Meet the actresses playing network TV’s new lesbian couple on “Rosewood”

Fox’s new hour-long drama Rosewood follows Morris Chestnut as Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., a private pathologist working in Miami, Florida. Like other medical specialists on TV before him, he’s got that something special—that way to see something different in a body or a case that helps to solve it, just in the nick of time (or the end of the episode). But what’s special about Rosewood is that the leading man’s team of major players includes his lesbian sister, Pippy (played by Gabrielle Dennis), and her fiancee, Tara Milly Izikoff or TMI, as she’s often called (Anna Konkle). 

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Pippy and TMI are Rosewood’s right-hand women; intelligent co-workers who are in love and have the support of their co-worker/Pippy’s big bro. Their mom (Lorraine Toussaint) is equally as supportive, which means the Rosewood family is a modern family we don’t often see on network TV.

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While the show is mostly focused on Rosewood and his partnership with new Miami PD member (and surely eventual love interest) Detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz), Pippy and TMI are part of the main cast and will have a part in every episode, including a storyline that details TMI’s family and their resistance to her relationship.

We talked with Gabrielle and Anna at TCA about their characters and why they are both so thrilled to be a part of a diverse show.

AfterEllen.com: How did you come to the show?

Gabrielle Dennis: When I first got a one-hour drama script, I’m like, “Medical drama, okay whatever. But the fact that my character gets to have fun and there’s all these light moments in the script, that made her exciting. And not once in the script did they reference them being lesbians. It never had to paint this picture or force anything on the audience or anything gratuitous. We’re just living, and that was my favorite part. I told [executive producer] Todd [Harthan], one of my favorite parts of the writing is you guys aren’t forcing that down our throats as, like, trying to make it a thing. We just happen to be smart women who work and this is who we are—we are in love. Our love is the first and foremost important thing about our storyline. I can’t wait to see what the pictures are painted of what happens when we go to get married and all the challenges we are going to face. Hopefully in a real way touch on some of those issues that are prevalent in our community. That, to me, spoke to the compassion our writers have, and because our writing staff is so diverse from gay, straight, male, female, Latina, black, white—it’s a rainbow writing room. I feel like every voice will be represented, is what we’re hoping, and so far they’ve done a good job of that, so that’s what makes me most excited because not being a lesbian in real life there’s that fear of taking on a role and not being able to represent it well, and to do a disservice, but I feel like because these are likable characters—these are likable people. They’re fun, they’re smart–and they are in love. That’s what I’m excited to see how that storyline grows and to really learn more about each other as individuals but also why we love each other the way we do, and why we fight the way we do, and why we make up the way we do, and all of that stuff.

Anna Konkle: I don’t usually go out for dramas. I think both of our backgrounds are more comedy. So I was like “Okay, I don’t know why I’m being sent an hour drama.” It doesn’t usually happen. Then it was sort of introduced that these women are smart, truthful in how they are—which lends itself to comedy, I always think. And it was exciting to play a smart woman in a loving relationship that also had its humanity and quirks. That’s my favorite stuff to do, is relationship—the woes and the high points and all of that of relationships. There’s the science and the cold cases, but when we finally got in a room together and did a chemistry read, to feel like an old couple, an old married couple who is bickering but out of love. 

 

AE: What was the chemistry read like?

GD: When we went in that room, when I tell you, let’s just say it was different but it sums it all up when we end our audition singing “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce. We improvised a whole performance like we were in there, kicking it. What I love is our issues are relatable in a sense that, one of the very first things you’ll notice in the pilot I say, “my–my wedding” she corrects me and says “OUR wedding.” It’s like, okay, so who’s the selfish one here kind of a thing. Everyone’s had those moments. I feel like there’s those moments where couples will watch and say “You’re more Pippy. You’re more TMI” Oh my gosh, we live that, and that’s what we want people to experience, because our next big thing is moving in with each other. And that whole dynamic, whether you’ve been in a long-term relationship or a short-term relationship, moving in together is a huge, huge step and that comes with its own array of colors of fun and drama and all of that. But what I like is its relatable, everyone knows someone whose gone through that if they haven’t gone through it themselves at least once. I think it helps paint this picture of familiarity so people that have issues with the LGBT community, this will help get them a little step closer. It’s kind of neutralizing. It’s like “Oh, that’s right; they’re lesbians—but they’re people first.” 

 

AE: Anna, I know your character’s parents aren’t so thrilled about the relationship.

AK: My side of the family is not comfortable with the relationship. I haven’t spoken to them in a couple years and me myself am familiar with—everyone has difficulty in feeling not accepted for certain reasons with friends or family or whatever, so I’m really excited the show is going there and I keep being washed with the feeling of wow, what a privilege to be playing a character in a community that’s been marginalized in mainstream media for so long.” The fact that we get to try our hand—it’s meaningful to me.

GD: They’re not portrayed as caricatures. In a relationship, you should feel like that’s your best friend. At the end of the day, we hope that’s what we portray on camera, that love shines through. That’s really what I think the through-line of our whole storyline is going to be about, everything that’s involved with being in love with someone. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s peaks, there’s valleys, but at the end of the day, what is the real foundation of that relationship?

AK: And it’s a strong through-line in the show, which is really cool.