Actress Toni Trucks has been keeping a log of her auditions since 2003. She can tell you everything she ever wore, who she auditioned for and what their response was. Inspired by her college professor, Trucks has been chronicling how many jobs she’s booked, how many times she’s been called back and how many times she’s been rejected for almost 15 years. In a career filled with many rejections and many different outfits, Trucks finally landed her dream role on CBS’s hit military drama “SEAL Team.”
Starring alongside David Boreanaz and Jessica Parè, the Michigan native plays a no-nonsense Logistics Coordinator for the SEAL Team named Lisa Davis, who is only concerned with if a person can execute their job at the highest level.
Trucks chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about the biggest differences in the actress she was and is now, working with David Boreanaz and why she takes such pride in playing Lisa Davis.
DJ Sixsmith: What is the biggest difference between Toni Trucks from “Barbershop” and Toni Trucks on “SEAL Team?”
Toni Trucks: I was 100% green during “Barbershop.” I had never done any television at all or work on camera outside of school. I was really learning on camera when I did “Barbershop,” so that was interesting. I was really green, but I think that served me well too. I always had a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, love for the work and I was just so excited to be on set. The similarity now is that I am very happy, excited and enthusiastic for the work with hopefully a bit more finesse in terms of execution.
DS: Why did you want to be in “SEAL Team” on CBS?
TT: “SEAL Team” appealed to me because of my character in particular Lisa Davis. I was seeing a woman in the military that was doing all the things that I wanted her to do. She is smart, strong, respected and beautiful and none of those things are mutually exclusive. She can be all things and that’s what I wanted to see. I didn’t want her to diminish her sexuality in any way because I felt like you can do all of those things. That script was providing me the opportunities to show all of the colors of this woman in a really exciting way. It was padded with such a high pedigree of writers, creators and directors and you are so safe as an actor when you are working with such high caliber people.
DS: You and your cast members underwent extensive preparation for the show and met with veterans who served in the military. What was the most eye opening part of that experience?
TT: I didn’t personally have an active working knowledge of the military. I didn’t have anyone in my immediate family that had served. There was a learning curve for me. I definitely was really affected and moved by the stories that I was ingesting each day from our tech advisors, who are Delta Force, Tier One Navy SEALs and Army Rangers. They’re the best of the best. Hearing their stories really affected me and some days I would need to go home and cry it out because I was trying to ingest a lot of information at once and apply it really quickly. I had to get in the mind of a soldier where you are in such high stakes situations all the time and thrust back into a more normal reality and the emotional toll that can take. Secondly, the thing that really affected me equally was the fun that we had. A lot of times, the stories we were told were so intense and then something funny would happen. I wondered how they found humor and joy in those moments that could potentially scar you. You learn so much about people and their character when you figure out what makes them laugh. Laughter can come at unexpected times.
DS: Previously you mentioned some characteristics of Lisa Davis. What’s it been like playing this role?
TT: When I was talking to women from the military, I was really interested in how women interact with each other. There’s only two regular women on our show, myself and Jessica Parè. I wanted to know if I’m rooting for her because she’s a woman, I know Toni Trucks would. In developing Davis, I love the notion that she’s really worked based. It’s really about the product. When she meets any person, it’s all about are you good at your job, are you reliable and do you execute your job. If so, Davis respects you and then moves forward from there. That’s the wiring of Lisa Davis. The proof is in the pudding. We are in such dangerous and high stakes situations and everyone needs to be functioning at the top of their game. My character is constantly asking “are you good at what you do,” and if not, then she doesn’t have a lot of time for you.
DS: David Boreanaz stars in this show as Jason Hayes. What’s been the best part of working with him?
TT: David has been such a gift to this cast. He came in for the pilot and instantly changed our dynamic for the better. He’s such a pro, he executes the work with such effortless precision and it’s a wonder to watch him do it. He can flip in and out and he’s never not having fun and that’s the most contagious part of David. When our cast is on set, we’re a little Instagram crazy because we are having so much fun all the time. We’ll be doing an intense scene and all of the sudden, David plays a song on his phone and it’s a dance party. We execute the work efficiently and we’re never not having a good time. He’s always reminding us that you can do good work, be a good person and have fun. David is a generous actor. He wonderfully puts you at ease and he takes liberties to make things feel natural and conversational.
DS: Finally, what are you most proud of in your career?
TT: I have two moments. We as actors experience enormous and mass rejection, so whenever you get a call for a job, it’s a euphoric experience. I keep an audition log and there’s years when it has been 67 auditions and three booked. Those sort of numbers take a toll on your emotional health. You go on auto pilot and you become so used to the rejection. Getting the job is so fun. I remember booking “Barbershop.” The notion of auditioning for “Barbershop” was crazy for me because I was coming from the musical theater world. Then when I booked it, I couldn’t contain myself. I remember seeing a friend from my hometown that evening and thinking about how a little girl from a tiny town in Michigan was going to be on this TV show. We were euphoric. My proudest moment had to do with “SEAL Team.” We went to the Upfront presentation and I hadn’t seen one clip from the show yet. I saw it on the Carnegie Hall stage for the first time when they showed an extended trailer to the advertisers. I just started crying, I just couldn’t contain myself. I felt pride to be part of a show like this. It looked so good, it felt so good and I was surrounded by such wonderful actors. I’ve been excited about projects in the past, but in this I really felt excited and proud. I told people that I wanted them to see this show because this show is really good. I’m proud to be part of this show.
“SEAL Team” airs Wednesday nights at 10pm EST/PST on CBS.