Tracie Thoms Tracie Thoms

Newcomer Tracie Thoms hasn't had much luck when it comes to picking TV parts that get picked up. The 30-year-old landed gigs on the short-lived series As If and Wonderfalls. But it seems like things are turning around for the Baltimore native: This week alone, she's starring in the big-budget musical adaptation of Rent and she's landed a plum part as a series regular on CBS' Cold Case (Sundays at 8 pm/ET). just had to know: Did she get any tips from Law & Order star Jesse L. Martin — who costars in Rent — on her new crime-fighting role?

"I did," she squeals. "I called Jesse while he was on set and said, 'I need to talk to you about this!' He calls me back and he's like, 'OK, Detective Thoms, what's going on?' I was like, 'Tell me what to do, I don't know how to be a detective.' He told me it would be so much fun and he asked about the background of the character and I told him I'd keep calling him to get advice from him.

"Right after I got Rent, I got an episode of Law & Order and both of my scenes were with Jesse," she continues. "So I got to work with him on a cop show and see how the dynamic works — having no idea that a year later I'd be playing my own detective on a different show. I always kind of wanted to play a cop."

Thoms' wish came true when, after filming a four-episode arc on Cold Case, producers decided they liked her enough to keep her around. Based on ratings and fan acclaim, it looks like Case might be sticking around for a while, so the enthusiastic actress might get a chance to do the same. "Before [I filmed the] fourth one, I got a letter saying they just want to go ahead and pick me up for a series regular," she says excitedly. "It is a great show and it is a great ensemble."