This season on Hit The Floor, the only person who’s been able to put Jelena Howard in her place is her direct superior, Olivia Vincent. With obvious parallels in both their talent and unbridled ambition, the Devil Girl Captain and the Devil Girl Director frequently clash, with Olivia coming out on top time and again after some epic stare downs.
Known for her roles on NYPD Blue and Glee, actress Charlotte Ross is a veteran in the television game and a style inspiration to us all, especially those who are forced to spend their days around gym shorts and sneakers. On HTF her character is married to a basketball legend, constantly decked out in Herve Leger and Christian Louboutin, and spends her days schmoozing with premium ticket buyers. In real life, Ross is even more glamorous–as seen when she stopped by the VH1 offices dripping in gorgeous Roberto Cavalli. We chatted with the woman in charge about the stereotypes that can come with portraying strong female characters on television, as well as the dirty little secret from Olivia’s past with Sloane and Pete.
How do you see Olivia and Jelena’s relationship? They’ve taken similar paths in life, but constantly clash over Devil Girl power.
CR: When Logan [Browning] and I see our scenes, we get excited to do them because they are filled with sparks and they’re really fun to play. The dance that we do with the writing and the acting in the scenes is kind of a fun one-upmanship that grows throughout the episodes. Every time I think “Oh my gosh, I can’t one-up her on this,” James comes out with another script and I’m like, “Oh my gosh are you kidding?” And that’s what’s so fun. You’ll see at the end of season one, it definitely reaches quite a crescendo.
Why do you think Olivia puts up with Jelena’s blatant disrespect?
CR: At first I was trying to find my way as to why my character wouldn’t have fired Jelena right off the bat. The truth is, Jelena is a really talented choreographer and dancer. She’s a huge asset to the team in general and to their success. If it was up to Olivia on a personal note she would have fired her a long time ago, but the thing we kept going back to is that Olivia needs Jelena, despite her personal feelings. Jelena also brings back memories of what Olivia was like–Olivia was driven to a fault when she was Jelena’s age and did some questionable things in terms of morals and values to make sure she was going to get ahead at any cost. She sees a little bit of that in Jelena and can see right through it–which I think is cool–but in an odd way, she respects it and needs her.
Have you experienced similar female relationships in the entertainment industry or in your personal life?
CR: I have. I’m drawn to strong, female characters in general. Playing the pretty girl next door was never something I was dying to play. I’ve also played a lot of victims, but I didn’t only want to play that, either. Strong women can fall into “intelligent,” or they can fall into “bitchy.” Unfortunately, a lot of times people equate strong, intelligent women with being a bitch, and there’s many different facets that don’t equate to being a bitch. I’ve certainly played some characters that are flat-out bitches, and I’ve also played some that are well-meaning and strong. Just because they’re a woman, people think they’re a bitch. I don’t see the fun, one-upmanship in female roles like this a lot, which is one of the reasons why I liked the script to begin with, because [James LaRosa] has a lot of different female roles that are doing lots of different things. He brings a fresh look to it but keeps it fun to watch, which is why I’m such a fan of his.
Are we going to see more of Olivia’s backstory as the episodes unfold?
CR You’ll see why Kimberly [Elise] and I have this history, which I love. She’s another actress who I relish having scenes with because she’s just so wonderful, and I like to work with people that bring up your game in a sense and are really present. We peel back the layers as to why there’s all this insecure resentment harboring between us. We were the two star dancers in our heyday, and obviously we took two totally different paths.