When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf states on Aug. 29, 2005, Tawny Cypress was consumed with worry. The Brooklyn-based actress—who stars in the new Fox drama K-Ville, premiering Sept. 17—hadn’t spoken to her estranged father, New Orleans resident Gene Cypress, 59, in years. Suddenly she feared she might never hear his voice again. “I didn’t want to lose my dad like that,” she recalls. She posted a message on a Web page for Katrina victims: “Daddy, I’m very worried about you. Please let us know what’s going on. Take care of yourself. Love, Tawny.”
It had been eight years since Cypress, 31, had seen her father, a Vietnam War vet and “roamer,” she says, who divorced her mother before she was born. In that time she had married, had a son, divorced and appeared on such shows as NYPD Blue, Third Watch and Heroes. Now she plays police officer Ginger LeBeau on K-Ville, which just happens to be set in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Her own hurricane story has a happy ending: A week and a half after posting her message, Cypress got a call from Gene, who had heard she was looking for him from a relative. She invited him to visit her in Brooklyn; a few weeks later, he did. “It was overwhelming,” she says of the reunion. Now she is working in the Big Easy on her new show and building a new relationship with her dad, whom she talks to often. “We’re taking it slow,” she says. “But it’s wonderful. Out of Katrina, I got my dad back.”