Janina Gavankar

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Janina Gavankar
Janina Gavankar at C2E2 (1) (cropped).jpg
Gavankar in 2013
BornJanina Zione Gavankar
(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980 (age 32)
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Years active2001–present
Height5' 7"
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Janina Gavankar
Janina Gavankar at C2E2 (1) (cropped).jpg
Gavankar in 2013
BornJanina Zione Gavankar
(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980 (age 32)
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Years active2001–present
Height5' 7"

Janina Zione Gavankar (born November 29, 1980)[1][2][3] is an American actress and musician. 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 is known for her more notable roles as 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, and recently McKenna Hall on The CW's "Arrow".

Personal life[edit]

Gavankar was born in Joliet, Illinois to Pete and Mohra Gavankar. Her father, Pete Gavankar, was an Indian engineer who first traveled to the United States to pursue a master's degree. Her current boyfriend is a dental student living in Melbourne going by the name Duane.[7] Her mother, Shan-de-Mohra, emigrated to the US from India, and is half-Indian and half-Dutch.[8] Her father passed away in January 2012.[9]


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, shapeshifter Luna Garza on HBO's True Blood. She regularly appears in Funny or Die shorts[10] 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[11] 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 now-canceled ABC Television supernatural drama The Gates.[12] She appears on CW's Arrow as a former flame to Oliver Queen.

Gavankar is an admitted gamer[13] 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.[14] As of 2011 Gavankar has become a series regular in HBO's True Blood. She plays a public school teacher and shapeshifter named Luna Garza, who gets romantically involved with one of the main characters of the series.[15][16] Her indie movie Satellite of Love[17] premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2012, and her 2012 indie I'm Afraid of Virginia Wolf is currently in post production.[18] On December 20, 2012 Gavankar was the last person interviewed for the now cancelled Attack of the Show! which aired on G4 TV.

On August 3, 2013, it was announced that Gavankar landed a role as witch Tessa in the fifth season of The Vampire Diaries.[19]

Gavankar guest starred in the third season of the acclaimed sitcom Husbands.[20]


Gavankar has 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 also 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 San Francisco band Recliner's music video 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]


Gavankar claims to be the first actor to use Twitter, signing up on Richard Branson's computer on Necker Island in 2006.[28] Gavankar was the personification of Microsoft's interactive search engine Ms. Dewey[29] In 2011 she created a free template for actors and artists to help them control their online presence[30] 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.[31]


In 2008, Gavankar was nominated for an Asian Excellence Award.[32] In 2012, Gavankar received the Gravity Summit Award for Excellence in Social Media.[33]



  1. ^ "Janina Gavankar — Shape shifting Stunner". FHM. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  2. ^ "Stephen Moyer is Such A Proud Father". US Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-27. 
  3. ^ "Desi designer wear at Grammys red carpet". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2012-06-27. 
  4. ^ Nguyen, Bernie (2006-11-06). "Ask Janina". Nirali Magazine. pp. Arts. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  5. ^ Swartz, Shauna (January 4, 2007). "Interview With The L Word's Janina Gavankar". AfterEllen.com (Viacom International Inc.). Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  6. ^ "Recent Grads Find Success". UIC Alumni. September/October 2004. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  7. ^ http://www.rediff.com/movies/2007/sep/07sld1.htm
  8. ^ Khan, Natasha (2010-10). "Janina Gavankar: Actor. Musician. Geek". SAPNA Magazine. pp. Arts + Entertainment. 
  9. ^ When enjoying soft serve ice cream, thank Joliet man and his dream
  10. ^ Janina Gavankar's Funny or Die profile
  11. ^ Futon Critic Breaking News for 04/05/07
  12. ^ "'Prison Break' actor joins ABC's 'Gates'". Hollywoodreporter.com. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  13. ^ Janina Gavankar talks True Blood, Video Games & More on ATOS
  14. ^ "Epileptic Gaming's "Up All Night"". Wire.ggl.com. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  15. ^ "True Blood Promotes Jessica Tuck; Adds Three New Actresses". TVGuide.com. Retrieved November 29, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Janina Gavankar on Comic-Con, Playing a Shapeshifter, and Why She’d Totally Love to Watch True Blood with You - Exclusive - True Blood". Wetpaint.com. 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  17. ^ "Official Site of "Satellite of Love"". 
  18. ^ "IMDb page for "I'm Afraid of Virginia Wolf"". 
  19. ^ http://www.inquisitr.com/885542/true-blood-star-janina-gavankar-joins-the-vampire-diaries/
  20. ^ Raftery, Liz (August 14, 2013), Exclusive: CW's Web Series Husbands Adds Cast Members from True Blood, CollegeHumor, tvguide.com, retrieved August 14, 2013 
  21. ^ "Janina Gavankar - Love Lockdown". YouTube. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  22. ^ "Anokhi Sexy & Successful - Janina Gavankar". Anokhi Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  23. ^ "Ella Leya's "Wish I Could"". Youtube.com. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  24. ^ "Recliner's "Float Away"". Sausagefilms.com. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  25. ^ "Darunam's "All That's Beautiful Must Die"". Livevideo.com. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  26. ^ Premiere: Janina Gavankar "Waiting For Godot"
  27. ^ True Blood's Janina Gavankar: Exclusive Video Premiere
  28. ^ Janina Gavankar Cements Geek Cred on Attack of the Show!
  29. ^ "Spending time with Ms. Dewey". NPR Marketplace Tech. 2006-12-13. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  30. ^ "Janina Gavankar: 'True Blood' Shapeshifter Goes Posterous On Her Industry". Forbes. 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2011-011-05. 
  31. ^ Suits & Spooks anti-conference line up.
  32. ^ Asian Excellence Awards Nominee List
  33. ^ True Blood and Social Media Star Janina Gavankar to Receive Gravity Summit's Excellence in Social Media/Entertainment Award

External links[edit]