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Take 10 with Erin Cummings: Detroit 1-8-7 actress talks the Motor City, music and filming in the D.

What was your first car?

My first car was my dad's white, 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass with t-tops and burgundy pinstriping. It had authentic vintage that had authentic vintage credibility at a time when '70s cars, fashion, etc. were all coming back. Unfortunately, I was too young, rebellious and careless to appreciate that car. What my dad kept in good condition for 15 years, I destroyed in two.

What is your favorite car memory?

One late night in my tiny college town, the dance team and the football team had an all-out car war. There were two cars for each team, armed with eggs, water guns, etc. We drove all through the neighborhoods, hunting each other down and bombing each other's cars. At one point, I made the mistake of rolling down my window and got an egg to the dash. Dried egg flew at me every time I turned on the air conditioning after that one. I'd never recommend it, but memories of that night always make me laugh.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What do you like to listen to while driving and why?

I listen to music. Radio, iPod, CDs--whatever fits my mood for that moment. I like being able to turn my brain off to the problems of the world and just groove. It puts me in a good mood so I bring my best to wherever I'm heading to.

What's your dream car and why?

I've always wanted a black on black muscle car with pink fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror. Something sexy and dangerous, with a fun accessory to remind me not to take myself too seriously.

What is your favorite car that you've ever owned and why?

My favorite car that I've owned is my Saturn SUV. It's the second Saturn that I've owned and, since the company no longer exists, I'm sad to say it's my last. I love my Saturn because it's cute and sporty but also a safe, American-made automobile that can carry a lot of stuff. And it's blue. We've been through a lot together and I love that girl.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What's your favorite Michigan memory so far?

My favorite Michigan memory is handing out Halloween candy with my family. That was the night that my cousin, Kathi Moss, gave a pair of her gloves to a cold child and inspired my community initiative, Mittens For Detroit. It was such a beautiful night of family, community and love, it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

What's it like filming in the Motor City?

It's great! The people here have been so welcoming and generous of spirit. I love that Detroit offers the small-town comfort of a community spirit but also has big city luxuries. Between the sporting events, amazing restaurants and cool, fascinating people I've met here, Detroit is like no other. And you just can't recreate this architecture on a soundstage. The diversity of the cityscape is epic.

Have you done any stunt driving while on set for a production in your career?

Yes-ish. I did a little stunt driving for a film I made called Bitch Slap. We shot out in the California desert and I got to drive the director's '53 Thunderbird through a fence and spin out in the sand. I loved it! I apparently have a habit of destroying vintage cars.

What are you looking forward to about the North American International Auto Show?

This being my first experience at the NAIAS, I am coming in with open expectations. However, Detroit being the Motor City, I know that this will be the premiere opportunity for the world to see what the auto companies have in store for us! I'm excited to see the latest models and future trends.

In what ways do you think cars have influenced American culture?

Wow, cars have had a huge impact on U.S. culture. Movies such as Rebel Without a Cause, Thelma & Louise, Bullitt, etc. Those movies all had specific cars that almost became characters. They helped to define and shape the story and were indicators of the characteristics of their drivers. The tales of drag racing down Woodward inspired movies and a rebellious youth culture in the '50s. And the mini-van pretty much birthed the term 'soccer-mom.' Um, thanks for that. ... I guess.

Rebecca Wall is the features editor at Ambassador magazine.

Erin Cummings

Dr. Abbey Ward on ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7"

HOMETOWN: Huntsville, TX

BIRTHDATE: July 19

A graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in Journalism, Erin Cummings began her professional acting career when she was spotted by an L.A. talent scout while performing in community theater near Dallas. She later went on to study Shakespeare at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, preparing her for her future roles as Lady Macbeth and Queen Gertrude in the Santa Susana Repertory Theater Company's productions of "Macbeth" and "Hamlet," respectively.

Most recently seen as Sura, the Thracian wife of Spartacus in the Starz original action-adventure drama series, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," Cummings now has a recurring role on Matt Weiner's AMC series, "Mad Men." She stars in the cult feature "Bitch Slap," directed by "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" director Rick Jacobson, and was seen alongside Martin Lawrence in Universal Studios' "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins." On TV Cummings was a series regular on the second season of "Dante's Cove," on the Here! Network. Other television work includes a guest lead turn on "Cold Case," a recurring role on "Dollhouse" and appearances on "Star Trek: Enterprise," "Threshold" and "Charmed."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Cummings trained in martial arts and weaponry for her roles in "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" as well as other features. She also dedicates her time to charities including, her newest venture Mittens for Detroit, volunteering at the L.A. Mission and inspiring students by visiting local schools to participate in hands-on science projects through the National Lab Day program.

Dream Cars

Two of the stars of "Detroit 1-8-7" tell us their favorite and first cars.

Natalie Martinez:

My favorite car is a '67 Chevelle SS.

My first car was a VW Beetle.

James McDaniel:

My favorite car is a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda with a 273 hipo and a push button, just like my Uncle Calvin's.

My first car was a 1972 Chevy Vega GT.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:COVER STORY
Author:Wall, Rebecca
Publication:Detroiter
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:1056
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