|Born||Janina Zione Gavankar
(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Janina Zione Gavankar (pronunciation: /dʒəˈniːnə ɡəˈvɑːnkər/; born November 29, 1980) 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. She majored in Theatre Performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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.
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.
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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.
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. 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. She appears on CW’s Arrow as a former flame to Oliver Queen.
Gavankar is an admitted gamer 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.
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.
Her indie movie, Satellite of Love, premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2012, and her 2012 indie I’m Afraid of Virginia Wolf is currently in post-production. On December 20, 2012, Gavankar was the last person interviewed for the now cancelled Attack of the Show! which aired on G4 TV.
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”, in the music video by San Francisco-based band Recliner for their single “Float Away”, as well as the music video for Manu Narayan‘s band Darunam.
In August 2012, she released the single for her upcoming EP, entitled Waiting for Godot, and in November, Billboard premiered the official music video. It went on to win numerous film festival awards.
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.
Gavankar was the personification of Microsoft‘s interactive search engine Ms. Dewey. In 2011 she created a free template for actors and artists to help them control their online presence 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.
|2001||Why Is God||Mina|
|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|
|2007–2009||The L Word||Papi||TV series|
|My Boys||Terri||TV series|
|Stargate Atlantis||Sgt. “Dusty” Mehra||TV series|
|Grey’s Anatomy||Lisa||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|
|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|
|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||TV series|
|Star Wars Battlefront II||Iden Versio||Video game|