Exclusive Interview: Tika Sumpter Dishes on Raina Thorpe, All Things Gossip Girl

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Tika Sumpter plays Raina Thorpe on Gossip Girl. In an exclusive interview, she spoke with TV Fanatic this week about her character and working on the hit show.

Is Raina over Chuck? What dimensions to her personality have yet to be revealed? Will she ever get some girlfriends? Can she take Chace and Ed at Just Dance?

Our Q&A with her touches on all of the above and more ...

TVF: Were you a fan of the show prior to being cast?

Tika Sumpter: I watched it a couple of times, but no, honestly. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan, I just didn’t watch it as much as most people do. Obviously everyone knows about it, but you don’t realize how huge it is until you’re on it. It’s universal.

Makin' it Raina

He's not quite Justin Bieber, but have you gotten any death threats since hooking up with Chuck Bass?

[laughs] No. Oh my god, I would probably go crazy. No death threats. The cool thing about the fans is they know it’s a TV show. It’s good that it doesn’t go past that. Myself and Ed Westwick aren’t a couple or anything, it’s literally on the show and I’m glad it stays there. I’d be freaked out if I got death threats.

Raina's going to be around for the rest of the season, and we just learned some information about her mother. Are there other components of her character we haven't seen yet?

It’s going to start coming together starting next week where you’ll start learning more about her family and the puzzle will start coming together. There are pieces of her family life that’s missing, which effects the way people end up. You’ll start seeing the reasons of why her family is doing what they’re doing and the reasons why Raina is sometimes harsh and strong and has to be strong. There’s a reason for everything in everyone’s life so it’s going to start coming together more, especially with her mom.

I don’t think she was neglected. But with her mom walking out on her, that was a major blow. She was raised by her father and he’s a hardcore business guy, so she’s learned a lot of lessons from him, but she’s also missed out on a lot of lessons that a woman can teach you. I think she’s grown up in a mans world, so people say she’s a girl version of Chuck Bass, but I think the reason for that is that she grew up in that world, and that’s all she knows. You’ll see her more vulnerable side and what’s between the cracks. I’m excited for people to see that. She has herself together for the most part, but I think you’re going to see that Raina hasn’t dealt with the deeper issues in her life. You’re going to start seeing that unfold. She’s a type A girl and a workaholic, but her vulnerability will be revealed.

Will a male character be bringing out that vulnerable side?

A few of male characters bring that side out of her. It’s going to surprise her.

Will she ever get any girlfriends?

I know! [laughs] She’s on a lonely planet, planet Man. As of right now, I’m don’t know. Right now she’s in this world of guys. I would love a girlfriend.

Nate and Raina

Raina’s also the new It Girl and she doesn’t even know it.

[laughs] I know. The thing about Raina is that she’s from the Midwest, she hasn’t grown up in this media and society saturated place. She has no clue about the monstrosity of that world that Blair and Serena are in. If she found out she was the new It Girl she would be like “uh, ok cool. Now let’s get back to work.” [laughs]

Raina isn’t blind about the things that are going on around her; I think she’s blinder to the artificial stuff. She’s not into the catty drama at all. If she was, she would have had Blair follow her around on Valentines Day with her ex. That’s ridiculous. If someone is plotting around her, she’ll have an open ear. She wasn’t blind about Nate trying to get her back with Chuck.

Is Raina 100% over Chuck Bass?

I don’t think so. I don’t think you just get over somebody like Chuck Bass that fast. He’s definitely a strong character, and I think she respects him. She couldn’t get over how he treated his step-mother. She believes the way you treat family is the way you treat people in life. That’s the strong part of her character. That was hard for her to swallow but I think she, of course, still has an interest in him and we’ll see what happens.

And now with the new information about her mother, it must have made it that much worse.

Yeeaahhhh. That’s going to be very interesting, I can’t wait for you guys to see that. I don’t think anyone is prepared for that’s going to happen. With all of that new information, a lot of new stuff comes out. I’m excited for everyone to watch that!

Talk about working with Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford.

It’s been so fun. Ed Westwick is totally professional and he’s a sweet person. He’s got that British wit. Chace Crawford is a funny, crazy guy who makes me laugh a lot. We just joke around. We work hard, but we joke around. He’s so great to work with.

Got any fun anecdotes about the cast on set?

[laughs] What happens on the set of Gossip Girl, stays on the set of Gossip Girl.

You were born in Queens. When is that borough going to get some love from the producers?

I would hope so. I think Queens is a great place. There are so many different cultures and cool restaurants, especially in Astoria. I’d hope it’d get some love eventually, it’d be nice. I mean Brooklyn got some love, so I don’t know why Queens wouldn’t.

Who would win Just Dance between you, Ed and Chace?

I would definitely win! [laughs] How great was that scene, by the way?

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