|Beware SPOILERS for the
Stargate Atlantis episode "Whispers" in the interview below!
Some know her as Ms. Dewey. Others recognize her as Papi in The L Word
. But in the Stargate
neck of the woods, Janina Gavankar
is gung-ho hothead Dusty Mehra, part of an elite all-female unit stationed in the Pegasus Galaxy
In our exclusive interview, Janina fills GateWorld in on the details of shooting her first episode, "Whispers," reveals her love for her character's teammates, and goes in depth into the psychology of Dusty. She also tells us about other recent projects, particularly Ms. Dewey and her music background.
GateWorld's interview with Janina is almost 28 minutes long. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast
! The full interview is also transcribed below.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I'm David Read, and I'm talking with Miss Janina Gavankar, who prefers just Janina -- like Cher.
Janina Gavankar: [Laughter] It's, like, just Jack on Will and Grace. Or you can just call me "Janina Z." Anyone who knows me online, from anything I do online, they all see me as "Janina Z." Because that's my tag.
GW: Sweet. Now you were recently in Atlantis as Sergeant Dusty Mehra.
JG: Yeah. You say that like such a white boy. It's actually "Mehra." Which is Indian.
GW: Alright, so you were recently, like, down on, like, Atlantis. [Laughter] I'm terrible.
JG: You know the best part about being on Stargate? I really realize how important the fans were even before I got there. So I book the gig, I just find out, and I swear the fans knew before I knew. So I go to the forums, of course because I'm nerdy. I'm hanging out in the forums, seeing the people trash-talk. "Oh my gosh, I can't believe they're going to have an all female team. That's so lame. Because girls can't kill aliens." I don't know. Whatever their stupid reasons for hating us before they'd even seen us.
Yeah, that's right, I read you. If that was you, and you wrote that on GateWorld, I read you. Yeah, and I sneered at you. Ha. Ha-ha!
GW: That wasn't me! Oh you're talking about them.
The all-female Atlantis team: Major Anne Teldy, Sergeant Dusty Mehra, Dr. Alison Porter, and Captain Alicia Vega.
JG: The proverbial person listening who wrote that smack talk. Yeah, I read it. And I laughed at you. Ha-ha-ha! Ha. Ha. Anyway.
Originally I auditioned for this role and on the paper it was Sergeant Dusty Wells. Just [a] nondescript name. Then I'm hanging out in the forums and I see Sergeant Dusty Mehra. And I was like, "They made me Indian. They made me Indian because I'm Indian!" And I found out through the fans. How cool is that?
GW: That is very cool.
JG: Yeah, it was to me. I just met a guy today. Wait. What is his name? He played a billionaire who invented things. Charles Shaughnessy!
GW: Ah, yes, from The Nanny. That's right. He played a character in SG-1 Season Eight, episode "Covenant." Alec Colson was his character name.
JG: OK. Well, he and I were both comparing notes and we were all excited to hear about Stargate Universe because we were like, "Maybe we'll work together! You never know!" He said he had a great time working on it. Everybody who works on Stargate says that it's a great time.
GW: You know, that's why they're still on the air. Because they make people happy both in front of and behind the cameras. And the fans. So that's great. So what do you think about Stargate Universe? You think there's a place for the female team to transfer over there?
JG: I think the universe is run by a female team. [Laughter] I don't know. I know, specifically, that the three of us would love to be back. Christina [Cox, "Major Teldy"] came over to watch the episode. I had a huge geek-out fest. You know, mostly it's really hard to watch yourself as an actor. It's a horrible experience having to watch your face do stupid things that you weren't expecting it to.
In this case, sci-fi is so much fun that you don't think about schmacting or if anything didn't land the way you wanted it to. You just have a blast watching aliens die. [Laughter] It's great! It's great.
Dusty comes face to face with an evil doll.
I had my man friend, my boyfriend, he runs DeviantArt.com. So I had all the guys that work at HQ come over and we all had a geek fest and watched it. So we all just hung out and had a great time geeking on some Stargate. Christina came over. Nicole was going to come over, too, but she got my email in the last minute. We were all bummed. I was like, "We were so close to getting the band back together, man!"
One of my friends was like, "I hate you. I can't believe she didn't get the email. Don't you know it's your responsibility to get Nicole de Boer and me in the same room at the same time?"
GW: Yeah, I saw her at Comic-Con! She's fantastic.
JG: She's the cutest little pixie. So adorable. And she's cheeky. She had such an edge to her. I just love her. We were flying back from Vancouver to LA together and she's got this adorable little baby. This little munchkin of a baby. All three of us were sick at that time. All of us had a cold. We were all hanging out. She has such an edge and she's so funny. I love her. And also Christina! Christina's hilarious as well No one knows that about Christina!
GW: She was in Stargate a long time ago. She had such a great part but she had to play a bad girl. And then she had a die.
JG: Because the bad guys can't live. They can't live! I mean they can if they're ... Well, no. They can't live. Eventually we all must die.
GW: Well it was an interesting piece because she was a good bad guy.
JG: I've got to watch it.
GW: Yeah! It's Season Five. It's an episode called "The Sentinel." Very good. And I was like, "Yes, she's back!" Yeah, she's great. And who was it that got the axe?
GW: Leela Savasta! Yes, the poor thing.
JG: I know, we were bummed. It's just sad. Because you bond and then someone gets killed along the way. You don't shoot things in order. You go to work the next day after they've died. And you're like, "But you're dead already!" You're already mourning their loss. It's kind of sad.
" I know, specifically, that the three of us would love to be back."
GW: Had you been a Stargate fan in general before getting this role?
JG: I'm a sci-fi fan. I never let you finish any one of your sentences, by the way. Have you noticed?
GW: No it's fine!
JG: Oh, good. I've been a sci-fi fan my whole life. I was doing a question and answer for Joe's blog and someone asked me that. I reached into the confines of my mind and pulled out all the things I've been a fan of sci-fi wise. I was like, "My God, I've loved sci-fi since the beginning of time and I didn't even realize it until now!"
I grew up reading Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues and all of the Douglas Adams books and all of the Michael Crichton books. I read Sphere way too young. Way too young, man. I wouldn't prescribe that to any child under the age of eleven. "Really, actually you're kind of a wimp, Janina. Get over it. It's OK. It's a sphere. Big whup.