Posted Sept. 17, 2007 -- First thing you should know about Tawny Cypress. That is her real name.
"Tawny means golden brown, and "Cypress is a Native American tribe," says the New Jersey-bred actress who's part Native American. Really, I think my mom thought I was going to be a porn star."
Thankfully, she went the smut-free route and took her name and talent to Hollywood for real acting jobs. Her resume includes recurring roles on “Heroes,” “Third Watch,” and “All My Children.” Right now, she's playing a pistol-packing cop named Ginger "Love Tap" Lebeau on the Fox's “K-Ville,” the New Orleans-set drama starring Anthony Anderson. BET.com caught up with the 31-year-old beauty on her way home from the set to talk about what? Work. Here's what she had to share about the show, how Katrina reunited her with her father, and her character's interesting nickname.
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First things first, how's N'awlins?
The mood is hopeful and wonderful. I've talked to so many people that were moving back. There's a great determination here. And our cast is amazing, the camaraderie is amazing, too.
Your character is the 180-degree opposite from Simone in “Heroes.” What attracted you to this series?
The character. She's so cool and so very different than Simone. I like to do characters that are different from what I've done in the past. I've even done crack headed-prostitutes.
You play a hard-as-nails member of the post-Katrina New Orleans Police Department in "K-Ville." How did you prepare?
I did prep with the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department) and the SWAT Team, discussing tactics, how to hold the gun and make arrests. They keep trying to get me out there for real but I'm scaredy cat. We have an on-set consultant from the SWAT team who answers our questions.
OK, Ginger “Love Tap” Lebeau? What’s up with the nickname?
It's in reference to how tough she is. You know how you punch someone real hard and you call it a love tap? She's a hard girl. She's a tough chick, and it's fun to play different.
What can viewers expect from “K-Ville?”
It's a real buddy-cop show like you haven't seen in a while. The backdrop of New Orleans is a third character. It'll be a fun ride.
Are any of the story lines on the show based on real stories?
The subject matter is actual. In the pilot, you'll see an NOPD officer leaving his post. After Katrina, people left. A lot of it is unique to New Orleans. I mean it's a cop show, so you'll see cars flipping over in the French Quarter. The tourists got a thrill.
Here is a show, a high-profile show, built around a Black character. Share your thoughts on that.
It's a huge risk. But this a great vehicle for (Anderson). If you spent anytime with Anthony, you would see he is a very mayoral type of guy. He's very welcoming to everybody. This show is great for the city, great for African Americans. I'm glad Fox is behind it. I'm excited to be a part of it.
What does the show mean to you?
Being on a show like this is really awesome. My dad spent eight years in New Orleans. He lived by the Superdome. When Katrina hit, he wound up at the convention center. I hadn't spoken to him for years, as we were on bad terms. When I realized it, I started posting information about him. I found him, and he came back to Jersey. We have a great relationship now. He's seen his grandson (Tawny has a 7-year-old son). So, some good stories came out of Katrina. It was a special thing to support the city that supported my dad.
Besides success, what are you hoping people get from “K-Ville?”
This city has not recovered. But the heart is here. It's evidenced in everyone you talk to. We hired a lot of locals because the subject matter is very specific to New Orleans. Viewers will get a feel for what it's like down there. No BS. It's a stylized show, but it's going to be a great thing for this city.