Bustle Booth

On She-Hulk, Ginger Gonzaga Is More Than Just The Best Friend

The actor reveals why she made her Marvel character a style icon.

Ginger Gonzaga knows a thing or two about being the perfect sidekick. For years, the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law star has teamed up with her closest “ride or die” friends, including This Way Up star Aisling Bea, to battle a common foe: self-doubt. “I hate when people don’t reach their full potential. It kills me when I see how special or talented someone is and for them to doubt that about themselves,” she tells Bustle, explaining how she and Bea have laughter-filled vent sessions about “how effing difficult it is to be a woman in this world.”

That’s also the M.O. of her paralegal character, Nikki Ramos, who encourages best friend Jen Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) to embrace her newfound superhero abilities in the Marvel Studios series. Just as Nikki provides comedic relief as Jen navigates her new superhero identity, she also uses humor to help her friends through rough times. “That’s Nikki’s love language, and that’s my love language, too,” Gonzaga says.

Her natural affinity for comedy is ultimately what led the 39-year-old Modesto, California, native to abandon her pursuit of a career in international law to study improv. Gonzaga moved to Los Angeles where she started acting in TV commercials, and following her big-screen debut in the 2011 comedy, Ted, she won over audiences with her work in Togetherness, I’m Dying Up Here, and Kidding. Though she didn’t become a lawyer, she eventually got to play one in ABC’s Mixology in 2014.

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Blending legalese and comedy in playing Nikki brought her full circle once again. This time, she also got the opportunity to mold her character into a style icon. Gonzaga relished the chance to collaborate with the show’s hair, makeup, and wardrobe stylists to craft different looks for her character. She even gave them nicknames, from the all-white ensemble she called “AOC” (for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) to an outfit inspired by the first female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, which brought back childhood memories. “When I was a child, I was in these weird church musicals where I played a pharaoh, so we literally did the exact same makeup, but we made it couture,” Gonzaga jokes. “I like to say that Nikki’s antidepressant is glitter, and that’s kind of mine as well.”

For Gonzaga, Nikki’s looks go much deeper than fashion, however. Growing up, Dante Basco, who played Rufio in 1991’s Hook, was the only Filipino actor she saw on TV. As a Filipino American, Gonzaga recognizes how meaningful it is to be part of something as big as a Marvel project. “I wanted my character to be someone who people can look up to,” she explains. “I want people to want to be Nikki for Halloween and be excited that this Filipino actress is playing this and that she’s fun and she’s funny, and also still smart.”

Get to know more about Gonzaga in her Bustle Booth questionnaire below.

In The Bustle Booth

What's your coffee order?

Oat Milk Chagaccino!

What are the saved weather locations on your phone?

Los Angeles, London, Atlanta, New York, and Nyack

What’s your sign?

Taurus baybeee

Favorite overused movie quote?

"There's a storm coming..."

What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?

Inspector Gadget

What’s one movie or TV show you're currently obsessed with?

Oh god, I barely watch anything — eek! But I loved Severance.

Who is your celeb idol?

Freddie Mercury all day.

If you had to be on a reality TV show, what would it be?

Naked and Afraid

Go-to karaoke song?

I joke and threaten my friends that I'll sing "Send In The Clowns" because it's such a vibe kill. I don't ever really karaoke! I like “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, though!

What’s something that’s inspiring you lately?

The Pack Drumline. I randomly went to a taping of America's Got Talent yesterday to support a friend, and the Pack Drumline was so inspiring. They were all so present, and I LOVE drumming and the emotion that goes into it. It was beautiful.

What is something you would want people to say about you?

She's a very powerful empath!