Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s Valerie wasn’t the only bitch to come to Beverly Hills 90210. There was also, of course, the one and only Ginger LaMonica, Valerie’s best friend from Buffalo, who would come in and out of town, leaving a trail of damage in her wake.
Elisa Donovan, who played Ginger and is also known for starring as Amber in Clueless, now appears on TheWB.com webseries The Lake, which is directed by 90210’s Jason Priestley.
TeenDramaWhore: First, I have to ask, where on Long Island did you grow up? I’m from Garden City.
Elisa Donovan: I grew up in Northport.
TDW: Going back to your Beverly Hills 90210 days, do you remember what attracted you to the role of the conniving (and crazily-named) Ginger LaMonica?
Donovan: Everything about Ginger attracted me to her as a character! She was a lying, conniving, gold-digging, pot-smoking, thieving floosie— who wouldn’t want to play that??
TDW: Ginger’s schemes are infamous. Have you ever had someone like her or Valerie in your life?
Donovan: I can’t say that I’ve had someone quite as devious as Ginger in my life, but I’ve certainly had people as flawed as Valerie. I think she was just a girl who wanted to better herself and was insecure and afraid of her past. Believe me, there are plenty of people like that in Hollywood…! Tiffani herself, on the other hand, is an absolute doll.
TDW: This one from episode 6.20, Flying, was particularly preposterous–What would be your reaction if someone demanded $50,000 from you or the right to sleep with your boyfriend?
Donovan: I’d be totally flattered, and then tell them to hit the road! Of course if they looked like Tiffani, my boyfriend might consider it! 😉
TDW: Where do you think Ginger is today? My guess is she’s heading straight to Cougarville…
Donovan: Cougartown, without a doubt.
TDW: On the show, you had a one-episode fling (6.01: Home Is Where The Tart Is) with Jason Priestley’s character Brandon, and shared several other scenes with him. What was your reaction when you found out you’d be working with him again on The Lake?
Donovan: Jason is honestly one of my favorite people in this business. He’s a great actor, a great director, and just a lovely person. I had such fun working with him back then on 90210. He was so gracious and kind, especially when we had to be in bed together the first day of shooting! I was so uncomfortable and he just completely put me at ease. We laughed a lot and I ended up doing a bunch of episodes that year. I can’t remember if we were involved again romantically after the first episode….Ginger’s love life was rather busy! I actually read about The Lake and heard that Jason was directing it. So I told my reps I wanted to go in for it. I wanted to work with Jason again and knew he’d do a great job with the material.
TDW: You previously knew him as an actor. What’s he like as a director?
Donovan: He’s very generous and insightful and supportive as a director. You can trust him, and as an actor that’s the first thing I want from a director. We really put ourselves in their hands, and you hope that they can guide you, rein you in, give you ideas, encourage you.. make you feel safe to be vulnerable, etc… Jason has all of those abilities. Especially with the new kids that were in the cast. Most of them didn’t have too much on camera experience, and he really guided them and got terrific performances out of everybody. And did it all within very tight parameters. We didn’t have a lot of time to shoot the show, and the budget was limited–yet the set was always calm, fun and lighthearted. He really made it that way. We all had a ball. And the show reflects that—it looks great.
TDW: How is working on a webseries different from a typical television series?
Donovan: The big differences are time and budget. You generally have a lot more to do in a shorter period time. And there are technical differences that are major—as in how certain materials and colors appear on screen…the streaming issue.. I don’t really understand that end of it, but there is a lot that has to be monitored in that vein. And content—there is a lot more freedom on the internet and you can take more risks I suppose. Also, because of the length of the episodes, the entire structure of the script is different. You have to have a story arc in a couple of pages. A lot more has to happen in a shorter period of time as well.
TDW: What’s been your favorite experience with it so far?
Donovan: Honestly, the people. This has been one of the best groups of people from top to bottom on this show. From the execs, to the writers, down to every crew member. There was a certain camaraderie that was established almost instantly, because we all knew we were doing this for the love of the project. Everyone’s work ethic was high, and we maintained the professionalism, while still having an absolute ball. There was no room for egos or any nonsense…and a real bonding has happened as a result of everybody being so committed for all of the right reasons. Because of that, and having been on location together part of the time in Big Bear!
TDW: What other projects do you have lined up?
Donovan: I just finished shooting a movie with Andrea Roth, Nicholas Brendon, Bruce Davison and Alley Mills called “Holiday House.” I have a TV movie called “The Dog Who Saved Christmas” premiering on ABC Family in November, in which I star with Gary Valentine, Dean Cain, and Mindy Sterling. I also have a comedy webseries called “In Gayle We Trust” for NBC, which [debuted] September 15th. The series is created by Brent Forrester (producer/writer from “The Office”), and I play Gayle, an insurance agent that gets overly involved with her clients. It’s really funny. And Brent is a genius writer, and a great guy! I’m also writing a book right now, based on a one woman show I did last year at The Geffen Playhouse.
TDW: Any chance we’ll get a Clueless reunion of some sort?
Donovan: Ha! I don’t know… I hear rumblings of a sequel, but don’t know if that’s really true. It would be great fun to revisit those characters as adults. I think it could be pretty hilarious. I do know that “Clueless the Musical” is supposed to open on Broadway this fall. THAT I will have to see!
TDW: Lastly, do you have a Twitter account you’d like to share with fans? May I promote your official site?