When you grow up in a creative family, you get to try your hand at a number of things to find out what works for you. Gia Mantegna grew up in the industry and has been acting since she was a kid, is a singer and in addition to her roles, can say that she has been able to spend quality time on set as a fellow actor with her dad, Joe Mantegna in the nail-biting series, Criminal Minds.
We sat down with Gia to talk about how she got into acting, what it's like to be on Criminal Minds, playing dramatic characters with a twist, her new show that is available now on CW Seed, what's going on with her music and some of her go to places in LA as well as when she's here in NYC.
ATHLEISURE MAG: When did the acting bug hit you?
GIA MANTEGNA: I started acting at a really young age in school. I think I was about 11 when I started theater and that’s kind of where I got the bug. I had obviously grown up in the business
because my dad is an actor.
AM: We’re huge fans of him!
GM: Yeah, yeah me too! Growing up around that environment and being in that industry it was just something that was second nature to me. And I was like, "when is it my turn?" Being the second born child and always wanting attention, I was known for having this personality and having a need to be heard. The only outlet for that was to sing and to perform - so that’s how it started. Then after doing theater, I started working in film and going to TV and auditioning. It hasn’t stopped yet – knock on wood.
AM: What are some of the roles that you have been in?
GM: My first big gig was a Christmas film called Unaccompanied Minors which was a film directed by Paul Feig. He did Bridesmaids, The Heat, Ghostbusters (Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy) etc. That was my introduction into really working in Hollywood. It was such a great experience working with Paul and the cast. That was a fun role for me and I have done a lot of
spots on TV.
I’m really drawn to the darker roles naturally. I am a positive person, but I love those really weird roles. I did a role on Perception where I played this girl who swallowed knives and it was a strange one, but I loved it. Now comedy is where things are going for me which I also love because it’s harder and comedic timing is hard to do. The dramatic roles come easier to me but
comedy is where I am falling into and where the world is going, it’s nice to laugh a little bit.
AM: How much has your father been an influence on your roles and how has it been also appearing on Criminal Minds with him?
GM: YES oh my gosh. I can’t watch Criminal Minds – I live alone with a cat!
AM: When we travel, it’s always on as a marathon and we get sucked in, but we have to have a buddy and the lights on to watch it!
GM: Oddly enough, I never worked with him on the show. When I first auditioned for the show, I was 17 there was a different actor playing my father and I never had any scenes with him. Then one day, the writers came to me with an idea where my character came back with Aubrey Plaza’s character as they wanted two strong female characters to come back to shake up the
team. Aubrey and I came out to do it and I didn’t have any good dialogue with my dad, but there was this scene where he pointed a gun at me which was really exciting as that is always fun to work with a family member holding a gun in your face. I mean when is that going to happen? Hopefully not. But it was great because I have worked on a number of shows, but Criminal Minds – that cast is such a tight-knit group, they’re a family. They get along and it’s
been running for so long which is a testament to how great it is to be able to step into that show for a few weeks. It was the greatest gig in the world and to be able to hang out with my dad for a bit. The character was fun too as she was psychotic!
AM: Tell us about CW Seed and how we can watch it?
GM: A lot of networks have digital platforms as I think that they are trying to compete with Netflix and things like that. CW Seed (shows you can catch: Riverdale, Original Dynasty) is CW’s answer to that. It’s their digital platform where they create new media and they also run shows that have already been out on the website. You can watch on their website or their app.
Our show, Life After First Failure has myself and Breanne (who plays my best friend on the show), we received the script and we loved that there were two strong female characters
shaking things up – we fell in love with it. We did 3 episodes in Portland and CW Seed ended up breaking it up into 6 episodes - to make it more palatable for the audience.
The way it seems to be going is that it’s all about quick easy content for quick gratification. At first, I was a little disappointed, but it’s the way that things are going now. I like longer episodes, but the younger generation is easily bored and when they’re bored, you lose your audience. But the character was so much fun to play and it was different and new. Honestly, it was one of my favorite people to play.
AM: Is there a second season coming out?
GM: In a perfect world, yes – the hope was that the network would see that there was a strong response to it – but they’re kind of new. So a lot of it has been left to us and social media has really helped in terms of campaigning for the show. We definitely want to come back to do more episodes – right now we’re not sure so we want people to watch and tweet to request more episodes.
AM: We know that you are also a singer can you tell us about how you started that and what your plans are?
GM: I was always singing at a young age. My parents threw me into everything soccer, piano, saxophone etc. Singing stuck with me – my sister and I took lessons at a very young age. Both of my parents have a musical background and it was just one of those things that I always kept in my back pocket, but I was too scared to use and then it got to a point that I really wanted to do a show so I got a producer and a band and we put it together with a show at The Whiskey in LA. It was so great, but there aren’t really any plans as I was starting to work on an album and then acting picked up, but it's always something I go back to. Right now, I record things and sell them to shows and just kind of do it as a hobby.