Janina Gavankar is a popular American actress. She is famous for providing her voice to ‘FERO’, one of the lead characters in ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ promo event –‘Hunt the Truth’. Besides this, she has also acted in a number of films, web series, television programs, and theatrical plays. Her notable TV roles include Shiva on ‘The League’; Papi in ‘The L Word’, Luna Garza on ‘True Blood’, Meredith Bose on ‘The Mysteries of Laura’, McKenna Hall on ‘The CW's Arrow’ and Diana Thomas on ‘Sleepy Hollow’. Gavankar has also appeared on the shows ‘Dash 4 Cash’, ‘My Boys’, ‘Grey's Anatomy’, ‘NCIS’ and ‘Three Rivers’. Talking about her web work, she has acted in web series ‘Just Face It’, ‘The N&N Files’, ‘Husbands’, ‘Do's and Don't’, ‘The Q Side’ and ‘Squad 85’. The actress also regularly gets featured on ‘Funny or Die shorts’. The American actress is a musician as well, and is trained as vocalist, pianist, and orchestral percussionist. Formerly signed to the Cash Money Records Universal Records, she released the cover of Kanye West's track ‘Love Lockdown’. Apart from this, Gavankar has sung and played marimba for several movie and television scores. She once performed a percussion duet for ‘Best Buddies’ charity benefit. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Gavankar has also contributed to technology. She is known for developing a free template for Hollywood artists to help them manage their online presence.
Childhood & Early Life
Janina Gavankar was born as Janina Zione Gavankar on November 29, 1980 in Joliet, Illinois, USA. Her father Peter Ganesh was an engineer from Pune, Maharashtra. Her mother, Mohra Gavankar is half-Dutch and half-Indian. She has a sister named Sonya Gavankar who is a world famous journalist as well as the former Miss District of Columbia (1997).
She is a grandniece of documentary editor Sadanand Desai and sound recordist Mangesh Desai, and great grandniece of music composer/director Vasant Desai.
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Janina Gavankar started her acting career in 2001. She first appeared in ‘Why Is God’ followed by MGM’s ‘Barbershop’.
In 2006, she joined the cast of ‘Ms. Dewey’. A year later, she was offered the TV series ‘The L Word’ where she portrayed the character of Papi.
After this, she appeared in a number of television shows till 2009. The actress did ‘Shattered’, ‘Factory’, ‘My Boys’, ‘Stargate Atlantis’, ‘Grey's Anatomy’ and ‘NCIS’.
Then Gavankar got featured in the series ‘Dollhouse’, ‘The Cleaner’, ‘Three Rivers’ and ‘The League’ in 2009. She also provided her voice to the character of Nikki in the animated flick ‘Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey’ and did the independent movie ‘Indian Gangster’ that year.
Soon after this, she was cast as Shivakamini Somakandarkram for the television series ‘The League’ which ran from 2009–15.
In the year 2011, Gavankar became a part of several acting projects. She did the independent movies ‘The Custom Mary’, ‘Victory or Death’ and ‘Satellite of Love’. She got featured in the TV series ‘Traffic Light’, ‘The Exes’, ‘Attack of the Show’ and ‘True Blood’. The American actress also started doing work on ‘Funny or Die shorts’ that year.
The following year, she joined the team of the TV series ‘Arrow’, to play the role of Mckenna Hall.
In 2013, Gavankar acted as Qetsiyah/Tessa in the series ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and as Hannah in the series ‘The Goodwin Games’. That year, she also did a few web series namely ‘Just Face It’, ‘The N&N Files’ and ‘Husbands’.
A year later, the American multitalented star got featured in the TV series ‘Garfunkel and Oates’ as Dr. Sharma. She also began portraying the character of Meredith Bose on series ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ from that year onward till 2016.
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In the year 2017, Gavankar was cast as Diana Thomas in the TV series ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and as Gina in ‘Sidney Hall’.
Janina Gavankar contributed to the cover of Kanye West's track ‘Love Lockdown’. Besides this, she has played marimba and provided vocals for many film scores. She also got featured in the music videos of Ella Leya and San Francisco-based music group Recliner.
In 2011, she developed a free template for Hollywood people to help them control their presence on social media.
In 2012, Janina Gavankar lent her voice to various characters of the web series ‘Do's and Don't’. She also acted in the web series ‘The Q Side’ and ‘Squad 85’ that year. During that time, she released the single for her EP titled ‘Waiting for Godot’ as well.
In 2015, she lent her voice to ‘FERO’, one of the lead characters in ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ promo event –‘Hunt the Truth’. The same year, she also performed percussion duet at the Carnegie Hall for ‘Best Buddies’ charity benefit. Her music video ‘Don't Look Down-#JustAddDrumCorps Edition’ was also released during same year.
Awards & Achievements
Janina Gavankar was nominated for an ‘Asian Excellence Award’ in the year 2008.
In 2012, she was awarded with the ‘Gravity Summit Award’ under the category Excellence in Social Media.
Janina Gavankar played a lesbian character in the series ‘The L Word’ due to which there were speculations that the actress is lesbian. However, she dismissed the rumors and stated that she is a straight lady who is romantically interested only in men.
Gavankar was the first actor to use Twitter in 2006.
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She grew up playing piano and percussion.
Her father was best friends with Bollywood director and father of Bollywood actress Kajol, Shomu Mukherjee.
Her father and aunt produced Bollywood composer Rahul Dev Burman's only International album ‘Pantera’ in the year 1987.
In the early 2000s Janina Gavankar went to India with her father for shooting the Bollywood movie ‘Naam Mera Maria’. However, the flick was never released. The actress describes her experience regarding the movie as unusual as she can’t understand or speak Hindi.
The American actress always feels like she is so busy. However, she is highly active on many social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
She likes supernatural stuff. Her favorite supernatural show is 'Battlestar Galactica'.
She is obsessed with great designs, ranging from fashion to furniture.
During her college time in Chicago, Gavankar did a lot of advertisements and that was her “bread and butter” as stated by her.