SAN FRANCISCO, CA (ASRN.ORG) --There are times when Jada Pinkett Smith feels twinges of guilt about her role as a dedicated nurse on TNT's HawthoRNe
"My mother was a nurse," she says. "She worked in an inner-city women's clinic for many years." Mom dealt with matters of life and death every day. So did Pinkett Smith's grandfather, who was a doctor. By comparison, Pinkett Smith says, her job is a cakewalk.
"In real life," she says, "there are no opportunities for doctors and nurses to say, 'Cut, let's do this scene over.'" HawthoRNe's new season begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday with Richmond Trinity closing its doors. That leaves Pinkett Smith's character, Christina Hawthorne, and her colleagues to whip James River Hospital, a horribly mismanaged deathtrap, into shape.
In most medical dramas, the doctors are the heroes. In most medical dramas, the doctors are the heroes. In your show, the nurses get at least equal credit, sometimes more. Do you think it's important to showcase the nursing staff in this way?
The nurses are the heartbeat of the hospital. What I've come to realize is that doctors may spend 10 to 15 minutes a day with each patient, even if that long, whereas the nurses are at the patient's side 24/7. I think we all know the nursing staff is essential to creating quality healthcare, but it's good to put the spotlight on them.
How much are you channeling your mother in your performance as Christina?
My mother was very passionate about her job. She also was raising me, a rebellious teenager, all by herself, much like Christina is with Camille [played by Hannah Hodson]. So I felt the show really did mirror part of my life. That's what initially struck my interest. But I also shadowed a CNO [chief nursing officer] at a community hospital and I learned a lot from her.
James River Hospital doesn't inspire much confidence. Might the real message of this season be that viewers should take good care of themselves, so they won't wind up as patients in a place like this?
That thought has crossed my mind. The horror stories that we tell, they're very real. I mean, it's scary out there. So as far as my diet and exercise are concerned, one of my priorities is to stay healthy. Because I'm telling you, with the research that we've done, it's very clear that even the best hospitals make some very crucial mistakes.
And when you can't avoid going to the hospital, what kind of patient are you? Are you very compliant or do you ask lots of questions?
Oh, you ask lots of questions. And if the answers don't sit well with you, you go to another doctor and you ask him. We've had a couple of incidents. Like, when my son broke his foot, we had specialists on the phone and we researched thoroughly. When your health is at stake, never just take somebody's word for it.
Christina and Dr. Tom Wakefield (played by Michael Vartan) are clearly crazy about each other. Why is Christina so paralyzed when it comes to romance?
She's still trying to gather herself and get her bearings. She had been married to her husband for so long. Viewers will find out this year that he was the only man she had ever been with. They dated and then she got pregnant with Camille and then they got married and then he died and that was it. So when it comes to starting a new romance, she is way lost.
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