Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross On Battling With Jelena And Jumping Into Bed With Pete Davenport

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.

  • Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross

  • hitthefloorcHit The Floor Star Charlotte Rossharlotteross3-1371662956

  • Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross

  • Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross

  • Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross-1371662967

  • Hit The Floor Star Charlotte Ross

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.

And as we learned this week, you both share a connection with Pete Davenport…
CR: I f–ked him. Turns out he was a player and Sloane was in love with him. They weren’t in a committed relationship, but if Olivia had her values in place, she wouldn’t have touched him… but she did. Little do we know, Sloane was pregnant at the time, so she goes off, disappears, and I certainly didn’t do the right thing by climbing the ranks and becoming the director.

How do you see Olivia’s present day relationships with men?
CR: She connects with Dean Cain’s character as well–you’ll find out that they know each other a lot more than you think. But another thing James [LaRosa] did that was surprising to me was give Olivia a long, great marriage to Rick Fox. Turns out we’re into some kinky sex–like, kinky.

Must have been a tough workday. What’s it like to film those scenes?
CR: It’s fun. I like things that are outside of the box and different. I was giggling to James, saying, “It was a long winter for you, wasn’t it?” There’s a lot of wonderful acting, and a lot of sex. I like the idea–I’m single and haven’t been married for 20 years, so I’m certainly not an expert, but it’s cool [that they] keep their marriage alive and have experimented with things. Rick is not only beautiful, but the sweetest man. It’s a joy to work with him and we giggle through the things we do in the show.

Being a former professional basketball player, did he tell you any stories from his time on the court?
CR: I’ve asked him quite a bit–it’s fascinating; he’s lived it. [During the scene where the Devils retired his jersey] it’s really emotional for Olivia, too, because they climbed the ranks together and now he’s moving on to another phase in his life. I asked him what it was like to make that decision, because you don’t want to wait until you’re so injured and can’t move. Do you want to go out on top? He talked to me about what it was like to make that decision, how hard it was, and how he was still playing really well. It’s a huge, emotional decision, and obviously he relates to that extensively.

We know Olivia loves her Louboutins. Do you think she’s nervous for the future, with her husband no longer being a player and herself potentially becoming the sole bread winner?
CR: He’s a big entrepreneur. He ends up getting a job with me.

Do you think Hit the Floor is doing a good job of bringing dancing to the mainstream?
CR: I look at them, thinking what a hard career it is to be a dancer 24/7. A lot of them are on So You Think You Can Dance; they really deserve the spotlight and more credit. I’m hoping that as the show progresses they get some more lines and you’ll get to know their characters more and more individually. The show has opened my eyes as to what it’s like to be a professional dancer. Being a professional actor is hard, but being a professional dancer is no cakewalk.

There are so many newcomers on your show, is there any advice you’ve tried to give them about entering the industry?
CR: I feel very mother-henny and proud of them. It’s quite beautiful to see people living out their dreams. They all work so hard–their work ethic is impressive. They’ll ask for advice about “Should I get a business manager?” or “Should I get a publicist?” and I remember when I was younger, I would have liked to have someone to ask those questions to because you don’t know who to trust sometimes. I’m just so excited for them and I hope that they know that one bad review doesn’t define who you are, and one minute everyone wants to be your friend and the next they don’t. Know your self-worth no matter what happens. James and the show put together a bunch of great people who were close-knit since Day One. I’m optimistic that we stay supportive and loving of each other because it’s really important for all of us that we keep that feeling for the show. It comes across onscreen. The Glee cast is really close and it really translated on camera.

Do you have any favorite dance movies?
CR: Singing in the Rain. It’s such an inspiring movie and it holds up unbelievably. I appreciate what dancers do as artists and what they have to do to maintain that level of fitness and flexibility, and the determination to work on it daily when they make it look so effortless. It takes so much work. It’s the perk of why I love my shows so much. I appreciate how hard these girls work and how beautifully they dance. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like watching 15 Beyoncés.

What about ’80s movies–Dirty Dancing? Flashdance?
CR: Flashdance was my favorite. I did an album with Giorgio Moroder, who won an Oscar for that movie. Whenever I get excited on set, I do the Flashdance running in place. That’s a particular one of my favorites just because it had an impact on my life and I’m dear friends with Giorgio and his wife.

Do you think it deserves a remake or sequel?
CR: I think so. It would be awesome.

Is there a song right now that makes you stop what you’re doing and dance?
CR: Macklemore. I saw the “Thrift Shop” video, and my nine-year-old knows every word. I’m into Pink, she’s amazing, and I’m a work out freak, so I know all of those dance songs and dance to them a lot.

Catch an all-new episode of Hit The Floor on Monday at 9/8 C. And for more information straight from Devil World, head to The Locker Room.

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[Photo Credit: Lauren Weissler for VH1]