Janina Gavankar


Janina Gavankar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Janina Gavankar
Janina Gavankar 2014.jpg
Born Janina Zione Gavankar
(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980 (age 36)
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress, musician
Years active 2001–present

Janina Zione Gavankar (pronunciation: /əˈnnə ɡəˈvɑːnkər/; born November 29, 1980)[1][2][3] is an American actress known for her role as the voice of FERO, one of main protagonists in the Halo 5: Guardians promotional event, Hunt The Truth. Gavankar is also trained as a pianist, vocalist, and orchestral percussionist.[4] She majored in Theatre Performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago.[5][6]

Gavankar’s roles include Papi, a lesbian lothario in The L Word; Leigh Turner, a cop with a big secret on The Gates; Ms. Dewey, the personification of a Microsoft branded search engine who comments about the user’s searches; Shiva, the namesake of the sought after trophy on The League; shapeshifter Luna Garza on HBO‘s True Blood; McKenna Hall on The CW‘s Arrow; and Meredith Bose on NBC‘s The Mysteries of Laura. She also played Diana Thomas on FOX‘s supernatural drama Sleepy Hollow.

Personal life[edit]

Gavankar was born in Joliet, Illinois to Peter Ganesh (“Pete”) and Mohra Gavankar. Her father was an engineer from Pune, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, who first traveled to the United States to pursue a master’s degree. Her mother, Shan-de-Mohra, emigrated to the United States from India. Her mother is half-Indian and half-Dutch.[7]


Gavankar has acted in theatre, film, television, and online. Her most notable roles include Papi in The L Word; Ms. Dewey, the personification of a Microsoft live search engine; Shiva, the namesake of the sought after trophy on The League; and, most recently, as a shapeshifter, Luna Garza, on HBO‘s True Blood. She regularly appears in Funny or Die shorts.[8]

In 2006 she joined the cast of The L Word as a series regular, and shot all of the clips used for Ms. Dewey. In 2007, she landed a lead in CW pilot Dash 4 Cash.[9] In 2008, Gavankar appeared in TV series Stargate Atlantis, Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS, My Boys, and Factory. In 2009, she appeared in the TV shows The Cleaner, Dollhouse, Three Rivers, and The League, as well as indie movies Men, Interrupted, Indian Gangster, and Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey. Gavankar played the voice of Nikki in Quantum Quest. She landed a lead role in The Gates, since cancelled, on ABC.[10] She appears on CW’s Arrow as a former flame to Oliver Queen.

Gavankar is an admitted gamer[11] and has appeared on, as well as co-hosted, G4 TV’s Attack of the Show!, Epileptic Gaming’s Up All Night, where she helped review Rock Band, Burnout Paradise, and Army of Two.[12]

In 2011 Gavankar became a series regular in HBO’s True Blood as a public school teacher and shapeshifter, Luna Garza, who gets romantically involved with one of the main characters of the series.[13][14]

Her indie movie, Satellite of Love,[15] premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2012, and her 2012 indie I’m Afraid of Virginia Wolf is currently in post-production.[16] On December 20, 2012, Gavankar was the last person interviewed for the now cancelled Attack of the Show! which aired on G4 TV.[citation needed]

On August 3, 2013, Gavankar landed a role as a witch named Qetsiyah in the fifth season of The Vampire Diaries.[17] She guest starred in the third season of Husbands.[18]

In 2014, she starred as Amita in the video game, Far Cry 4.[19] She also played Detective Meredith Bose on The Mysteries of Laura from 2014 to 2016.[20]


Gavankar returned to music with a cover of Kanye West‘s “Love Lockdown“.[21] Gavankar’s former all female singing group, Endera, was signed to Cash Money Records Universal Records.[22]

She collaborated on a project for a song called “Tell Me What” in India with Pratichee Mohapatra of Viva, Deep, and Navraaz. She has had songs licensed to movies and television, and has sung and played marimba on film scores. Gavankar was featured in Russian artist Ella Leya‘s music video for “Wish I Could”,[23] in the music video by San Francisco-based band Recliner for their single “Float Away”,[24] as well as the music video for Manu Narayan‘s band Darunam.[25]

In August 2012, she released the single for her upcoming EP, entitled Waiting for Godot,[26] and in November, Billboard premiered the official music video.[27] It went on to win numerous film festival awards.[28][29]

While in high school, Gavankar auditioned for the front ensemble of the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps of Rockford, Illinois. Before hearing whether she had made the corps, she was accepted for the Yale School of Drama’s summer camp, and went there. “I fell in love with drum corps when I was 13 years old”, Gavankar has stated, and remains a strong fan of the activity. When she heard the Martin Garrix/Usher collaboration, “Don’t Look Down”, she had the idea of performing it as marching music. With assistance from Drum Corps International, she contacted the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps and arranger Colin Bell. She went into the studios in New York with fifty members of Jersey Surf and recorded the music video “Don’t Look Down- #JustAddDrumCorps Edition” that was released in April 2015.[30]

On May 20, 2015, Gavankar performed a percussion duet at Carnegie Hall with Questlove for the Best Buddies charity benefit.[31]


Gavankar was the first actor to use Twitter, signing up on Richard Branson‘s computer on Necker Island in 2006.[32][33]

Gavankar was the personification of Microsoft‘s interactive search engine Ms. Dewey.[34] In 2011 she created a free template for actors and artists to help them control their online presence[35] and in 2012, spoke at the Suits and Spooks Conference about how she discovered a solution for data challenges faced by actors through the use of open source tools.[36]


In 2008, Gavankar was nominated for an Asian Excellence Award.[37] In 2012, Gavankar received the Gravity Summit Award for Excellence in Social Media.[38]


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Why Is God Mina
2002 Barbershop Fine Woman MGM
2003 Dark Kaya
2004 Barbershop 2: Back in Business Field Reporter Sequel
2005 Cup of My Blood Iona
2006 BBQ Bill The Fiance
Ms. Dewey Ms. Dewey
2007 Dash 4 Cash Melanie TV series
Epileptic Gaming Herself
2007–2009 The L Word Papi TV series
2008 Shattered! Maria
Factory Laura TV series
My Boys Terri TV series
Stargate Atlantis Sgt. “Dusty” Mehra TV series
Grey’s Anatomy Lisa TV series
2008–2009 NCIS Angela TV series
2009 Dollhouse Lynn TV series
The Cleaner Usha TV series
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Nikki (voice) Animated movie
Men, Interrupted Cece Smith Independent movie
Three Rivers Ada TV series
Indian Gangster Geeta Independent movie
2009–2015 The League Shivakamini Somakandarkram TV series
2010 6 Month Rule Reese Independent movie
The Gates Leigh TV series
2011 The Custom Mary Ms. Rime Independent movie
Traffic Light Alexa TV series
The Exes Kerry TV series
Method Shapeshifting Herself Funny or Die short
Herpacol DX Actress Funny or Die short
God Reschedules Rapture Blogger Funny or Die short
Touring Actress Funny or Die short
Victory or Death Selah Independent movie
Attack of the Show! Herself TV series
Satellite of Love Michelle Independent movie
2011–2013 True Blood Luna TV series
2012 I Am Afraid of Virginia Wolf Katia Independent movie
The Tournament Challenge Challenged Herself Funny or Die short
Do’s and Don’t Various Characters (Voice) Web series
Attack of the Show! Herself TV series
X-Play Herself TV series
The Q Side Herself Web series
Squad 85 Cameo Web series
2012-13 Arrow Mckenna Hall TV series
2013 The Vampire Diaries Qetsiyah/Tessa TV series
The Goodwin Games Hannah TV series
Bizarre Bracket Behaviour Actress Funny or Die short
Just Face It Ava Web series
The N&N Files Leah Sardina Web series
Husbands Kajal Web series
2014 Think Like a Man Too Vanessa
Garfunkel and Oates Dr. Sharma TV series
Far Cry 4 Amita Video game (voice and motion capture)
2014–2016 The Mysteries of Laura Meredith Bose TV series
2015 HUNT the TRUTH FERO/ONI Agent Maya Sankar Video game marketing campaign (voice)
2017 Sleepy Hollow Diana Thomas[39] TV series
Sidney Hall Gina
Star Wars Battlefront II Iden Versio Video game

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