of didn’t so I was kind of on the fence. And then they flew me to LA what I thought was for audition again. I thought, “Okay, well, I have to do one more round for the network or something.”  So, I came in and I got all ready to meet the two executive producers for lunch. I thought, “Oh my God, is this what they do in LA? Am I going to have to audition at the table?” I had my scripts, I had my sides packed in my purse just in case and I had never done this before so, I got to lunch and basically they said, “We just wanted to meet you in person and welcome to “Major Crimes.” We hope you’re like family,” and took me to the set and showed me my desk, picked out costumes, and had a fitting.

Erecia: Oh, wow. Right away, huh?

Kearran: It was like a full blown Cinderella story, and I’m going around to have lunch with them which is like an hour, and then I get to the studio. They drive me over. I’m in the car with James Huff, our creator of “The Closer” and our show, and he points out, “Oh, you should live in this neighborhood.” It was all surreal. I basically could not scream for like three hours because I had to do lunch, and then I go and see the set, and then I had to get back. I got all these phone calls like, “What are you doing? Like, your lunch should be over by now.” But I couldn’t call anyone until I was finished so, it was a super exciting day and a wonderful trip back home to tell everybody that we were going to LA. I felt like the Clampetts.

Erecia: Yeah, that is like a fairytale story.

Kearran: It was pretty cool. Pretty cool.

Erecia: So, tell us about your character Amy Sykes.

Kearran: So, Amy, is, like I said before, a great character. She is ex-military. She is super smart. She’s tough, she’s been FIF which is like kind of the toughest cops they build squads into to go after really hardcore criminals to follow them for months and months and months and build a case, and then basically swoop in at the end. The goal is, which I’ve learned from one of our producers who is an ex-cop, is that your goal is not to come out with anyone alive except for yourself.  To know that, have that backstory about her you learn a lot about her. And then her other side is that she’s a complete kiss ass and she–it’s like do anything she can to kind of work her way up the ladder. She’s no fool to how to get to the top, and she gets it in a very nice way, but she’s very smart. So yeah, I think she has bigger aspirations than just doing the cop. I think she eventually wants to be one of the leaders. Yeah, she’s super fun to play, and she’s super athletic which I love, and she’s very smart.

Erecia: Would you say there are any similarities between you and Amy?

Kearran: Yeah, absolutely. I think I’m definitely a people pleaser. I just grew up that way. I wanted to please the teacher and please my parents and please my friends, and that’s just kind of who I am and I think that part of her is very easy to play because it does lie close to home. She’s way braver than I am, and way stronger than I am. I am not the person who go towards danger, I run very far away from it so, opposite on that, but yeah there’s definitely parts of her–you know, I’d like to consider myself intelligent so…I would say that. But yeah, I love the balance of having small things about myself that I can pull from and then other things that I learn how to play with her.

Erecia: Right, okay. So you just wrapped up season two.

Kearran: Yep.

Erecia: “Major Crimes” is set to return on November 25th . So, can you give us a little teaser on what we can we expect for your character this season?

Kearran: No. Can I just say that these last like eight episodes is fabulous, even just reading them every time we got a script we all were like on the edge of our seats. They’re really, really high stakes, and high energy, and they’re really exciting. So, I hope everyone tunes in. And you know, ooh a teaser, let’s see…I can say that no one is safe and there’s going to be an appearance of a very exciting man in Sykes’ life.

Erecia: Oh yes, finally.

Kearran: You’ll have to wait and see who that is.

Erecia: Okay, great. Yeah, I was watching a few episodes and I’m like, “Oh, this is good.” Okay, cool. So, you’ve starred in Hugh Jackman’s Broadway play which was “Back on Broadway.” How was it working with the Hugh Jackman?

Kearran: Oh, wonderful. I mean, he’s just an acting gentleman. He’s just a wonderful guy, very, very sweet, and I always say it’s like a rock concert every night. You know, there’s people literally screaming uncontrollably. There was a woman one night who got so feted she took her wig off and threw it on stage. So, it was exciting, and he promptly put it on and then danced with it which was hysterical. It was really fun. I mean, it was a really good time. I met some really good girlfriends on the show, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. So, it was really fun.

Erecia: That was really great. So, you’ve played a detective, a doctor, so many other different characters. When looking at a potential role what draws you to that character?

Kearran: What do I look for in a character?

Erecia: Yeah, or what draws you to a character rather?

Kearran: Oh, draws me. You know, I try not to pick anything that is stereotypical. I don’t like stereotypes in life and so I really try not to play them on TV or in a movie. I just feel like, why perpetuate that? Why keep that stereotype alive? And so, that’s why I was really excited that when I read this that there was nothing about her–she could’ve been anything, anyone, any body, any size, any race, any age. She was just a person with a really great story and a life. And so I just try to look at everything through those eyes and just look at the writing, and to be fair, it’s also a job. It’s a career and you have to be strategic about moves that you make and how you want to be portrayed, and it’s also work. So, just like any other job sometimes you need work, and so you don’t always get to be picky and choosy. And this fell into my lap, but when I can be I really try to find, you know, like Dr. Wright a brilliant doctor. You know and she could be in any walk of life, any person. It was just a great part. So, yeah I just try to look for the writing, I guess.

Erecia: What would you say has been your most favorite role to play?

Kearran: I say Amy. Amy’s my favorite so far. Yeah, she really is. And it’s different when you are doing a TV show as opposed to theater where you really stay with a character for a really long time on TV and you really get to learn about them. Whereas Broadway, it’s wonderful, but you’re that same person every single night for a year or two, like, you don’t get to change it up.

Erecia: Do you have a preference?

Kearran: I like them both. I like them for different reasons. I have a love of theater, that’s where I come from, and it’s like I could do it in my sleep. It’s like second nature, and then TV is a wonderful way to tell a story. It lets you have a weekend which is fantastic. 

Erecia: Why don’t they ever make better actors, you know, better film actors? They always say that theaters actors make better on-camera actors.

Kearran: You know what I think it is? I think the reason why that gets said a lot is because there is a discipline that comes from theater that if you’ve kind of survived it then it’s just makes TV seem like a gift, and I think sometimes if you have only done TV and you haven’t gone through kind of the, you know–it’s just very different. There’s someone yelling at you at five minute call, there’s someone, you know, you’re rehearsing all the time. You’re doing eight shows a week. You’re working on Christmas. “No one cares how you feel or if you’re hurt, get on stage now and stop whining.”   And you’re definitely treated as kind of replaceable on Broadway whereas in TV you’re handled with such kid gloves that I think if you’ve only been handled that way there’s an expectation about how work should be. And for me at least, I’m speaking personally, coming from theater and having gone through all that for ten years and then getting to do this it feels like it’s like Christmas every day. I mean, I literally, like, go to work. I’m like, I’ve baked brownies. I’m like singing a tune, everyone’s so nice. I’m like, “What do you want? What do you want? Anything you want. What do you want? You want a car? Absolutely.”

Erecia: It’s like, I am happy and the sun is great out here.

Kearran: Yeah, exactly. There’s an appreciation, I think that that’s the difference in the two.

Erecia: Right, and it’s actually, in theater, there’s no rewind, there’s no cut, you know, it’s just like it’s going.

Kearran: Right. Yeah, you don’t get a second chance. Just do your best. Yeah, it kind of just is what it is right in that moment in time.

Erecia: Yeah. So, you have a husband, and I believe you have two beautiful girls.

Kearran: Yeah.

Erecia: It must be hard, how do you juggle with all those roles of wife, mother, actress? And how do you balance everything?

Kearran: Well, you know, you have to schedule everything. There’s got to be a calendar everywhere and everyone’s got to be in sync as far as getting everyone to the right place at the right time. And, you know, it’s what I wanted so, you just make it work. You know, you just make sure you carve out time for the most important part which is family because no matter, you know, they’re not going anywhere.  At the end of the day you have to please yourself and you have to please your family. And, you know, work will fall into place. So, yeah, it’s a gift, it’s everything I asked for, too. So, if I’m not at work I’m at home. So, as much I love to do other stuff, it’s kind of one or the other. So, I’m looking forward to the next four months of being off and enjoying the kids and being home and being with my husband. So, that’ll be great.

Erecia: So, how do you stay in shape? Especially with Amy’s role, there’s a lot of physical activities. How do you stay in shape in general, and preparing for her role?

Kearran: You know what? I am lucky that I took dance for so long and doing Broadway for ten years I danced eight shows a week. So, it actually was kind of nice to come and take a little bit of a break. My body needed a break after that long ‘cause before that I was actually a gymnast then a dancer then a singer then got into acting and then started doing theater. So, it’s been 20 years of abuse. So, I just needed a break. But honestly, I just took a little bit of a break and I do some yoga, I do some cardio, I take spinning when I can, but for the most part I just try to eat healthy and not eat a lot of crap. You know, a little bit of everything. I take a bite of everything, I never say no, but everything in moderation including exercise.

Erecia: That’s good. I’ll take notes whenever I have kids because I’m like, “If you have kids there’s no way.”

Kearran: Yeah, moderation.

Erecia. Okay. So, I think family is super important to you. Who would you say has been your biggest influence in your life and what lessons did that person teach you? How’d they help you with your career?

Kearran: I’d say my parents, in general, just because I couldn’t pick just one because I think the two of them together were the yin and yang of our parenting for my brothers and I. So, I would say, yeah, especially my mom, you know, they always kind of expected a lot from me and not in a negative way. They just knew that they were working hard and putting in their 100% and they expected me to do the same. So, I never wanted to disappoint, and I’m glad that they did. I’m glad that they expected so much, and it forces me, and makes me want to push myself to do as much as I can. And they were super proud, and they never inflated my head or made me feel like I was the best at everything because is anyone really the best? No. Whatever you call it, it’s all relative, but did you try your hardest? Did you do what you could? If you want to do better then you have to work hard at it. So, yeah, my dad’s still my influence. My mother, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago.

Erecia: Oh, I’m sorry.

Kearran. Thank you. But she’s still my inspiration of pushing myself and I know she’d be proud.

Erecia: Yeah, absolutely. So for your readers out there, where can your fans keep up with you rather? Are you on Twitter, Facebook?

Kearran: Yeah, I’m @KearranGiovanni on Twitter, I’m Kearran Giovanni on Instagram, I’m Kearran Giovanni on Facebook. Like, I couldn’t be creative and think of some like really cool Instagram name, it’s just me, and that’s it.

Erecia: No, that’s good. It could become twisted.

Kearran: Yeah, it’s nice and easy. Not like, CareBear25, no, just me.

Erecia: I know, all these weird numbers, oh gosh.

Kearran: Yeah, I got lucky, unfortunately, nobody in the entire universe, I think, has my name. So, I’m lucky.

Erecia: Yeah, your name’s actually spelled very different is, I think, pretty cool.

Kearran: My parents decided to be creative, I guess, when I was born.

Erecia: Don’t worry, I have that same problem. It’s Erecia, but it’s spelled like a totally different thing.

Kearran: Oh yeah, I mean, people at the Starbucks go, “How do you spell that?” And I go, “Just like Karen, it’s fine, it’s cool. Like, no, no, no. Like, really, just write “Karen” Just write “Karen,” it’s fine. I don’t care.”

Erecia: Yeah, I can relate. I can relate. And lastly, is there anything you wish to say to your readers of Prestige Magazine?

Kearran: Oh gosh, I don’t know. Ha ha, I mean, I feel like I already talk enough. I’m sure they are tired of hearing me. But yes, you know what? Tune in. I hope everyone loves the show this season as much as we enjoyed making and hopefully we’ll be around just as long as “The Closer.”

Kearran Giovanni

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