Gavankar in 2017
|Born||Janina Zione Gavankar
(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Janina Zione Gavankar (/dʒəˈniːnə ɡəˈvɑːnkər/; born November 29, 1980) is an American actress and musician best known for her roles as Iden Versio in Star Wars Battlefront II, Luna Garza in True Blood, and Shiva in The League. 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 Gavankar an engineer from Mumbai, who first traveled to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree, and Mohra Gavankar from Pune, Maharashtra, who also emigrated to the US from India. Her mother is half-Indian and half-Dutch. Her grand uncle is renowned Bollywood sound re-recordist Mangesh Desai.
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Gavankar has acted in theatre, film, television, and online. Her most notable roles include Iden Versio, canon Star Wars character, and protagonist of Star Wars: Battlefront II, shapeshifter Luna Garza in True Blood, lesbian lothario Papi in The L Word; Ms. Dewey, the personification of a Microsoft live search engine; and Shiva, the namesake of the sought after trophy on The League. 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 vice squad police officer and 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.
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.
In 2017, she launched a private discussion forum for members of the games industry.
|2001||Why Is God…||Mina||Short|
|2005||Cup of My Blood||Iona|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Niki (voice)|
|2010||Men, Interrupted||Cece Twain||Short|
|2011||Custom Mary, TheThe Custom Mary||Ms. Rime|
|2011||Victory or Death||Selah||Short|
|2012||Satellite of Love||Michelle|
|2013||Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?||Katia Amour / The Stud|
|2013||Final Moments of Karl Brant, TheThe Final Moments of Karl Brant||Det. Hostetler||Short|
|2014||Code Academy||Madame Counselor||Short|
|2014||Think Like a Man Too||Vanessa|
|2017||The Vanishing of Sidney Hall||Gina|
|2017||Star Wars: The Last Jedi||Additional voices|
|2004||Strong Medicine||Nurse Juni||“Omissions”|
|2007–2009||L Word, TheThe L Word||Eva ‘Papi’ Torres||Recurring role|
|2008||My Boys||Terri||“The Transitioning”|
|2008||Stargate Atlantis||Sgt. ‘Dusty’ Mehra||“Whispers”|
|2008||Grey’s Anatomy||Intern Lisa||“There’s No ‘I’ in Team”, “Life During Wartime”|
|2009||Cleaner, TheThe Cleaner||Usha Patel||“The Projectionist”, “Trick Candles”|
|2009||Three Rivers||Ada Rahimi||“Place of Life”|
|2009–2015||League, TheThe League||Shivakamini Somakandarkram||Recurring role|
|2010||Gates, TheThe Gates||Leigh Turner||Main role|
|2011||Traffic Light||Alexa||Recurring role|
|2011–2013||True Blood||Luna Garza||Main role (seasons 4–5), recurring role (season 6)|
|2012||Exes, TheThe Exes||Kerry||“My Dinner with Phil”|
|2012||Choke.Kick.Girl: The Series||Katie||“Hammerfist, Knee, Guillotine Fiend”|
|2013||Love Is Dead||Marisol Rajagopal||TV film|
|2013||Arrow||Det. McKenna Hall||Recurring role|
|2013||Goodwin Games, TheThe Goodwin Games||Hannah||“The Birds of Granby”|
|2013||Just Face It||Ava||TV miniseries|
|2013||Husbands||Kajal||“I Dream of Cleaning”|
|2013||Vampire Diaries, TheThe Vampire Diaries||Qetsiyah / “Tessa”||Recurring role (season 5)|
|2014||Nikki & Nora: The N&N Files||Lea Sadina||Recurring role|
|2014||Garfunkel and Oates||Dr. Sharma||“Third Member”|
|2014–2016||Mysteries of Laura, TheThe Mysteries of Laura||Meredith Bose||Main role|
|2015||History of Us, TheThe History of Us||Sabrina||TV film|
|2017||Sleepy Hollow||Diana Thomas||Main role (season 4)|
|2018||Hell’s Kitchen||Herself||Guest diner; Episode: “Stars Heating Up Hell”|
|2014||Far Cry 4||Amita||Voice|
|2017||Horizon Zero Dawn||Tatai||Voice|
|2017||Star Wars Battlefront II||Iden Versio||Voice, likeness, and motion capture|
|2017||Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad||Narrator|