Q&A Sessions: Gina La Piana

Q&A Sessions: Gina La Piana

by Rob Perez

Gina Martina La Piana is an actress, singer, and songwriter whose been heating up Hollywood for almost 20 years. While La Piana is famously considered as a “sexy Latina” there’s more to her than just looks. She’s also a producer in both film and music. Not only does La Piana help develop new talent, but she also has her hand in a variety of projects. How does La Piana do it? Read on and find out how one of the hardest working women in the industry does it all…and more!

nocheLatina: You’re from Brooklyn, but grew up in LA. Do you still have any Brooklyn traits in you?

Gina La Piana: I was born in Brooklyn, but raised in Corona, a city that’s one hour out of LA. I was 16 when I moved to LA and started acting. I was raised by my father, so I think I understand the male mind a lot more. I'm an animated person and speak with my hands, which could also be a passionate, Brooklyn trait.  Also, you'll never have to wonder what's on my mind because I'll be sure to tell you. Viva la Brooklyn.

nocheLatina: What is your cultural background?

Gina La Piana: My mother is Spanish/Puerto Rican and my father is Spanish/Italian.

nocheLatina: You’re father was a musician. Was he your biggest inspiration, music-wise?

Gina La Piana: My father has always been my biggest inspiration. He is a very gifted and talented musician. But to be honest, I never thought I would be doing music all these years later as my original intention was to be an actress.  But I'm not sure I had a choice (laughs). I think sometimes life decides for you. Anyway, my dad was in a rock ‘n’ roll cover band signed to Capitol Records.  He was the frontman/lead guitarist. He quit the music business to raise me, so I kind of feel like I am carrying on his legacy.

nocheLatina: You’ve been called a triple threat for being an actress, singer, and composer. Is it fair to say you consider yourself to be musician first, actress second, or the other way around?

Gina La Piana: I came to LA to be an actress. I fell in love with acting while watching Lucille Ball as a kid. I guess Desi Arnaz must have rubbed off on me too. I figured I could do both. Through Lucy I found a way to escape some of the challenges of my childhood. I found a sort of vacation from the noise. She became my role model. Seeing a woman in a place of power, being funny, and running a household was an inspiration. I wanted to be just like her. Many of us have day jobs on the way to our dreams. Mine happens to be music.

nocheLatina: What’s your musical background?

Gina La Piana: I grew up writing songs with my dad, so I consider myself to be a songwriter first. I am a lyricist, singer, producer, and nutball (laughs).  I've worked on numerous projects not listed on my resume. Some are even Barbie commercials you may have heard in passing. I wrote material for films, such as Opposite Day, Cinderella Part 2, Robosapien, and more. I released a pop album not too long ago and I'm producing a follow-up release now. My partners and I are also producing a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old for Warner Brothers Music. I'm putting out new electronic dance music as well.

nocheLatina: Do you remember watching a film or TV show and saying to yourself, ‘I want to do that.’

Gina La Pina: I hate to repeat myself, but ‘l Love Lucy.’ One of the first shows I tested for was Fox’s ‘I Love Lupe.’ I thought my dreams were going to come true, but the show was never shot, unfortunately.

nocheLatina: What musical projects are you currently working on for yourself?

Gina La Piana: My sophomore album is mostly acoustic. In September I'll be scoring a horror film just in time for Halloween.  Lastly, I'll be working on my electronic project/alter ego Gina Martin.

nocheLatina: You’ve been dubbed the ‘sexy Latina’ in some of your film and TV roles. Do you see this as a stereotype? Have you been offered roles that were blatantly stereotypical?

Gina La Piana: Absolutely. For the first part of my career I played hookers, maids, and women trying to get green cards. Now I've evolved to drug addicts, lesbians, and real tough cookies. One of the biggest moments of my career was bittersweet. It was on KTLA Channel 9.  They did a whole piece on me entitled ‘The Ethnic Challenge.’  It was a 15-minute story on my life that was angled about Latinos in the industry (laughs).

nocheLatina: What would be an ideal role for you?

Gina La Piana: Any role opposite Denzel Washinton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day Lewis, or Christian Bale (laughs). I think we all long to be challenged and stimulated. To make a difference. To create characters with heart, the underdog who comes from challenged beginnings and succeeds in the end. Those are some of the stories that excite and interest me.

nocheLatina: Please tell us about your most recent film, Audrey.

Gina La Piana: Audrey is a very unique and funny female-driven comedy. Taking place in real-time, the story takes us through a little over an hour and a half of a young woman's day as she waits in a restaurant for Gene, her date, to arrive for their critical third date. As the clock ticks away and Gene is nowhere to be found, 34 year-old Audrey is swept up into a journey through her life as her insecurities and inner demons comically wreak havoc on her. Forced to face her deepest fears by circumstance - both real and unreal - Audrey finds the strength and courage she never imagined she had. I play Audrey's impassioned loyal best friend Stacey.

nocheLatina: Can you tell us anything about the film you wrote and produced called Brit and Brazil? I understand you are playing a grittier role than you usually play?

Gina La Piana: It's about two sisters who find each other after a life-long separation. The deal is not solidified just yet, so I can't provide too many details at the moment. I'll have creative control on this one, so it will be thrilling to see how it unfolds.

nocheLatina: Where do you find the time to fit so many varied projects in your day?

Gina La Pina: I have great help. None of us can go on this road alone. It's about the people you surround yourself with that motivate and allow you to express who you are...to thrive. You can get a lot accomplished if you treat people with respect, gratitude, and love. Money always helps too (laughs).

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