MTV recently premiered its new series Finding Carter. The series follows Carter, a young girl who has a perfect life with her single mother Lori, until a police bust at a party reveals that Lori had abducted Carter as a child. Now, Carter returns to her biological family and must navigate through her new life whilst vowing to be reunited with Lori. The character of Lori is played by the multi-talented Milena Govich.
Milena should be no stranger to fans of film, television and theater. She’s had successful runs on Broadway in shows such as Cabaret and The Boys from Syracuse. On television, she starred on series such as Conviction, Rescue Me and K-ville. As Detective Nina Cassady, she was the first and only female detective on the original Law & Order. On the big screen she has appeared in films such as Sordid Things and A Novel Romance.
Today Milena sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk with us about her new series Finding Carter, her work on Law & Order and the advice she would give to up and coming actors.
Pop Culture Principle – You are currently starring on the series Finding Carter. Can you tell us what the show is about?
Milena Govich – Finding Carter follows a 16 year old girl who has been raised by her single mom. They are best friends, do everything together and are extremely happy. Carter gets arrested for something silly with her friends and they discover that she was actually kidnapped when she was three years old. So, the mother that she has always known and loved is actually her kidnapper. She is sent back to live with her biological family whom she has never met or ever heard of. The show focuses on her struggle to assimilate into the new family or escape back to her mom.
Pop Culture Principle – What drew you to this particular project?
Milena Govich – The whole mystery behind the kidnapping and the why and the how is kind of the subtext of the whole premise of the show. These are just exciting circumstances for an actor to play. We don’t get opportunities to portray characters as complicated as this very often. It’s so much fun for me as an actor.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you do any kind of research or any particular preparation for this role?
Milena Govich – Kind of, I mean I myself am not a mom, so I spent a lot of time with my nieces and nephews. You can just imagine what that responsibility would feel like. As far as the kidnapping part, not a lot of research you can do on that aspect.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you think Lori has any sympathy or any guilt when it comes to Elizabeth not being with Carter for so long?
Milena Govich – I don’t think Lori and Elizabeth really have any kind of relationship. Sure, when you know you’ve done something horrible to another person, you feel bad. The way I choose to play it is that I feel justified in why I did what I did. I love this child and I am giving her a great life. Anyone would be lucky to have the life that Carter has with me. This is the thing about acting; you have to make your choices from the character’s point of view. My job is to really make everything believable. A crazy person never believes that they are crazy. They always feel justified in what they do or say, so that’s how I play it.
Pop Culture Principle – What is great about this show is that there is nothing else on television like Finding Carter. Would you agree?
Milena Govich – Totally. I’ve never seen any show like this before. These relationships are so complicated and so twisted. The things that happen are just mind blowing. It’s so much fun to get a new script every time because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Pop Culture Principle – Is there a message you would like people to take away from Finding Carter?
Milena Govich – If there is any take away, it’s to be open to new people and new experiences. Don’t hold on to your judgments about people and circumstances in spite of everything else. Listen, don’t be afraid to love and keep an open mind.
Pop Culture Principle – What people may not know is that you are an accomplished singer and dancer. You’ve starred in several Broadway plays such as Cabaret, The Boys from Syracuse and Good Vibrations. What is it like for you to be on stage?
Milena Govich – Being on stage is exhilarating. The experience between performer and audience is immediate. It’s a real, living artistic experience. You are feeding off of each other because the audience is right there with you so it’s really quite magical.
Pop Culture Principle – Would you be interested in going back to Broadway in the near future?
Milena Govich – Absolutely! I still do perform out here in LA on a regular basis with a group called For the Record. We perform at different venues here in Los Angeles. I sing, I dance and play instruments. It’s the thing that reminds me why I love what I do. I love film and television work as well. Working on camera, you have to be so specific and so detailed. You can’t get away with anything because the camera sees everything; that is also very exciting for me to work that way. Just the exuberance that I have when I am on stage, there is nothing like it.
Pop Culture Principle – One of your first television jobs was on the short lived series Love Monkey? How did you get that job and how was the experience?
Milena Govich – That was such a fun show to work on. Working with Tom Cavanaugh was such a treat. He is such a spontaneous actor and so smart and funny. We would come up with stuff on the fly and just try different things. It was a very creative, exciting show to be a part of.
Pop Culture Principle – You were part of another great short lived series called Conviction playing ADA Jessica Rossi? How did you prepare for that role?
Milena Govich – I loved that show. That one was really exciting and it was my first really big network TV show. We as a group met and hung out with a lot of young assistant district attorneys who were working downtown in New York. We also spent time with people in the public defender’s office to get both sides. They have these really intense jobs, but they also need to let off some steam. It’s the work hard, play hard mentality of New York City. That is frankly one of the reasons why I moved to New York City when I was right out of school. I love the buzz in the air in New York City. For me to portray the people that are really making things happen there was really exciting.
Pop Culture Principle – Your character had an interesting relationship with Jim Steele throughout the shows run, but in the final episode, Potter told you his one regret was not asking you out. If that show had continued, how did you see that possible love triangle playing out?
Milena Govich – I was hoping for a big, juicy love triangle! It’s tough to say where they would have taken it had we continued, but I have a feeling something like that would have been in the works if we had a second season. One of the things that was so disappointing about that particular show ending is that we were the first network TV pilot to ever be offered for free as a download on iTunes. We were the number one iTunes download for weeks, but that was so new, no one was looking at that in the ratings. Had they factored in that online viewership, we certainly without a doubt would have had a second season.
Pop Culture Principle – You have an interesting story about how you were hired for the cast of Law & Order. Can you tell us about that?
Milena Govich – Law & Order had the same producers as Conviction and of course was on the same network. They came to me and offered me Law & Order the day after Conviction was cancelled.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you feel any pressure or have any concerns taking the part knowing you were joining such a storied series and also being the first and only female detective?
Milena Govich – Oh sure. Before I joined the show, that role was Jerry Orbach and Dennis Farina. We all knew going in that it was going to be an experiment. It’s tough to change up a show that’s been running so long and so successfully with a specific formula. I was game and I like taking risks. There is no such thing as security and certainty in my world. When presented that opportunity, I knew it was going to be tough. They didn’t know quite how they were going to execute it and I didn’t know quite how it was going to go, but there was no way I could turn down that opportunity. It was a very cool challenge.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell about your time on the series K-ville?
Milena Govich – That show was amazing. We were down in New Orleans just a year after Katrina happened, so it was still pretty rough. I was really proud to be a part of a show that was trying to tell those stories post Katrina. I lived down there for the time that we were doing it and it was amazing to meet people and hear their stories of what they had gone through. I worked with Habitat for Humanity when I had down time from set and it was extraordinary. I was really proud that we were telling stories and bringing jobs to that area when they so desperately needed it.
Pop Culture Principle – You had a great run on the FX series Rescue Me. How was that experience?
Milena Govich – That was just me hanging out with my brothers. It was such a cool, fun and relaxed set. Everyone was so collaborative and hilarious. I think that comes across in the show and you can see the comradery just jump off the screen. That is all real. I think that kind of relationship you can’t fake it and on Rescue Me it was real. Everybody was working so hard to make the show good and we were all proud of what we did. John Scurti was so funny and he has such a big heart.
Pop Culture Principle – What advice would you give to up and coming actors?
Milena Govich – Acting as a career can be one of the most gratifying as well as the most infuriating things you can do with your life. There is so much rejection and so much harshness on the business side of it. If you feel that it is your calling and your passion, don’t let anybody tell you no. Get the training that you need, seek out mentors, get guidance and then just give with your whole heart.
Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Milena Govich – Well, we are still shooting Finding Carter. I am going back and forth to Atlanta filming that and doing more press when that wraps. Some other things coming up, so stay tuned.
We would like to thank Milena for taking the time to talk with us. Make sure you tune in for new episodes of Finding Carter every Tuesday on MTV at 10/9c. If you would like to keep up with Milena’s career, please take a look at the links below.