Rollins joined the cast of "The L Word" thinking she was going to be a
basketball player. But the role morphed into her playing a soldier.
That's a good thing, because the Yonkers-raised actress will be at the heart
of a story line playing out in the first eight episodes of the new season,
starting Sunday night at 9 on Showtime.
"I prefer it; it's a more serious character," says Rollins. "[But] at first
I was slightly intimidated."
Rollins plays Tasha Williams, whose relationship with Alice (Leisha Hailey)
gets her in trouble with the military, which raises the "Don't ask, don't
tell" controversy on gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces.
"The L Word," in its fifth season, revolves around a group of lesbians
living in Los Angeles. Laurel Holloman, Katherine Moennig, Daniela Sea,
Jennifer Beals, Pam Grier, Cybill Shepherd, Marlee Matlin, Rachel Shelley
and Mia Kirshner co-star with Hailey and Rollins.
"When we created the character of Tasha, one of my writers said to me, we
should do a lesbian who serves in the military, somebody who serves in
Iraq," says series creator and writer Ilene Chaiken. "Once we finished our
first season with her and touched upon the issue, we said we have to do
'Don't ask, don't tell.'"
Rollins spoke to 10 soldiers to research the issue, some of whom had been
separated from the military because of their sexual orientation.
"These women have been through so much," says Rollins, who fell in love with
acting while in high school. She later moved to Los Angeles to pursue it as
a career. Acting, she says, is "the one thing in my life that absolutely
Since launching on Showtime in 2004, "The L Word," has earned favorable
critical notice for strong dramatic writing and sizzling sex scenes. It has
also developed a strong online fan base.
Indeed, Chaiken and some partners created the social network Ourchart.com,
based on a chart of sex partners, that has been central to Alice's character
from the beginning.
Chaiken said some of the story lines were directly impacted by the fan
dialogue on Ourchart.com.
"I'm thrilled by it," Chaiken says about fan reactions. "I love that it has
become part of the popular culture."