Gabrielle Dennis has been around the entertainment business for a while, but most recently she can be seen as the amazing Pippy on FOX’s ‘Rosewood.’ Previously Gabrielle has been seen on ‘The Game’ and ‘Blue Mountain State.’ Gabrielle is a multi-talented artist. Her skills range from stand-up comedy, to writing and producing, to singing and acting. Read our interview below where we discuss her role of Pippy, being able to sing on the show and her great appreciation of her fans!
How does it feel to be Morris Chestnut’s little sister?
Oh. It’s flattering when you’re considered attractive enough to be his sister. (laughs) Growing up watching him over the years and being familiar with his career it’s just really fun to work with him. He’s just a really cool, humble, down to earth guy. He’s a great example in this business, this TV world, and it’s fun to go on this journey with him. It’s kind of new for him to be leading this TV show. We’re all having a lot of fun.
What initially interested you in playing Pippy?
I love that the script was a good hybrid of drama and comedy. I come from a comedic background so when I got to go out and audition for a 1-hour show I didn’t know initially what to expect. The fact that this show could be funny and light, and still have some real moments, that’s what interested me. Playing this smart girl, in this very exciting field, and being part of this very strong family who’s also very well-educated. All of those elements were tied in. Also being part of the same-sex relationship, that the show didn’t make a big hoopla about. Demonstrating that these women exist, this is who they are; there was no big fuss made about that. I liked that.
The characters didn’t exist just because they were in a same-sex relationship. They’re smart women who represent a group of women in our country that we live and work amongst and that we love. That excited me, to be able to represent that whole spectrum of that type of women. Smart, family oriented, loves hard, fights hard. Those kinds of things. And she’s funny.
I love the family aspect of the show.
Yeah, it’s one of my favorites for sure.
Before being an actor, were you ever interested in science stuff, like Pippy?
No! (laughs). That’s one thing I admire so much about Pippy, the fact that she is so super smart in that area. I’ve never been a big science girl, to that extent. I’ve always loved like chemistry and biology class, where I got to dissect things, but at my core, I’ve always been an artist.
I went to a performing arts school, so those studies were always the most interesting to me and what took up most of my time. But if I hadn’t attended that type of school, if that hadn’t been my path, science and that kind of field would have been of interest to me. I’ve never had any aspirations to do anything in that area because it seemed very hard. (laughs) That’s why I admire the characters on our show.
It’s a very specific field, and it’s not one you meet very often. It’s a fascinating choice, it’s very necessary area, it’s a very intense and detail oriented type of career. But no, I’ve never had an interest in science per say. But that’s the beauty of being an actor; you can be a smart toxicologist without ever having to pick up a book. (laughs).
Was it hard to learn the phrases of speech that comes with playing a toxicologist?
Yeah. Learning how to pronounce the words is one thing. Learning how to pronounce them, so they sound like words you’ve said before is another. (laughs) That I think is the hardest thing, finding that rhythm, saying them in paragraphs and not letting them stick out. I believe that the most difficult part is making everything sound fluid and natural with your own speech pattern. Whenever you get those lines, you cringe. There are always ones that trip somebody up. It’s actually kind of funny when we’re filming, cause someone will get that one word and it’ll take several takes sometimes. It makes the job interesting.
I loved Pippy and Tara’s relationship last season, and we haven’t seen much of it this season. What do you miss most about that relationship?
I miss them being just best friends, and always having each other’s back. Just that dynamic and that love. Sometimes you don’t have to speak on it; it’s just there. I think that was just organic with the two of them. It was just that magic that happened in the lab, and the Pippy and TMI love were part of that. With Pippy being absent that’s kind of off. There is something amiss in the lab. And just from an actor standpoint, I love Anna Konkle who plays TMI, and we have so much fun. I miss her!
We don’t have as many scenes as we used to. But I also think that makes for more compelling television in the sense that the more people see them apart, the more people will want them together.
I love that you’ve gotten to sing on the show, and they’ve created a storyline for it.
You have a great voice! How special is it for you to be able to sing on the show?
Thank you! It was such an out of nowhere, unexpected, amazing surprise that I couldn’t be happier with. I’m so glad that Todd Harthan, our creator, decided to take that chance and that it was something he wanted to add to the show. He knew that I have a background in stand-up comedy and singing, and he wanted to incorporate that into the show and the character.
At first, I thought it was just going to be a one or two episode thing, and then this season it became this huge part of her story line. It’s amazing. It’s great when you have a vision of a character you sign on for, and then you get a little Christmas gift, and it’s something you get to share with everyone. To be able to have this job that I love and still get to dip my toe in singing and going to the studio is a lot of fun.
And then the response from the fans, who have loved every song we’ve done, that is a total dream. People keep loving it and following that storyline and buying the singles from iTunes. Being a part of that is fun. If you sing, and that’s something you’ve always wanted to do, this is an excellent way to make that dream a reality. It’s very fun.
How much input do you get to put into which songs you sing?
The very first time I sang on the show, they were explaining to me the type of scene and type of song that they had in mind. They were looking for something very bluesy with some jazz to it. And I said ‘Oh my gosh, I have the perfect song. Have you ever heard of Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore?’ And that ended up being the very first thing I sang for the show. So that kind of input was really cool.
When we do some of the cover songs, they’ll send me a list of songs and links to the songs and have me choose which one of those I’m feeling more than the others. They’ll narrow it down like that and then ask me which one I like. There is definitely a marriage of ideas, and I love that they’re allowing me to have some input. Instead of saying ‘Hey! Sing this song!’ It’s cool to have that kind of communication and support. I love my job. And I love everybody there. It’s really great.
It seems unique for you to be able to pick which songs you like.
Yeah! With the original songs, there is no need for me to have input because they are so great at writing them. Every time they write one they write it specifically for the episode. Specifically for a scene or moment, Pippy is going through.
One of my favorite songs right now is Moving On. There is an acoustic version and an instrumental version of that. It was just about what Pippy was feeling. She wants to move on from the hurt and the pain of her past relationship and find her next place in life. Things like that are just amazing. So when it comes to the original stuff I just throw my hands up and say ‘Whatever you guys write, it’s gonna be amazing.’
You are very active on social media. What do you enjoy most about being so connected with the fans?
It’s kind of like you’re talking with your best friends. (laughs). I call everyone my peeps. I love social media in the sense that you can get in touch with everyone and the fact that people appreciate it. Like when I see that people love to see what’s going on, love to see behind the scene elements, the love when we live tweet when the show is on. It’s exciting. We’re doing the show for the fans, so why not interact with the fans? As long as they’re communicating with me, I want to keep going.
As a fan, we appreciate it.
(laughs) No, we appreciate it! Every TV show and movie and album that’s done, is done for the fans. It gives the artists a way to feel the love; we can feel that love. It makes our jobs seem that much more remarkable and extraordinary. We get to go to work knowing that there are people out there looking forward to this episode every week. We get to talk to these people. And they get to talk about the things that they love or the things that they miss. Being able to interact is a very exciting element of being a part of a show in this day in age. I love it. I love every second of it.
I’ve noticed in many of your bios that you are into writing and producing. What about those two things excites you the most?
The funny thing is I majored in TV production, so part of my dream when I was in college was to open my own production company and have my own production studio. I wanted to create content that was family oriented, and that was women driven, and things that were safe for families to sit down and watch together. Or things that would empower women. That’s kind of where that comes from.
To get to the point, I am now; you go through a lot of things. And you start to think about the stories you want to see and the characters you would like to play. Or things you would want to create for your friends to showcase their talents. If I want to do something in the realm of the supernatural, or if I want to do something historical, I can do that. There are just so many different types of stories that I would like to do. Also, when you’re on a television show, you’re limited. I’d love to pin some things in the future that would fulfill me in that aspect. I’d just like to tell stories. Even if I’m not in it, I just want to tell the story.
I live to jump on projects and help produce them. That’s something of interest to me, to do something more than the short film, or indie films I’ve done. I also know things happen in their own time. When the time is right, I know it will be a very special project, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
Last but not least, what makes you nerdy?
I would say, being nerdy is staying in a lane that may or may not necessarily be popular. You just kind of walk to the beat of your own drum and you do things that make you happy. I would say that the things that make me nerdy are the things that I like to do to blow off steam or for fun, that typically as an adult isn’t considered. For me, a good time is karaoke with my friends or having a game night.
I have a very childlike enjoyment when it comes to doing things for fun. (laughs). Like doing escape rooms, where you have to solve all the clues to get out. For me, that’s like Whoo! A great Saturday for me. Being nerdy to me is being proud of what you like and making no apologies for it.
Catch Gabrielle and the rest of the Rosewood cast Thursday at 8/7 CT!
*Featured Image Photo Credit: Kawai Matthews