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Another Tough Broad


Christine Woods has just joined a new group: When her Agent Janis Hawk on ABC's rookie drama FlashForward came out, she instantly became associated with a small but notable league of gay characters on prime-time TV. And while other newbies in the group -- like Chris Colfer's Kurt Hummel on Fox's Glee -- spend time in high school halls and singing groups, Woods has a story line that almost requires a road map.

On FlashForward, her Agent Hawk is part of a Los Angeles-based FBI squad investigating the causes and culprits behind what led the entire world to simultaneously black out for two minutes and 17 seconds and catch a glimpse of what happens in that same amount of time six months into their future. And Hawk's flash forward is a gem: The single lesbian is pregnant.

Woods, who is playing gay for the first time in her career, paused to discuss her character (who treated LGBT fans to not one but three on-screen smooches during a recent episode), U-Hauls, and what ABC is doing right when it comes to writing gay characters. For those who haven't seen FlashForward yet, how would you describe your character?
Christine Woods: I would describe her as very intelligent, very strong; I mean, she's in a career that's predominantly male but she holds her own. She does the right thing, she's honorable and honest and she's all about her job.

In episode 3, you're questioning a Nazi who has knowledge of what caused the blackouts and he basically outs you based on a thumb ring.
He does. [Laughs] It's funny because they didn't want that scene to be Janis's official outing in the show; they just wanted to drop the clue. And I'm thinking to myself that it's pretty obvious. I know that's just a clue, but people are going to pick up on it and they're going to blog about that kind of stuff. The whole idea is that I would stare at him blankly and try not to give anything away even though it's pretty freaking obvious.

What did you think of that in terms of how characters are outed on TV?

The way I made it seem is that Janis is such a workaholic and she's obsessed with her job. I know some women in law enforcement and they say, "Well, yeah, everybody tries to make jokes about the fact that we're gay because we're tough broads." So in my mind, Janis has had to deal with that several times, and so she kind of just rolls her eyes and deals with it. But I think it's something that women in predominantly male fields have to just deal with because we challenge our male counterparts in terms of sexuality and that kind of thing. So I just blew it off as something that she has to deal with constantly.

In episode 3 we saw Agent Hawk roll her eyes when a religious-themed explanation was offered for the global blackout. Are Janis's feelings on religion something the show will be exploring this season?
Not as of yet; I don't know about her feelings on religion, but there's a lot of stuff that comes up with her pregnancy, with how she feels about how one should raise a child in terms of morality and crap like that. I definitely think there's a possibility that we'll examine things like that.

In regard to the pregnancy, do you think having a strong female gay character who becomes pregnant sends a message to red-state America?
I think that it might piss them off, which is good. I think that it's important to show gay characters on television as relatable as possible. This is not just a gay issue; this is a woman issue as well as a human issue. Having a child while working for the federal government is something that is a compelling story as is, and I think that if it makes people kind of uncomfortable, then we're doing our job. I think that it makes them have to think a little bit more and kind of examine themselves, like why or why not that may not bother them or not. I think it's good if we make people uncomfortable; I think that's our job, really, to challenge people.

In episode 5, "Gimme Some Truth," Janis officially comes out during a date with Maya [Navi Rawat] but says she opts to remain closeted at work since the "federal government doesn't like gays with guns." Do you think Hawk will come out at work this season?
I personally think that some of her colleagues do know. I think maybe Demetri [John Cho] already knows because they've been friends for so many years. But I don't know. I think she could come out at work based on how in fact she does get pregnant.

Janis and Maya pretty much embodied the lesbian "U-Haul" joke in that episode: hooking up, staying the night and ending the relationship within 24 hours. Is this the last we'll see of Maya?
I don't think it's the last we're going to see of Maya. I think it's interesting because I think at that point in the episode, Janis is just done with Maya and she got freaked out at the whole lesbian U-Haul thing, but I think that after you get shot and you're lying in a pool of blood, the chances are you rethink the mistakes you've made. I personally think that it's not the last of Maya that we'll see.

Janis calls things off when Maya -- in a bid to know more than Google, "Mosaics" her to find out what she saw during the blackout. What do you think of the whole Googling your date practice?
It's so interesting that they brought that up because I feel that the Mosaic is also a representation of Facebook and all that creepy Internet shit that people are into these days -- hey, I'm guilty of it, I have a Facebook. ... I think that it was good and interesting that we touched on that and about the whole invasion of privacy and this whole new social networking is even different -- the social "Mosaicing," like you can look people up and see what they see and make a predetermination about who that person is based on what they were doing in their flash forward.

The last episode that aired ends with your character getting shot and lying in a pool of blood. What can you tell us about what's next for Agent Janis Hawk?
Well, there's definitely a lot of stuff about her future as a career woman as opposed to her future as a parent. There's a lot of stuff that comes up about whether or not she wants to raise a child. It's good!

What else can you share about your character's pregnancy?
Right now we don't really know, but we do know that it's something that's going to be not your typical pregnancy -- obviously she's gay -- not your typical parenting modes. It's definitely going to be something that's shocking and very different than I think what you would expect.

What about you personally: Is this your first time playing gay?
It is my first time playing gay, and I love it. I applaud ABC so much, because I think as a network they've had some really great gay characters on a lot of their shows. There definitely could be more. I think it's wonderful. I'm a huge advocate of gay rights -- to me, it's synonymous with human rights -- it's the same damn thing. I think it's important to show and I think it's important for kids to see positive gay characters on TV shows, and I think ABC is going in the right direction. I love the way they're writing Janis. They're not writing her with a bunch of gay issues, they're writing her with regular issues, and she just happens to be a gay woman working for the government. I think it was really nice how her official coming-out with Maya on the date wasn't this big to-do; it was just part of her life and it was normal for her. I think the writers are doing a really great job of making it seem like part of her life, just normal. Just like any other romantic situation with any other straight character.

The whole theme of the show is about what you choose to do with a future that you've seen and leaps of faith. What would you do if you saw a piece of your future?
I don't really know what I would do. I don't think I would really want to see a piece of my future. Because if you see something really great, there's a big chance that you might eff it up, you might strangle the kitty, as they say. [Laughs] But I don't know, I don't think I would want to see part of my future, it would just freak me out. What if something really shitty happened and you would obsess over it and have a horrible life after that?

What if there was an Emmy award in your future?
An Emmy?! That'd be kind of nice. But no, because then I would think that I was the shit and I wouldn't work as hard and then I wouldn't get it. [Laughs]

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