The star attorney in the new fall series Made in Jersey might have big hair and attitude, but Martina Garretti is not the stereotypical Jersey party girl seen on reality TV. “She is super smart and ambitious and wholesome,” says Dana Calvo, the CBS show’s creator and co-executive producer.
Calvo, who grew up in Burlington County and has written for shows like Covert Affairs on USA and Franklin & Bash on TNT, hoped to find a Garden State native for the role. “I had this fantasy that we would cast an actual Jersey girl right off a Greyhound bus,” she says. After hundreds of auditions, Calvo and her team still had not discovered their Garretti. “She had to be smart and funny but unbelievably vulnerable in an instant, and beautiful,” Calvo says.
Then they watched Janet Montgomery’s audition via Skype. “She was our girl,” Calvo says.
There was just one catch: Montgomery, 20-something, is British, a native of Bournemouth, on England’s version of the Shore, the southern coast.
Montgomery has an international resume but is no stranger to American TV and film, having appeared on HBO’s Entourage and Fox’s Human Target and in the movies Black Swan and Our Idiot Brother. Still, she has never played a character like Garretti. “This is just totally new and something that managed to click,” she says in her airy and elegant English accent.
When she started preparing for the role, Montgomery asked Calvo if she should get a fake tan and watch a few episodes of Jersey Shore and Jerseylicious. “I said, ‘No, no, no, that doesn’t sound like a show you should be watching,’” says Calvo. Made in Jersey is meant to reflect the diverse, family-oriented Jersey culture Calvo remembers from her childhood. “I just sort of wanted to settle the score a little bit and tell the story of the state that I knew,” she says.
In the series, due to premiere at 9 pm on September 28, Garretti is the first person in her fictional, blue-collar, Italian family to go to college—let alone law school—and has worked her way into a high-powered Manhattan law firm. “She may be a fish out of water,” says Calvo, “but she knows exactly who she is, and she is the product of this solid upbringing.”
Montgomery didn’t have time before filming the pilot to visit the Garden State, but she did listen to Bruce Springsteen and watch Working Girl and movies like My Cousin Vinny—flicks she says Garretti’s family might have watched. “Those things work,” Montgomery says. She has also been working with a dialect coach on the set in New York.
After living out of a suitcase for the past three years, Montgomery is happy to settle down while she focuses on her new role. “This is it now,” she says. “I am a New Jersey girl.”Click here to leave a comment