Interview: Riley

Today we’re joined by Riley. Riley is a phenomenal performance artist who does a bit of everything. She dances, acts, sings, and even does public speaking. Riley is a fascinating artist with an incredible presence, as you’ll soon read. She’s an artist to watch and definitely has a very bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I dance, act, and sing, and do public speaking! I’ve also dabbled in expanding those specific interests of mine by choreographing, playwriting, songwriting, and I’ve started a YouTube channel where I can focus my speechwriting.

What inspires you?

I always find myself so inspired by other people who can break the mold of their art forms and selves. I’m also inspired by the idea that I could fill that same role for another person.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

My mother was a dancer, but how I found a love for acting, singing, and otherwise performing, I haven’t got a clue where the passion originated. I do think that I’ve always wanted to be an artist- performing was, is, and will always be a part of my life.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I like to bring my knowledge of acting into each of the art forms I am involved in. I think that understanding character, role, and the ability to outwardly perform that in any artistic production is an integral piece that I hope to bring to all of my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and never ever stop. I know how cliché it sounds, but it’s so true! If you love it, keep at it, and keep reminding yourself that you love it, even if it gets tough (and it will get tough).

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aro-ace, but really my sexuality is just one big shrug emoji ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Grade 11 was my first onstage kiss… Or it was supposed to be, anyways. It ended up more as some weird mashing of lip corners, cheeks, and chins. My inability to properly articulate my odium and quasi-fear of romantic interactions led to an angry director and a hurt castmate, and my attempts at explanations only led to anger and confusion.

Every child has heard the “advice”: if you break a plate while washing dishes, you’ll never be asked to do the dishes again. That’s seemed to work for me- I haven’t had a PDA role in the three years since performing that scene.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

“Asexuality is biologically impossible, humans were made to copulate and procreate”, to which I eye roll so hard I strain a muscle. I just don’t like the idea of sex- and romanticism is a man-made and societally enforced idea. Nothing in the animal kingdom are holding hands and bringing each other flowers. If you like it, you do it. It’s just not really my style.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

If you want to adopt a label, do it! If you don’t, that’s cool too! Orientation is about comfortability for yourself. Don’t be afraid to chuck a label you’ve found for yourself and pick up a new one if it’s a better fit. Life is too short for constrictions you’ve set for yourself.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find my dance videos and some of my rants on YouTube, and I have some more videos and updates on my Instagram and Tumblr! Come and chat!

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Thank you, Riley, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Abby Bender

Today we’re joined by Abby Bender. Abby is a wonderful young up and coming performance artist who is studying acting at my alma mater, Beloit. She is a very passionate and talented artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am Studying Theatre Performance in College

What inspires you?

The ability to become someone else and look at the world through a different set of eyes. This idea helps me grow and change as an actor.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I started acting in middle school and I thought it was a great way to express myself because before that I was very shy.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t. I am still learning about the field but it makes me happy to just learn about.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Put yourself out there. If you are scared you are doing something right. Challenge yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a lithromantic Asexual

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not directly, but I struggle with playing sexual characters. I have no experience to pull from. I am often type cast as the young innocent girl.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

How it is portrayed. I know a lot of people who have heard of asexuality but when I ask them about it they have wild misconceptions and when I try to correct them they tell me I’m wrong.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong. Everyone experiences their orientation differently. You are perfect.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

People can follow my Instagram: _abby_bender_ I sometimes post about the shows I’m in.

Or email me directly at benderac@beloit.edu. I’m open to discussing a lot of things.

Thank you, Abby, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Beth

Today we’re joined by Beth. Beth is a wonderful young actor and writer. For writing, they write a mix of fanfiction and short stories. They studied English Literature in college and have had a passion for writing for most of their life. As for acting, Beth is part of an amateur acting group and loves the theater. They have an incredible passion and enthusiasm, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m 19 so I’m not mega experienced but I have been writing and acting since I was a child.

Acting

I’m studying drama and theatre studies at college. I’m a part of ‘Hessle Theatre Company,’ I’ve performed at Hull Truck theatre, Hull New Theatre. More notably I performed in an amateur acting course on Shakespeare’s Globe. I’m a City of Culture 2017 volunteer so I’ve done a lot of small performances through that. I performed in ‘into the light’ a dance for UK pride, choreographed by Gary Clarke.

Writing

I also study English literature at college. I’ve been writing my entire life really. When I was given crayons in a restaurant I’d write stories while other kids would draw. I’ve posted a fanfiction about an ace character on Archive of Our Own (pink_haired_hunter). I haven’t shown my work to most people. The fan fictions I post are always drabbles and I usually delete them pretty soon after they’re published. I’ve shown my English teacher my work and she loves it, she was really impressed with my poetry but I can’t see myself doing that. My stories are good but I struggle to finish them without getting angry and throwing them out.

What inspires you?

Acting

I use method acting, I have even before I knew it was a thing. I really feel my role so my inspiration comes from my character and my own life experiences which I can relate them to I guess.

Writing

I don’t even know. I have thousands of ideas squashed into my head so I normally write just to get them out and on to paper. I have insomnia because all the story’s that won’t shut up and let me sleep ahaha I take inspiration from what I see in everyday life. I’ll see a person on the bus and think you’d make a brilliant character and then just let my imagination take me where it wants. I can literally be inspired by anything, litter on the floor, a car, a wall, there isn’t many particular things.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always wanted to be an artist of some kind, though I’ve frequently fluctuated on what type of artist I want to be. I’ve always been a very emotional, creative, individual and socially observant person. (Not being arrogant or anything, they’re just my best traits :/) I’ve constantly been called weird but who wants to be normal anyway? But really I’ve always been an artist at heart, there was never one moment or a trigger where I decided that.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

No not really. I’m not really the planning type so every idea is always completely new and different from the other.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Go for it. The worst thing I think is when people don’t try and achieve their dreams because they’re ‘unrealistic.’ The amount of people who have told me to aim for something more achievable or to utilise my talents because I’m academic is ridiculous. Somebody gets to be an actor or a novelist, why can’t it be me? There is no reason why we can’t all achieve what we want to be, just don’t let other people restrict you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

No sexual or romantic attraction whatsoever

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Definitely ignorance. I mean, I’ve had quite a few people try to flirt with me and I’ll tell them: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested. I’m asexual and aromantic.” And then of course I have to explain what it is, which I don’t mind doing, I know not everyone knows about it and that’s fine. (It is a bit annoying the amount of people who’ve asked if I was a plant though!) And most people are you know, shocked. A lot of them don’t understand it, which I think is weird because it’s a pretty simple concept. Most people accept it though and leave me alone. A few, of course, don’t. I get the people who think “I just haven’t met the right person” or that “I don’t know until I try” wink wink. Which is uncomfortable, especially when they know I’m clearly not interested and still continue to try and flirt with me. Luckily I’ve never felt threatened in these circumstances, as they eventually leave but the issue is that I always have this fear that one time it will turn.

Prejudice wise the most I get is probably that same ignorance, sexual pressure and just the lack of acknowledgement (in terms of media or social awareness). My parents completely dismiss my sexuality and still continue to presume that I will end up married in a heterosexual relationship with kids. And on top of that dismissal I have accepting friends who don’t think acephobia is a thing and people in the LGBTQ+ community who don’t welcome or accept me. I feel as though everyone is always trying to pressure me into having sexual relations and I really hate that.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s not real. That’s it’s a side effect of my medication. That I’ll grow out of it.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

At the end of the day, I wear my label loose. I identify as asexual and aromantic but if those feelings change then they change. As much as I love labels to feel like a part of a group, to feel understood and validated… I also don’t want to feel trapped in my label. I might develop romantic or sexual feelings and that’s okay but for now I haven’t and that’s also okay. My main advice would be to not let it worry you so much. Tell people about it if you feel confident enough to but don’t feel like you have to because it often isn’t relevant. I don’t think anyone should have to ‘come out’ but at the same time I don’t think you should hide what you are either.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’m performing in ‘The Producers’ at Hull New Theatre

My Tumblr is: iconic-ironic-insomnic
My archiveofourown is: pink_haired_hunter

There are videos of ‘into the light’ on YouTube and a documentary coming up soon. Think that’s it 🙂

Thank you, Beth, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Leon

Today we’re joined by Leon. Leon is a wonderful writer and dabbles in crafts. They are an eclectic artist who has done a bit of everything. They have worked in theater (acting, tech, stage management, directing) and do quite a bit of writing. When they’re not writing, they also do a lot of knitting as well as coloring. It’s very clear they’re a passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’d consider myself something of a ‘jack of many (creative) trades’. I have a short attention span, the constant need to be busy, a long-standing habit of having whimsical trains of thoughts I can hardly keep track of myself and I grew up with the internet where any number of basic skill sets are a quick Google search away. I collect funny little ideas and random hobbies and nifty bits of information that eventually I figure I will find use for (like book binding … haven’t gotten around to using that info quite yet but some day)

I’ve been a storyteller practically my whole life and a writer for most of that. My dad was a writer, so I picked that up from him. I got involved with theater during middle and high school. First acting, then various back stage and tech theater works. I lived in a small town a few years ago where I was the designated ’emergency backup’ person for the local theater company, always available for lighting, sound, props, painting, costumes, whatever they needed. I picked up knitting in my early teens, played around with that, taught myself how to knit plush animals and dolls and such. I’ve made several based on some of my favorite video game characters. I also like just experimenting and messing around with various creative projects.

I got really taken in by the adult coloring book trend, which has been exciting for me. I don’t really have much of a talent for drawing and that kind of visual art, and not enough patience to really develop it. But I love coloring. I love messing around with my colored pencils and my gel pens and figuring out how to make nifty little effects with glitter. I can work on multiple different pages from multiple different books as the mood suits me. Plus, I am so absolutely a crafter. So I get to think of fun ways to use the pretty colored in pages when I’m done. (I am in a ‘modge podge the heck out of everything’ phase right now) and then I get to figure out how to do those things and pick up a bunch of little crafting skills. It’s been tons of fun.

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Bat Box

What inspires you?

So many things. I have a real habit of latching on to little ideas or tropes and just trying to figure all the possible ways I could express them and in what medium and why. And then latching onto random ideas that come up when I think about this stuff.

Example: I got stuck on this nifty idea of inverting the ‘The Dead Have Names’ trope and giving a related speech to the villain. Because it’s such a ‘hero’ thing, giving it to the villain gets really chilling and strange. So then I think about the general idea of inverting tropes along those lines. Since I’ve been coloring a lot lately I start thinking about color inversions. And now I have two dragon pictures, one of which is a ‘water dragon’ which I’m going to coloring in various shades of red and orange and the other is a ‘fire dragon’ I’m going to be coloring in shades of blue.

With all the coloring I’ve been doing lately I tend to get inspired by the pages themselves. I know I want to color this or that page in with only metallic gel pens. And I’ve been working so much in color lately I’ll get color schemes stuck in my head even if I don’t know where I want to utilize them yet.

And in a more abstract sense… my dad taught me to look at creative ‘problems’ (in the loosest sense of the word) like riddles, to apply whatever creative skills/knowledge I did have to fill the rest in. So I tend to have a ‘make it up as I go’ approach to all my art/creative stuff. And that inspires me too, just trying to work out a ‘problem’, the constant thinking and wondering and ruminating.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I guess I always sort of wanted to be an artist, but I never really had a specific idea of what that meant. I liked writing so I figured I’d just … write stuff. Which I did. I liked theater so I did that too. I liked knitting and coloring and wood shop and cooking and so on.

I got the writing and storytelling thing from my dad. And everything else just sort of blossomed from that in a weird organic kind of way that I can’t really pin down, even looking back on it. A lot of the stuff I’ve learned to do was to facilitate a vague idea of storytelling. I got into tech theater, into lighting and sound design, so I could figure out how to make the best use of that to facilitate a stage show. I started knitting plush dolls of video game characters to be able to bring those characters and ideas into another aspect of my life, off the screen (also the reasoning for why I write fanfic). I love looking at the different ways people color the same coloring page because of how drastically different the end results of coloring the same image can be. I over analyze the crap out narrative heavy video games because I like seeing how different narrative tools can slot together and all of the ways video games making story telling weird or strange or unique.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

When I do visual type art (in the broadest sense) I very often end up using various pride flag colors (which makes me chuckle to myself) just because I can

I also have a serious love of inverting various tropes, just turning basic common assumptions on their head. Not so much a signature as a ‘reoccurring theme’.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Not just for the experience or for the opportunity to get better either. But because it’s fun, it makes you happy, it’s something to stave off the boredom, it keeps you busy, it just something you want to do. It’s worth doing because it’s worth doing.

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Flower Lantern

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a bi/pan ace.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Yeah, typically of the general, non-malicious ignorance variety, which usually results in me just offering some basic 101-type information.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The ‘attraction = behavior’ thing. Like the assumption that celibacy and asexually are the same thing

And because the fact that I’m trans often comes up around the same time as the fact that I’m ace comes up, I also get the ‘hey do you think maybe you’re ace because you’re trans’ thing a lot personally, usually with the implication that if this is the case it means one of those IDs is therefore less valid. Which usually results in me just going flat ‘no’ because I often don’t have the time (or emotional energy) for a long nuanced discussion.

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Metallic Bookmarks

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s okay to not totally have your orientation strictly defined. It’s okay to take time to figure it out. It’s okay if you never figure it out completely and if whatever labels you use are basically ‘as accurate as I can be right now’. It’s okay to be as specific or as nonspecific as you want, you have no obligation to define your orientation to any arbitrary degree of specification. It’s fine if your ace-ness is/was influenced by some external factor. It’s okay if you weren’t ace before but are now. It’s okay if you stop IDing as ace later. It’s okay if you only ID as ace with no other labels.

You don’t have to justify your orientation to anyone. You don’t even have to explain any more than you want. It’s fine if you can’t explain. It’s fine if you just don’t want to.

Just… you do you.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Some older tags on my blog have some of my knitting stuff.
http://i-sauntered-vaguely-downwards.tumblr.com/tagged/leon-the-ace-knitter
http://i-sauntered-vaguely-downwards.tumblr.com/tagged/leon-knits-things

I have an Etsy shop up that has the results of my ‘what can I do with these pretty colored in coloring book pages’ adventures.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ColorToTheMoon

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Metallic Cat Purple

Thank you, Leon, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Kaj

Today we’re joined by Kaj. Kaj is an awesome up-and-coming writer and a former actor. They’re writing blends a number of different genres, though they write quite a bit of fantasy. Kaj used to perform as an actor in the theater and hopes to return at some point in the future. They’re clearly and enthusiastic and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and used to be an actor.

Acting was fun, my favourite parts so far (I’m hoping to get back into it one day) were Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Mrs. Erlynne in Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. It was just my school’s drama club, but we had the reputation of doing a pretty decent job.

Writing is mostly an outlet for a lot of feelings, for things I think about, and sometimes just plain stress relief. I write basically everything. I started out with Harry Potter-ish fantasy, then crime stories, urban fantasy, and my most recent project is some kind of Fight Club inspired tragedy. -Ish. Actually, I just start writing whatever comes to my mind and see where it takes me from there. I never know what’s going to happen in a story until it happens. Party because of that (and because I keep getting distracted) I never finished one of my “big” projects. I do fine with short stories, but actual novels are usually abandoned somewhere along the way. But maybe my current idea will work out. Being almost ten chapters deep is quite a step forward for me.

What inspires you?

I started writing at a young age (I hardly remember a time where I haven’t been writing), so I have no idea anymore why I started writing in the first place.

And for the individual stories, it depends. My first big project was obviously inspired by Harry Potter. In general, it often happens that I read a book (or fic or watch a movie etc.) and get an idea about what might happen if you took /that/ element and spun it another way.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

As I said, I don’t remember when and why I started writing. But I think it’s safe to say that my love for books might have something to do with it. As soon as I could read I was hardly ever seen without a book. I think we sometimes got assignments in school to do some creative writing and I kinda noticed how much fun that is.

As long as I’ve been writing stories I also wanted to be an author – as in, a published author. And I still hope that one day I might be able to finish one of my bigger project and actually get it published. But since I have a “real” job, writing is and will always be a hobby.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

There are definitely a lot of queer characters in all my stories, but I don’t think that counts. Another constant, I think, is that my protagonists tend to be thrown into some kind of trouble so I can just watch them react. They hardly ever make the first step in the stories, it’s usually something that happens /to/ them. Reactions interest me, because there are so many ways to react to the same situation and every character behaves differently.

Also, many – if not most – of my stories /don’t end well/. Idk why, but tragedy always intrigued me. So, death and violence could probably be counted as “recurring themes”.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1. Don’t stop. No matter what kind of art you produce, keep doing it. Write short-short-short stories in the notebook on your phone. Write some sentences on the back of your homework and see if it takes you anywhere. It will get messy, you will have loose ends /everywhere/ and the amount of abandoned stories will grow daily, but that’s okay as long as you keep writing. And if you have an idea for a novel, try and work on it whenever you can. You can write the first chapter on your computer. Maybe you get an idea for the next chapter at work – scribble it down on whatever piece of paper you can find. Try to outline the plot in your head when you’re in the supermarket.

2. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s not Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to become a novel. It’s okay if you can’t write on your wanna-be novel every day. It’s okay to let stories sit on the shelf for weeks. And it’s okay to abandon stories.

3. Don’t let the muggles get you down. Don’t let anyone talk shit about what you write. Or about the fact /that/ you’re writing. You do you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. I didn’t realize until a couple of months ago, because I never gave much thought to it. I experience very strong sensual attraction, which is probably why I never thought about being ace. Only when Tumblr made me realise that sexual attraction actually means looking at someone thinking “I want sex with you” it dawned on me that I might not experience that.

I’m also pretty sure I’m aromantic. This one’s a bit tricky though, because I’m also hella romance-repulsed and I can’t quite tell if I’m not interested in romance with anyone or averse to the thought of a romantic relationship itself.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t encountered any prejudice. But that’s mostly because I’m not out in RL, and I usually don’t connect much with other writers on the internet. The only people who know about me being aroace /and/ me being a writer are close friends, most of them queer. So, I’m in a pretty good place when it comes to that.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Being asexual = not liking/having sex. I mean, it’s kinda true for me, since I’m also trans/nonbinary/agender and dysphoria makes it kinda impossible for me to undress in front of anyone, let alone have sex with them. But there are many aces out there who enjoy sex, and the orientation isn’t defined by the behavior.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s going to be okay. You’re not broken. You’re not alone. And no matter what exclusionists say, you DO belong in the LGBTQIA/Queer Community.

There are many people out there who feel like you do, and just because society tries to tell us we must always want sex with basically anyone, that doesn’t make them right and you wrong.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

On my http://daughterofhecata.tumblr.com/ blog there’s a page where you can find http://daughterofhecata.tumblr.com/stories my stories. It’s just a tiny bit of my work, because most of it is in German (my first language). Maybe I’ll add some of the German short stories as well, I’m not sure yet. I also have accounts at ff.net and AO3, but I rather not link them with my Tumblr because I’m honestly not too proud of that stuff.

(In shameless self-promoting: Janus is my favourite story so far; it’s actually the longest story I ever finished. Also, once in a lifetime I did plan ahead and outlined the story before jumping into writing.)

Thank you, Kaj, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Abby Ramsay

Today we’re joined by Abby Ramsay. Abby is a phenomenal model and actress in LA. She uses her art to raise awareness of issues close to her heart. Her Instagram has recently blown up a bit after she gave an interview about social media. Abby is a fellow ace feminist, which is always awesome to see. She’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I am an actress and model out in LA. I show off my work mostly through Instagram. Just creating these images and stories, whether they be moving or still, really gives me this outlet to express my thoughts, feelings, and ideals that I can’t always put into words.

I like to use my art to bring attention to topics like asexuality, body positivity, feminism, and mental illness as those are all things that are close to me.

I also like combining them. Everything I do is done with the mindset of “just because I am asexual does not mean I am not sexy or desirable.” but also “Just because I am viewed as sexy or desirable does not mean I can’t be asexual.”

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What inspires you?

Just the idea that I can use what I love to help people. The industry that I am in has the potential to have your voice be heard by many people all over the world. If I have the opportunity to use my platform to change it for the better then I want to do it.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have been acting since I was about 5 years old. Granted at the time the only reason I was in these musicals was because I was a really good singer at a young age, but they fed my love of storytelling. I would create plays at home and act them out for my parents, and it really blossomed into a passion by middle school. I fought long and hard with my parents (especially my mom) to let me try to get an agent, and they eventually gave in. I was a freshman in High School (2012 I believe) when I was signed with a small agency, and they sent me on my first few jobs. I was in love!

The agency also dealt with modeling, so the first photoshoot I ever did was with them. I was really shy in front of the camera at first. I had dealt with a lot of body positivity issues in the past, but the longer I was in front of the camera the more I enjoyed it. I actually felt really comfortable with myself.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Hmmmm. I guess I like to keep things natural. I have never been an over the top character actor (I mean it’s fun, but I have my preferences) so I usually try to take scenes to a more organic place. I do the same thing with my modeling. I always try to get a few pictures that represent me. There’s this idea that when you are modeling you can never smile and you always have to be sultry, but when I am working and talking to the photographer I like to smile and laugh and just be myself. Those end up being some of the best pictures.

I also do this hand on head leaning back pose a LOT. My friends give me a hard time about it haha. But it’s like my signature pose now I guess.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is not going to be easy, but with hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck you can make your art your life.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I usually just say I am asexual, but for me that means that I don’t find people sexually attractive, and I am just not interested in sex. I’m not sex repulsed and I am aesthetically and romantically attracted to people, but I would much rather kiss and cuddle than have sex.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

There have been a couple instances. When you have your work online, you usually get some not so pleasant remarks from people. You get people who want to “fix you” you which is the one that bothers me the most.

But even outside the internet, I have had some encounters that have been less than ideal. I had a teacher at my college basically say that I was too pretty to be asexual and that it would be a waste. I know she didn’t mean it the way it came out, but it’s one of the reasons we need more visibility.

I also had a fellow acting student come to the conclusion that she did not like me because she thought asexuality was stupid. I never quite understood the logic behind that.

And it’s also hard, especially in acting, because Hollywood is so sexed up that there is just this assumption that every character interaction is because they want to bone.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

OK, the idea that “you just haven’t found the right person yet” or “you won’t know unless you try” pisses me off. I have gotten both and my general response to that is “you could give me a cheap piece of raw fish or a $200 piece of raw fish, it doesn’t chance that fact that I don’t like raw fish.” and “I have never been shot before, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy that either.”

There is also the idea that if you have a mental illness or if you have been in an abusive relationship or raped that your asexuality is just a byproduct. You know, whether it is or isn’t that shouldn’t make their identity any less legitimate.

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What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You are not broken. I promise you. Your feelings are completely normal. You are a valid part of the LGBTQIA community, and though we may be a smaller group, we are full of love, no matter where we fall on the spectrum. Just be yourself.

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Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My Instagram is abbysworldsastage.

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Thank you, Abby, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Ben

Today we’re joined by Ben. Ben is a phenomenal theater actor who is also a playwright. He has mostly written tragic plays, but is currently working on an absurdist play. Aside from acting and writing, Ben is also a writer of a homebrew D&D campaign. He’s also currently taking voice lessons in order to get into musical theater. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Headshot(Fall 2016)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Primarily I am a stage actor and a playwright. I am also the writer of a homebrew (made from scratch) D&D campaign and world. As far as acting goes I am more versed in acting in straight plays than in musicals, I am not quite that skilled in singing. But I am in the process of taking voice lessons to solve that issue. With playwriting I have at this point written mainly tragic plays and am currently working on an absurdist play. I also dabble in graphic design for a YouTube channel I am involved in.

What inspires you?

I am primarily inspired by passionate people. Seeing somebody overflowing with joy and enthusiasm about something they are doing or are interested in just gets me hyped up and raring to do something myself. I am also inspired often by the people around me and current events, both of which are commonly reflected in my works. With my writing style I am also greatly inspired by the works of Tennessee Williams and other 20th century playwrights.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always wanted to do something in the arts. I started with orchestra in middle school playing the violin and when my second high school didn’t offer it I started looking for other things to get involved with. In freshman year I saw my (first) high school’s performance of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It was my first time seeing a live show of anything and I was utterly enamored by how much more real it felt than seeing films. It wasn’t until junior year of high school when I took my first drama class, and then a second year drama class my senior year. In my senior year I took the full dive into acting and got involved in every theatre related thing that went on at the school. I’ve been hooked ever since and am currently studying for a Theatre degree in college.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I have a tendency to include a lot of subtle duality in my works between character personalities and motivations. Other than that I can’t really think of much else.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice for aspiring artists is to first find others as passionate as you about the kind of art you are interested in, and second to not let anyone dissuade you with how much more difficult life is going to be. Yes work might be harder to find and you’ll absolutely receive less pay, but the ability to be doing what you love is more than worth it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. As for romantic orientation it took seemingly forever to narrow it down but sapioromantic seems the most accurate for me.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Luckily I haven’t encountered any prejudice or ignorance. Theatre is a generally progressive field in the first place, so you don’t really find much prejudice aside from the occasional diva.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The most common misconception I’ve come across is people assuming I just haven’t met the “one” yet. Or that I had one bad experience and need to try things with other people. It gets rather tedious hearing diagnoses from people about what happened/what I should do when there is really nothing in need of diagnosing.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

My advice for those struggling is to take your time figuring out the specifics of your orientation. There’s no need to rush because at the end of the day the main person who needs to know is you. No matter what the specifics may be, your identity is valid and you as a person are appreciated. And I know it’s easier said than done but don’t let the people who will give you crap about being you get into your head, if they need to stoop low enough to attack your identity, you already have the moral high ground in telling them to bug off.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

If you are in the Midwest area you can see the shows at the college I go to, Missouri Western State University. I don’t always act but I usually am involved in some way.

And if you go to Horrible People Productions at YouTube.com, you can learn about my D&D world. It is a group channel that I have with some friends at my college. There is currently only one episode of the current campaign posted but the rest will be coming out closer to fall.

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Thank you, Ben, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.