Interview: Kearran Giovanni
Currently airing the second half of its fifth season, Major Crimes is back with all new episodes and all new crimes. One of the more interesting characters in the series is Amy Sykes, played by the wonderful Kearran Giovanni.
After five seasons, there is still a lot that we don’t know about Amy and her background. What we do know is that she has no problem breaking down doors and has become an important member of the Major Crimes team.
We sit down to talk with Kearran about the recent death of one of the Major Crimes characters, will we learn more about Sykes’ background and what fans can look forward to with the final episodes of the fifth season of Major Crimes.
Pop Culture Principle – When did you find out about that Chief Russell Taylor was going to be killed off and what was your initial reaction to the news?
Kearran Giovanni – We literally found out a couple of days before the read through. It was just a shock for all of us on the team and also because of social media, they didn’t want any news of this character’s death to get out. We were told individually and then we spoke to him during the read through and said our goodbyes and worked through the rest of the episode with him.
It was a shocker and we all know why because it’s a television show and people come and go. Your right brain tells you that this is normal and that’s how it works. We’d gotten very close and I enjoyed having him on the show and really respected him as an actor and as a human being. It’s tough not to see him all the time, but we still keep in touch and he’s off doing wonderful things.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to work with Robert Gossett?
Kearran Giovanni – He is such a phenomenal actor. It’s easy to fall into the mold of I’ve done that before, it’s a procedural and it’s a cop show. He always took chances and always did what he thought was right for the character. He always took it from an artistic point of view as opposed to a robotic character. He really added his own personality to his character and I respected him for that. He was always so gracious and doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. I really enjoyed working with him.
Pop Culture Principle – We have had bits and pieces of Sykes backstory. Will we get to learn more about her past in the near future?
Kearran Giovanni – Jit’s funny because the creator of the show James Duff and I have talked about it and I do know some things about Amy and where she comes from. Honestly, I think the wonder of it is what makes people tune into your character. It’s funny to make up your own story, but sometimes the fantasy is a little more exciting than the truth. We’ve talked about a few things like what her parents might have done and why she joined the military. I would love to show where she came from, but I just show up and do what they tell me.
It would be fun to know about her parents who were very upper-middle class, hard working parents. You don’t see a lot of African American parents on television and I would love for that to be shown. James Duff and the writers always put a positive light on her life and leave out the stereotypes that you see sometimes on television.
Pop Culture Principle – Things seem to be heading in the right direction as far as Amy’s professional life, but no so much in her personal life. Would you agree?
Kearran Giovanni – It’s kind of hard because I have always played these characters that don’t want kids, don’t want to get married and are career driven. I would love for her to have a love life and find that, but there is a reason that it’s not there because you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I do want to know her backstory and I want her to move up and I want that social life for her, but it will take away from where I think she is headed. I mean, Raydor has done it and we will just have to see if it can work out for Sykes.
Pop Culture Principle – Amy Sykes seems like the type of person who has her career mapped out. Does she see herself in Sharon Raydor’s office in the future?
Kearran Giovanni – Absolutely! She didn’t leave the military for any other reason than to move up quickly and she does everything she can to make that happen. Now, does she detour a little bit and go off the rails a little bit? Yes, but it’s all for the greater good. She wants to move up quickly and that’s why she doesn’t want to have kids and she’s not really keen on getting married because it will just sidetrack her away from the path that she has laid out for herself. She wants to win some medals, she wants to be the youngest to move up the ladder and be the most decorated officer in the department.
Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, how do you enjoy the multi-episode arcs as opposed to the stand- alone episodes?
Kearran Giovanni – I love the arcs and I know this sounds completely ridiculous, but it’s easier for us to follow. If it’s easier for you to follow, clearly, it’s easier for us to follow because we know the beginning, the middle and the end. We love getting to know our guest stars also. Sometimes they come in and we get really close after seven days and then they leave and we kind of keep in touch. But for us, it’s nice to really get to know them and get to know their character over several episodes. I really love the multi-episode arcs.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve played the character of Amy Sykes for several seasons. How protective are you of that character?
Kearran Giovanni – I’m really protective of her only because there are so many similarities between Amy and myself and in a way, it’s very natural for me to do that for her. When you first come in, not that you don’t take direction later on, but you take a lot of direction that you don’t know because you haven’t created anything yet. You have what is in your brain, but you haven’t acted on it.
Now, in Season 5 and Season 6, I know her and having guest directors coming in and wanting to try something with this character, I just let them know that I don’t really think that she would do this and there is an integrity to what you’ve created. Those times are really far and in between and everyone we work with really knows what they are getting into. It’s another reason we use a lot of the same directors because they really follow the stories and know our characters backwards and forwards.
I am very much Provenza because if you sit in my chair, I may pull the chair out from under you. Sometimes we have these guest stars come on and they will be at my chair and I’ll just tell them that it’s Sykes chair and desk. There are twenty other chairs in the murder room and that’s my chair. I have a rubber band ball that she made, a have a mug and a little man that she made in Afghanistan, so that’s Syke’s chair!
Pop Culture Principle – One of the recent storylines involving Sykes was the one with Mark Hickman. They seemed to have an interesting relationship. Can you talk a bit about that and also what it was like to work with Jason Gedrick?
Kearran Giovanni – We had such great chemistry. He is coming back for one or two episodes, I can’t remember the exact number. We had such a great time working together and he’s such a great actor and just a great guy. It’s nice just to have a story that you really have a personal investment in. She took a risk the first time and she may or may not have been burned. He comes back and she takes another risk and she may or may not get burned again. That’s where the tension lies because you never know whether he’s good or bad and she doesn’t know if he’s good or bad, but she really wants to believe that everyone is good. She does have that in her and he’s just the perfect vehicle for that. I would love to work with Jason forever. I’d love to do a spin-off called Sykes and Gedrick! LOL!
Pop Culture Principle – How does it feel to have your own group of fans known as Amy’s Army?
Kearran Giovanni – I am so flattered! To have this group of fans, I would have never expected it. It’s super cool and it’s also cool to think that your kids think you have an ounce of cool in you. It’s great when I am on a plane and a thirteen-year-old girl comes up to me and tells me she loves the show and loves my character. I hope there are other young adults who watch the show and think that you can be a respected female in a pretty male dominated world. I just think it’s really awesome.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you see yourself writing or directing episodes in the near future on Major Crimes?
Kearran Giovanni – I would love to direct and I am actually going to be trailing one of our directors Michael Robin before our first episode of next season. I love acting and will do that forever, but I would love to direct. Our show is known as a great training ground for directors. If I could learn around a group of my peers that would help me and are so supportive, that would be amazing. I would love to and we shall see!
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with Sykes and the series in the upcoming second half of the season?
Kearran Giovanni – Hmm, there is going to be a little bit of a power struggle in Major Crimes. Jon Tenney is back and there is a battle for the Chief’s office. A lot is going to happen and we can’t wait for the fans to see it. Hold on to your pants!
You can catch all new episodes of Major Crimes every Wednesday night at 9/8c only on TNT. We would like to thank Kearran for taking time to talk with us about the series. If you would like to keep up with all of Kearran's latest news and projects, you can follow her official Twitter account @KearranGiovanni or you can like her official Facebook page here.
**Photos courtesy of Darren Michaels/TNT**