One of our favorite things about Season 4 of Gossip Girl is its hot new cast member, Tika Sumpter (Raina). Tika took a breath from her busy shooting schedule in New York City to tell us about making the switch from Daytime to Primetime — and what it’s like to get steamy with GG heartthrob Ed Westwick (Chuck).
Wetpaint: How does it feel to be joining a show that's already been on for four seasons? Has the cast been welcoming?
Tika Sumpter: Yeah! The cast has been great. They’ve been warm and helpful and very professional. It’s really just a lot of fun being a part of such a big show.
Wetpaint: You were on One Life to Live before Gossip Girl. What are the biggest differences between shooting a soap opera and a teen drama?
Tika: The difference is the pace. Soap operas are really fast because you have to do a whole script in one day. On a once-a-week show you shoot a few scenes per day so you get to soak up your character more, rather than having to put out a show every day.
Wetpaint: Which do you like better?
Tika: Oh, they’re two totally different genres. I mean, learned a lot from One Life to Live but I love just soaking in a character and taking my time. But as an actor I love just to work in general! [Laughs] I love being able to take my time with characters and really get to know them. You know, having the time to make different choices. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other but, on a technicality, I like being able to take my time with things a little bit more.
Wetpaint: Your real name is Euphemia. How'd you get "Tika" out of that?
Tika: Well, my name is Euphemia LatiQue Sumpter, and the myth is that my grandmother started calling me that because it comes from the tiki bird in Florida — which is a really beautiful, black bird. So I’ve always had it, my whole entire life. It’s not something that, you know, I just made up. My family has given it to me and I’ve had it for forever.
Wetpaint: What's it like to kiss Ed Westwick?
Tika: I get that one a lot! It’s pretty grand. It’s fun. [Laughs] We’re two professional actors but you get the chemistry going and we come together — we make it happen! And he’s a pretty sexy guy, so its not that hard.
Wetpaint: Can you tease anything about what's in store for Raina?
Tika: You’re going start finding out more about her family life and the real reasons behind the Thorpe takeover. It’s going to get more dramatic and I think people are going to be in for a major ride with Raina Thorpe and her family. I would say tune in. Seriously.
Wetpaint: Do you prefer New York or Los Angeles?
Tika: Well, I’m from New York and I’m fortunate enough that I’ve always worked in New York. I went out to L.A. to do a show once and I only had to stay a few months. L.A.’s great but that’s were the business is, so it’s all about the business. You kind of can’t get away from it. I feel like New York has a little bit more variety for me. I’m a New York girl. I love working here and I love being here. I feel very lucky.
Wetpaint: Lightning Round: Give one word for each of the following names
Leighton Meester: Sweet.
Blake Lively: Beautiful.
Chace Crawford: Hotty-totty!
Ed Westwick: A pro.
Penn Badgley: Mysterious.
Jessica Szohr: Question mark, because I never really worked with her. But I met her at a fashion show and she was really nice.
Kelly Rutherford: Lovely… Classic!
Connor Paolo: Smart.
Matthew Settle: Hilarious.
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Vote Now! Chuck or Nate for Raina?