“I look forward to seeing the Condoleeza Rices on TV.” Melissa of Women and Hollywood chatted this week with Gina Ravera (seen above in the trailer for The Great Debaters), seen  on TV screens in two of the industry’ top shows.

Gina Ravera is an anomaly in Hollywood today, a woman of color who stars in not one, but two hit TV series — ER and The Closer. Her film credits, among many others, include The Great Debators opposite Denzel Washington, director George Tillman’s award-winning Soul Food, Kiss The Girls with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, Spike Lee’s Get On The Bus and Paul Verhoeven’s cult classic Showgirls. She also is the founder of Project Reina, which educates young African American and Latina girls about HIV/AIDS prevention.

Women & Hollywood: Most actresses have trouble getting one job on a TV series and you have two. How is that possible?

Gina Ravera: Both shows are done by Warner Brothers. It’s a real blessing to have two jobs. The character I play on ER (Bettina DeJesus) is a lot closer to me. She’s a lot of fun. The development of Detective Daniels on The Closer has been fascinating. Her character didn’t really exist in the pilot. She’s been evolving as the years go on.

W&H: I think it’s fascinating that Daniels is the only other woman on the squad except for Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson (played by Kyra Sedgwick).

GR: People wonder why there isn’t more solidarity
between Daniels and Brenda and the truth from the writer’s perspective
is that it is difficult for a woman in any industry, especially
something as male dominated as the LAPD to be seen as an equal to men.
The women have to prove that they are not going to come together just
because they are women. It’s not that the women aren’t threatened, but
if you align yourself with a woman in a male dominated profession, the
men are suspicious. They want to be perceived as a legitimate cops, as
tough and as strong as their male counterparts.

W&H: The first couple of seasons of The Closer were spent trying
to get the men of the squad to trust Brenda as their leader. Now that
trust has been established the show is moving into a whole new area
where personal lives are revealed, especially with your character who
happens to be dating a person on the squad.

GR: Having a relationship at work is sticky. If it doesn’t work
out how do you come back and not have that color how effective you are.
That was Brenda’s main concern about Daniels and Sgt. Gabriel (Corey
Reynolds). The relationship has been pretty quiet onscreen but in the
episode that aired last week all of Brenda’s fears came to pass. This
season is about power, the loss of power, the acquisition of power and
also about finding out how little power one has.

W&H: One of the things I’ve noticed is how few women of color we
see in positions of power and as characters on TV shows and here you
are you playing a detective and a doctor.

GR: I was talking to a friend of mine and said (whatever your
politics are) I look forward to seeing the Condoleeza Rices on TV. I
hope that she exists in Hollywood. I want to see the Michelle Obamas in
Hollywood because until this day we have yet to see her. I think those
images are important because not every young kid reads the paper, but
seeing that it is a possibility is of the utmost importance. I think
that it is from fiction that we learn to dream, and if we don’t have
images in fiction that we aspire to be then we’re robbed. It’s sad when
fiction fails to embrace reality. I too look forward to seeing those
images of women in power. I feel so fortunate to be able to play a
doctor and a detective – there are so many powerful women of color. I
hope to see Hollywood embrace real women and characters.

First the good news: A new British study
about the HRT drug tibolone, meant to measure its protections against
osteoporosis, found that those gains were real: those on HRT were up to
half as likely to have broken a rib during the
study and a quarter as likely to have broken any other bone.  However,
the drug appeared to double patient’s stroke risk:

Older women have been warned that a popular HRT pill can
more than double the risk of suffering a stroke. Tibolone, a drug taken
by tens of thousands of British women to combat the symptoms of
menopause, raises the odds of a stroke in the over 60s, say researchers.

Those who took tibolone were 2.2 times as likely to have a stroke as
those who did not – and the oldest women were at the greatest risk…

The study was abandoned before it was finished, so as not to unduly
risk the women’s health. However, the drug cut the risk of broken bones
and of breast and bowel cancers, the New England Journal of Medicine
reports. Last night, British doctors urged women over 70 and those
whose health problems put them at risk of stroke to consider
alternative hormone replacement therapies.

Dr David Sturdee, president of the International Menopause Society,
said: ‘If women are on tibolone at the age of 70, then this is implying
that should be reviewed and alternatives seriously considered.’

Let’s talk about sex – again: That University of Chicago
study on sex among boomers turns out to have far more aspects than the
dour STD results Newsmix learned about yesterday. Mostly, it seems, we’re busy having sex and wanting more:

older Americans are apparently taking advantage of that fact, because
68 percent of men between 57 and 85 reported having sex last year, as
did 42 percent of women, according to the study’s lead author, Edward
Laumann, the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor of
Sociology at the University of Chicago. And, Laumann added, more older
women might have wanted to have sex, but there just aren’t as many
available older men for them to partner with.

“Healthy people can have reasonably satisfying sexual health for
most of their lives,” said Laumann. “There are challenges that arise,
but it’s not aging, per se, that’s the issue. A decline in sexuality
may be the canary in the mineshaft. Sexual problems may manifest before
diabetes and high blood pressure.” The study findings were published in
the current issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

…”Sexual health is a harbinger of physical and mental health, and
it plays an important role in the quality of life,” Laumann said.
“Older people don’t just drop out of the picture. In general, if you’re
healthy, you can be sexually active.”

Sadock added: “Don’t assume that because you’re older, your sex life
has to be gone. If you’re healthy and connected to someone, and you’ve
had a pretty good sex life when you’re younger, then you can have a
pretty good sex life in old age.”

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