How they got their start: Gina Ravera

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: April 16, 2019, 4:25PM

For the first four seasons of The Closer, Gina Ravera played Irene Daniels, the homicide detective and eventual love interest of David Gabriel. Her sense of humor helped her deal with all the extra male attention she gets from time to time, but unfortunately, the end of her arc pits her against a certain man for a job that sadly sends her packing from the department before most viewers were ready to say goodbye.

Ravera began acting in 1990 with a string of guest roles in TV and movies, with her earliest appearance on television on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The two-part episode "Someday Your Prince Will Be In Effect" had a ton of great guest stars alongside Ravera, in Quincy Jones, Heavy D, Bo Jackson and many more, but Ravera's scene comes early in the episode, which finds cousins Will and Carlton fighting over the same girl, with unexpected results. 

In the episode, Ravera played Cheryl, a girl on a fictitious date with Will that Carlton is narrating to impress the girl he and Will both like. The scene is hilarious and sees Will being the worst date on the planet to the exceedingly patient Cheryl, who he stupidly walks up a dangerous dark alley to get her home. When they encounter trouble in the alley, that's when Carlton waltzes up pulling moves to the music of "Smooth Criminal" to save the day. At the end of the dream sequence, Carlton gets the girl, and that's about as close to foreshadowing as the playful sitcom got.

After Fresh Prince, Ravera appeared in hit shows like In Living Color, True Colors, Melrose Place and Star Trek: The Next Generation before landing her first recurring TV role as a doctor on Silk Stalkings. That led to even more high-profile roles in movies like Showgirls and Kiss the Girls. By the time the decade closed, she'd join her first cast, co-starring alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt as a bar waitrress on the Party of Five spin-off Time of Your Life.

Just before appearing on The Closer, Ravera also had a 13-episode arc on ER as Dr. Bettina DeJesus and just last year, she featured in three episodes of the action drama Arrow. In an interview with, Ravera explained how her role on The Closer was uniquely challenging:

"I’m very passionate and very expressive. I’ve played dancers and freaks. I’m from San Francisco, and I definitely put that part of my personality on-screen. This character, Daniels, is far more reserved than I’ve ever played. It was very difficult to play someone who was so buttoned down, so straight. ... It’s difficult not expressing the way that I feel."

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