Actress Jamie Gray Hyder. Photo Credit: Bjoern Kommerell.

Actress Jamie Gray Hyder. Photo Credit: Bjoern Kommerell.

Editorial Note: This interview was conducted before the airing of the series finale of “True Blood” and the season finale of “Graceland.”

As a young woman thrust into the throes of Hollywood, it’s easy to see why one would get wrapped up in all its glitz and glamour — especially if, like Jamie Gray Hyder, you get your big break on a hit phenomenon show like HBO’s True Blood.

But Hyder comes off as nothing more than an appreciative, grounded and intelligent individual. Though her acting roots go way back to the stage and kid-day commercials, the now grown-up actress and model is fast realizing her potential and becoming the next young starlet on the scene.

Most recognize her as Danielle, the sharp-fanged and wildly seductive werewolf on seasons five and six of True Blood. And in every sense of the word, she was fed to the wolves, coming out on top and successfully rising to the occasion (steamy sex scene and all). More recently, viewers could see her as Lucia Solano, the unpredictable, daring and emotionally torn Latina on USA’s Graceland, which just finished its second season. While it may be easy to slide into the stereotypical role of a young, hot chica whose family is part of a dangerous drug cartel, Hyder convincingly portrays the humanity of Lucia — forever caught between doing what is right for her and what is right for her family.

Though we have only been given a taste of what this brown-haired, brown-eyed beauty can do, it’s clear that she’s a force to be reckoned with. From the fantasy world of werewolves and vampires to the crooked L.A. streets ridden with cops (both good and bad), Hyder is closing off no doors.

She may not know her next move yet, but she recently opened up to GALO about her ambitions for returning to her comedic roots and trying her hand at stand-up — frightening as that may be. The Washington, D.C. native also spoke of getting in touch with the animal inside of her, toning up for a hot ménage à trois, and why she, too, can’t wait to see what happens next in True Blood.

GALO: You broke into the TV and film business rather recently, and have already had so much success. Is it a bit overwhelming having such a large fan base so soon?

Jamie Gray Hyder: Having started off on True Blood actually was a really insane thing to understand, and just so intense. And [the actors] know everything about the show, so when I was cast it was like everybody knew [things] before I did, it felt like. So that was definitely a crazy intro into the business.

GALO: Did you like coming onto a show that had such a following already?

JGH: It definitely increased the pressure on me to do a good job, but I definitely thrive in those situations. For me, coming onto the scene on such a high profile show… I was so grateful for it, and I am so grateful to have worked with a network like HBO so early on because it really shows other people how they can trust me.

GALO: You have been involved with theatre and the professional stage from a very young age. How has that experience prepared you for auditioning for various roles? Do you have a process when it comes to reading for a part or is it more improvised?

JDH: When you first read a character’s description and you read the script, you definitely get an initial instinct about who they are and whether or not you connect with them. For me, doing theatre from such a young age really taught me to be comfortable with me, more than anything, in the audition room. I had to deal with that process and the rejection and all of that very early on, so it was sort of taking what I learned from those experiences and molding them to fit a new media.

GALO: So like you said, you played the werewolf Danielle on HBO’s True Blood, a sexy and wild character that is rough around the edges. How did you click with a character that is a werewolf and get into that animalistic mindset?

JGH: Well, when I first got the role, I immediately started doing research on werewolves themselves. There’s so much folklore and there’s so much information on this fantasy character that when preparing for the role, I just had to decide at what point her human side was taking over and at what point her werewolf side was taking over. It kind of varied as the season went on. So, for Danielle, that was sort of how I approached the role.

GALO: True Blood is known for its proclivity for nudity. You had a very steamy scene right off the bat in the season six premiere — a threesome — the show’s first. What was it like to shoot that nude scene in the woods at night, and how do you mentally prepare for something that intense?

JGH: It was cold — very, very cold. It was probably 30 degrees at night in the middle of the woods, so you’re trying to focus on staying warm more than anything. When I heard that I had that scene coming up, I really tried to prepare myself so that I was comfortable with my body. I was working out every day and I cut out all carbs, dairy and alcohol for a month. The important part about that for me was I wanted to be able to focus on the context of the scene and not be worried or distracted by the fact that I was naked. I wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable, and that my body and the nudity would no longer be a factor when we were filming it.

GALO: The other actors that were involved with the scene, did you talk with them at all about it off set to get comfortable with each other?

JGH: Well, I had worked with Kelly [Overton, who plays Rikki] and Joe [Manganiello, who plays Alcide] for all of season five, so I felt really comfortable that it was the two of them that I was doing the scene with. I trust them and I respect both of them. We all sort of just checked in with each other beforehand and said, “Alright, are you comfortable with this? Yeah, okay,” and we just went for it.