BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The world of 21st Century Miami and the New York suburb of Queens in the early 1980s as depicted in the EPIX series “Bridge and Tunnel” would appear to be completely different. Gigi Zumbado, who plays Tammy Ocampo on the series,” points out there are actually a lot of similarities to her early years.
Zumbado based her observations on having grown up in Florida and the work she did on “Bridge and Tunnel” the first season as the character of Tammy Ocampo. The second season of the series written, directed and produced by Edward Burns has just launched on the premium cable channel. New episodes air at 7 p.m. Sundays.
“I was actually raised on a cul-de-sac with all boys as my neighbors. They were all my age,” Zumbado says. “It is exactly like the world of ‘Bridge and Tunnel.’ Because me and my sisters were the only girls, my dad turned our garage into a place to hang out. He said if we were going to be hanging out with boys it was going to be under his roof.
“We grew up on this cul-de-sac together and it reminds me so much of the kids in this series. We were always outside playing games. Then we grew up and we started drinking together and would have beers in the garage.”
She adds that even though her own early days unfolded in Florida and the series takes place years before she was born, the two worlds come across as very parallel to Zumbado. She sees so much of her neighborhood brothers in the “Bridge and Tunnel” characters.
Part of the reason she found a similar tight bond with her acting friends that she had with her Florida friends has to do with the pandemic. The fact this group of actors had to spend so much time together made it easy for them to play the close-knit group on screen.
The series Burns created was inspired by his own youth as it looks at a group of recent college graduates who are beginning their quests to pursue their dreams in Manhattan. At the same time, they remain deeply rooted in the familiar world of their working-class Long Island hometown.
The cast of “Bridge and Tunnel” also includes Sam Vartholomeos, Caitlin Stasey, Brian Muller, Isabella Farrell and Barrett Wilbert Weed.
The second season of the six-episode, half-hour romantic comedy opens in the summer of 1981, exactly one year after the events of the last season. The friends are beginning to see their lives going in different directions.
Nobody’s life takes a more dramatic turn than Tammy’s as she goes from being a very conservative student to being the drummer for an all-female punk band. The idea of having Tammy taking such a musical path was inspired by Zumbado’s life.
“This is what’s really cool about Ed. He found out that I grew up drumming and have a very deep love for music,” Zumbado says. “He was like, “Hmm. We have a rock band on the show. How have I not heard this before?
“I told him I had not played in front of people but music was just something that was very near and dear to my heart. I am a proud fan and don’t need to be on the stage. It was not something I wanted to share with the world but it is really hard to tell Ed no.”
Despite her initial trepidations, Zumbado found that performing in front of people intensified her love of music. She points out that this isn’t a “Partridge Family” kind of band where the performances are generally faked but each actor either brought singing skills or an ability to play music to the screen.
The fact her character is growing and changing is another reflection of life imitating art for Zumbado. Despite being very close to her family in Florida, Zumbado eventually made a major career choice similar to the kind of decisions her character is making. Zumbado decided to move to California to pursue an acting career.
Moving west didn’t completely separate Zumbado from her family. When she travels to the East Coast to film episodes of “Bridge and Tunnel,” Zumbado makes sure to make a swing to Florida to see her family. She’s also got her sisters – Carmela and Marisela Zumbado – close to her as they also are working in TV and films. Zumbado credits her sisters with a lot of the acting success she has found so far. Along with “Bridge and Tunnel,” her acting credits include “Promised Land,” “The Rookie” and “9-1-1.”
“My sister couldn’t audition for a dancer role in ‘Pitch Perfect 2.’ I told her I would audition for it,” Zumbado says. “I booked it and here I am.
“I am only successful in this business because of my sisters. We have always seen it as we have two extra tickets in the raffle.”