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Janina Gavankar

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Janina Gavankar
Gavankar at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017
Janina Zione Gavankar

(1980-11-29) November 29, 1980 (age 43)
Occupation(s)Actress, musician
Years active2000–present

Janina Zione Gavankar (/əˈnnə ɡəˈvɑːŋkər/; born November 29, 1980)[1][2][3] is an American actress and musician. She is trained as a pianist, vocalist, and orchestral percussionist, and she majored in theatre at the University of Illinois Chicago.[4][5][6] Her roles include Eva “Papi” Torres on Showtime’s The L Word, Shiva on The League, Leigh Turner on The Gates, Luna Garza on HBO's True Blood, McKenna Hall on The CW's Arrow, and Diana Thomas on FOX's Sleepy Hollow. In marketing, she also played "Ms. Dewey", a personified search engine and virtual assistant for Microsoft.[7]

Early life[edit]

Gavankar was born in Joliet, Illinois, to Ganesh "Peter" Gavankar, an engineer from Mumbai, who first travelled to the U.S. to pursue a master's degree, and Shan Demohra "Mohra" Gavankar, of half-Indian and half-Dutch descent from Pune, who also emigrated there from India. [8]


Gavankar has acted in theatre, film, television, and online. Her most notable roles include Iden Versio, a canon Star Wars character and the protagonist of Star Wars: Battlefront II; shapeshifter Luna Garza in True Blood, 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.[citation needed] She regularly appears in Funny or Die shorts.[9]

In 2006, she joined the cast of The L Word as a series regular and shot all of the clips used for Ms. Dewey.[7] In 2007, she landed a lead role in the CW pilot, Dash 4 Cash.[10] In 2008, Gavankar appeared in the TV series Stargate Atlantis, Grey's Anatomy, 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 films, Men, Interrupted, Indian Gangster, and Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey. Gavankar provided the voice of Nikki in Quantum Quest. She landed another lead role in The Gates, since cancelled, on ABC.[11] She appears on CW's Arrow as a vice squad police officer and brief girlfriend to Oliver Queen.

Gavankar is an admitted gamer[12] 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.[13]

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.[14][15]

Her indie film, Satellite of Love,[16] premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2012, and her 2012 indie I'm Afraid of Virginia Wolf is currently in post-production.[citation needed] On December 20, 2012, Gavankar was the last person interviewed for the now cancelled Attack of the Show!, which aired on G4 TV.[citation needed]

On August 3, 2013, Gavankar landed a role as a witch named Qetsiyah in the fifth season of The Vampire Diaries.[citation needed] She guest starred in the third season of Husbands.[17]

In 2014, she starred as Amita in the video game, Far Cry 4.[18] She also played Detective Meredith Bose on The Mysteries of Laura from 2014 to 2016.[19]

She starred as Iden Versio, the main character in the campaign mode of the 2017 Electronic Arts video game, Star Wars Battlefront II.[citation needed]

In 2018, she appeared in two films. Blindspotting premiered at the Sundance Film Festival,[20] and The Vanishing of Sidney Hall was distributed by A24.[21]

In late 2019, Gavankar had a supporting role in the new Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show.

Starting in 2021, Gavankar had a starring role as the antagonist in seasons 2 & 3 of the ABC hit show, Big Sky, playing the sibling in a mafia family.


Gavankar returned to music with a cover of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown".[22] Gavankar's former all-female singing group, Endera, was signed to Cash Money Records Universal Records.[23]

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 films 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",[24] in the music video by San Francisco-based band Recliner for their single "Float Away",[25] as well as the music video for Manu Narayan's band Darunam.[26]

In August 2012, she released the single for her upcoming EP, entitled Waiting for Godot,[27] and in November, Billboard premiered the official music video.[28] It went on to win numerous film festival awards.[29][30]

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.[31]

On May 20, 2015, Gavankar performed a percussion duet at Carnegie Hall with Questlove for the Best Buddies charity benefit.[32]


Gavankar was the first actress to use Twitter, signing up on Richard Branson's computer on Necker Island in 2006.[33][34]

Gavankar was the personification of Microsoft's interactive search engine Ms. Dewey.[7][35]

In 2011, she created a free template for actors and artists to help them control their online presence[36] 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.[37]

In 2017, she launched a private discussion forum for members of the games industry.[38]

In 2018, she produced the first narrative film to use the Arri Alexa LF.[39]

Gavankar is a first-round investor in ClassPass.[40]


In 2008, Gavankar was nominated for an Asian Excellence Award.[41] In 2012, Gavankar received the Gravity Summit Award for Excellence in Social Media.[42]



Year Title Role Notes
2000 Forward Anticipation in Chicago Corrin Short film
2001 Why Is God... Mina Short film
2002 Barbershop Fine Woman
2003 Dark Kaya
2004 Barbershop 2: Back in Business Field Reporter
2005 Just Speak Melody Short film
Cup of My Blood Iona
2008 Shattered! Maria
2009 Indian Gangster Geeta Short film
2010 Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Niki Voice
Men, Interrupted Cece Twain Short film
2011 The Custom Mary Ms. Rime
Victory or Death Selah Short film
2012 Satellite of Love Michelle
2013 Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf? Katia Amour / The Stud
The Final Moments of Karl Brant Detective Hostetler Short film
2014 Code Academy Madame Counselor
Think Like a Man Too Vanessa
2016 Pee-wee's Big Holiday Party Guest
2017 The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Gina
2018 Blindspotting Val
The White Orchid Tina
2019 Stucco J Short film
Also director, writer and producer
2020 The Way Back Angela
2021 Encounter Piya
2024 Borderlands Commander Knoxx Post-production
TBA Cortex Sama Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2004 Strong Medicine Nurse Juni Episode: "Omissions"
2007–2009 The L Word Eva "Papi" Torres 12 episodes
2008 My Boys Terri Episode: "The Transitioning"
Stargate Atlantis Sergeant "Dusty" Mehra Episode: "Whispers"
Grey's Anatomy Intern Lisa 2 episodes
2009 NCIS Angela Lopez Episode: "Caged"
Dollhouse Lynn Episode: "Epitaph One"
The Cleaner Usha Patel 2 episodes
Three Rivers Ada Rahimi Episode: "Place of Life"
2009–2015 The League Shiva 10 episodes
2010 The Gates Leigh Turner 13 episodes
2011 Traffic Light Alexa 3 episodes
2011–2013 True Blood Luna Garza 25 episodes
2012 The Exes Kerry Episode: "My Dinner with Phil"
Choke.Kick.Girl: The Series Katie Episode: "Hammerfist, Knee, Guillotine Fiend"
2013 Love Is Dead Marisol Rajagopal Television film
Arrow Detective McKenna Hall 4 episodes
The Goodwin Games Hannah Episode: "The Birds of Granby"
Just Face It Ava Miniseries
Husbands Kajal Episode: "I Dream of Cleaning"
The Vampire Diaries Qetsiyah / Tessa 4 episodes
2014 Nikki & Nora: The N&N Files Lea Sadina 4 episodes
Garfunkel and Oates Dr. Sharma Episode: "Third Member"
2014–2016 The Mysteries of Laura Meredith Bose 38 episodes
2015 The History of Us Sabrina Television film
2017 Sleepy Hollow Diana Thomas[43] 13 episodes
2018 Hell's Kitchen Herself (guest) Episode: "Stars Heating Up Hell"
2019 Relics and Rarities Mumeé 2 episodes
You're The Worst Rachel Episode: "Zero Eggplants"
Better Things Nikki 2 episodes
2019–2021 The Morning Show Alison Namazi 15 episodes
2020 Space Force Hannah Howard Episode: "Edison Jaymes"
2020–2022 The Mighty Ones Kensington Voice, 29 episodes
2021–2022 Big Sky Ren Bhullar 18 episodes
2022 The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window Meredith 2 episodes[44]
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Pav-ti Voice, episode: "Life and Death"[45]
2023 Never Have I Ever Akshara Episodes: "...wrecked my future" and "...gone to prom"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Far Cry 4 Amita
2017 Horizon Zero Dawn Tatai Also The Frozen Wilds DLC
Star Wars Battlefront II Iden Versio Voice and motion capture
2019 Afterparty Lola
2022 God of War Ragnarök Sinmara Largely cut from the game's storyline; present in files[46]
2023 Forspoken Tanta Sila Voice and motion capture[47]
2023 Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Freddie
Alan Wake II Agent Estevez [48]


Year Title Role Notes
2017 Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad Narrator[49]
2019 Randomize: Forward[50] Short story

Crew work[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2020 The Mandalorian Assistant Puppeteer[51] Uncredited
Episode: "Chapter 11: The Heiress"


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  41. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
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