by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we are so excited to be able to share with you an interview with Sharon Leal, who is part of the cast of Instinct, and formerly from Fresno, CA! She chatted with us a bit about her background and career, and about being a part of Instinct. Our interview with her can be found after our review of Instinct.
Instinct TV Review
American TV has been lacking a bit the last season or so in the mystery genre, but this season’s mid season release of the show Instinct has finally given mystery fans something to cheer about again. Don’t get me wrong, we do have several enjoyable police procedural type shows, but they often seem to be less about the mystery itself than the action and setting. Instinct, while it is a police procedural of sorts, seems to focus more on the mystery.
Instinct is based on a James Patterson book, originally called Murder Games, but recently released in paperback as Instinct. It features Dr. Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming) who is a former CIA operative now living a quieter life as a professor and author of a best selling book on abnormal behavior. It is that book that brings him together with NYPD detective Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) as a serial killer is using Dylan’s book as a playbook for his killing spree. This is the beginning of Dylan being drawn back into the adrenaline filled world of law enforcement. Not only does he bring his own intellect and skills to the crime solving, he also has an old friend from his CIA days who has access to top secret intelligence. The friend, Julian, is played by the wonderful Naveen Andrews, best known for his roles in Sense8 and Lost.
I also enjoy the personal side of things as we get to see Dylan with his husband Andy (Daniel Ings), who left law to buy a bar. They have great chemistry and are a fun couple. You also see Dylan’s dedication to his marriage, in that it was one of the reasons he left the CIA. Lizzie comes in with her own personal issues as her fiancé was killed in the line of duty, and she struggles with the possibility of losing her Beagle who is getting up in age. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Whoopi Goldberg plays Dylan’s literary agent who adds some fun to the show as well.
A special bonus casting wise for those of us living in the Fresno area is the casting of Sharon Leal as their boss, Lt. Jasmine Gooden. I hope we get to learn more about her character as the series continues. Sharon is from the Fresno area and started her acting career in local theatre here. You may also recognize her from her role as M’gann M’orzz in Supergirl.
While the show might not be terribly original in its basic format, it makes up for it in the relationships, the characters, and the wonderful cast. And it is indeed nice to have a show that relies more on solving the mystery than on car chases and explosions.
I must say though that what makes this show amazing is the wonderful Alan Cumming-whom I would watch in pretty much anything. He brings his amazing talent and charm to this role and turns what would otherwise just be an interesting mystery show, into something even more. Another plus for this show is that Cumming’s character happens to be the first openly gay male lead character in a broadcast drama on CBS!
So if you enjoy a good mystery, and especially if you are an Alan Cumming fan like I am, don’t miss Instinct! It airs Sunday nights on CBS at 8/7 central. While season one is almost done, you can still see some of the episodes on the CBS website and the show has been renewed for a second season!
Speaking of Alan Cumming, he wrote a delightful children’s book called The Adventures of Honey & Leon which is Illustrated by Grant Shaffer, that we reviewed on KRL News & Reviews last year.
Interview with Sharon Leal:
KRL: Where are you from originally?
Sharon: I was born in Tucson Az. I spent the early years of my childhood in the Philippines and then my family made their way to Fresno.
KRL: Can you tell us just a little about your past involvement in Fresno theatre?
Sharon: I went to Roosevelt School of the Arts where I sang in show choir and studied dance, voice, & acting. I was a member of the Junior Company with Good Company Players. I also Performed in several of their main musical productions.
KRL: When did you decide you wanted to make acting your profession?
Sharon: I initially had one dream- Broadway. I was a singer primarily. Never occurred to me to be an actress in television and film. When I was In the Broadway production of Rent playing Mimi, an exec from Warner Brothers gave me his card backstage after seeing the show and asked if I’d thought about doing television. He set up a couple of auditions for me which naturally planted the seed in my brain that maybe I could do it. I got a small agency to represent me and they also started sending me out on television auditions. I was clueless but was fortunate enough to book my first job on a Daytime television show where I was thrown into the trenches learning all the technical aspects of working on camera and learning lots of lines in very short periods of time. It was the perfect way to start when you’re green and trying to learn the ropes.
KRL: What was your first film or television role?
Sharon: My first film role was playing Michelle Morris in Dreamgirls for Paramount.
KRL: I know you are a singer, Broadway actress, movie and TV actress, and have had a very successful and varied career-what are your top three favorite roles so far?
Sharon: Top three are the experience of Dreamgirls, Mimi in Rent, and an “indie” I did, called 1982, where I played a drug addicted woman living in Philadelphia in the early ’80s. That role was just a huge departure from anything I had done previously, so I had a great time tackling her.
KRL: I have to throw this in being a Supergirl fan-what was it like working on a superhero TV show? Are you a fan of the superhero genre yourself? Do you know if you will be on more episodes in the future?
Sharon: Being on Supergirl was a great experience. The cast is a friendly and happy bunch so working on that set was always a joy. The fans are unlike anything I’ve experienced. They have been so supportive and incredible. There’s really nothing like playing a Superhero. The metaphors for life are pretty profound. It was incredibly exciting to step into Ms Martian’s shoes as well as playing opposite another fantastic actor David Harewood. Who doesn’t want to pretend they can save the world?! I wound up getting Instinct so it was onto the next gig. She could always return if timing and or scheduling allowed it. I’d love to come back.
KRL: You currently play Lt. Jasmine Gooden on the mystery TV show “Instinct” with Alan Cumming and Bojana Novakovic-how did that role come about?
Sharon: Instinct happened because i had starred in a Pilot for CBS that ultimately did not get picked up to series- The network was awesome enough to include me in one that did that same season .
KRL: What has it been like working with Alan Cummings?
Sharon: I adore Alan Cumming our leading man. I’ve been a fan of his for some time now. He has made shooting a blast, he has a terrific sense of humor, a lovely kindness, and the occasional showtune before a take doesn’t hurt either.
KRL: What interested you most about playing this role?
Sharon: I was drawn to Lt. Gooden because she’s this “no-nonsense” ball buster running a precinct in New York City. I liked her command and I’m also a huge proponent of stronger, competent female characters in TV and film. I’ve always appreciated cop shows like Hill Street Blues, Homicide, and Law and Order. It’s been a great experience thus far.
KRL: Are you a mystery fan yourself? If yes, what do you like to read or watch in the mystery genre?
Sharon: I remember reading Agatha Christie and some Raymond Chandler back in the day. I also read a little James Patterson who actually wrote the book Murder Games which is the springboard for Instinct.
KRL: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Sharon: It has been wonderful coming back to NY. I’ve had a nice modest career doing what I love. I never take it for granted and have enjoyed the experiences I’ve had along with the many talented friends I’ve made along the way.
Thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to chat with us and I hope Instinct has many seasons!
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure not to miss our new mystery podcast!
You can use this link to purchase the book Instinct on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.