Interview: Marzy Hart

Today we’re joined by Marzy Hart. Marzy is a phenomenal filmmaker who recently founded a production company with her best friend called Besties Make Movies. She’s currently working on a film that she describes as a “genre-bending ace film” that she wrote and is acting in. She’s currently building followers for the film, so I highly recommend clicking on their links and showing them some love. It’s clear Marzy is an incredibly bright and dedicated artist with a very bright future, 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.

I’m an actor and a filmmaker. I recently formed the production company Besties Make Movies with my bestie Stacey Maltin to have more say in the stories we tell and the cast/crew we bring on to bring them to life. We’re currently working on the genre bending short film called 2 Weeks, which is inspired by my experiences with asexuality. Our director describes it as “crazy dream logic about a woman who begins to wake up to who she really is and what she needs.” We successfully crowdfunded the project on Seed & Spark but we are building followers (free) which not only helps us unlock free tools provided by the platform’s partners but it helps buyers see that there is an audience for this content. You can follow the film by going to 2weeksmovie.com and hitting “follow” to the right of the video (desktop) or below the video (mobile).

What inspires you?

Both in acting and more behind the scenes filmmaking, I’m inspired by connecting people. I like to explore topics that are surrounded by shame like asexuality, sobriety, homelessness, mental health. I’m also inspired by thinking of what life could be like so fantasy and scifi are high on my list. I want to make the world a better place whether that’s through laughter or tears.

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

I have to say, I’ve always known, even before I understood what being an artist was. TV & films served as a way for me to travel through time and live lives that weren’t my own. It’s funny that what started as an escape has very much turned into using my experiences and my stories to excel in the industry.

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?

Ahh!! I don’t but now I totally want one!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be kind to yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let it stop you. Put yourself out there. There will always be haters but your art isn’t meant for everyone.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey Ace/Demi Sexual

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

I’m making 2 Weeks because my field has been very slow to give any representation to the ace community. Most people I’ve shared the project with have been very supportive and curious about it. We’ll see what happens once we film and play at festivals. 2 Weeks really is my coming out. I’ve told some close friends but most people find out when I tell them the film is based on my life. A few people have asked me if I just haven’t had sex with the right person yet.

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

That it’s temporary or that people that just haven’t had sex in a while understand what it feels like.

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

This is one of the most complex identities. You are not alone, you are not broken. It’s different for everyone. You can be ace and have sex. You can be ace and not have sex. You can still have meaningful romantic relationships with/without sex if you want that. The world is not as black and white as society would like us to think that it is. The “A” in the LGBTQIA is for asexual not for ally!

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

Follow me on social media!

Instagram/Twitter: at marzapproved (Twitter)
Facebook.com/marzygotyourhart
Instagram: at bestiesmakemovies
Twitter: at bestiesmovies
Facebook.com/bestiesmakemovies
bestiesmakemovies.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Nessie

Today we’re joined by Nessie. Nessie is a phenomenal playwright from Scotland who is also working on the first draft of her first novel. When she’s not writing, Nessie also acts and directs. Nessie also participates in a medieval re-enactment society as well. It’s very clear that she has an incredible amount of passion and dedication, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a playwright, a writer more generally, an actor, and a director. I also LARP, and I am part of a mediaeval re-enactment society. I have written eight plays so far, three of which have been performed – one of them twice, the second time under a new title, Shakespeare Syndrome, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016 – and one of which had extracts read from it by professional actors at the Traverse Theatre, as part of my MSc Playwriting programme. I will graduate in November this year and recently received my degree award; I will be graduating ‘With Merit’!

My plays so far have most been quite dark, and often historically inspired. My two most recent scripts were inspired by the lives of mediaeval queens (Margaret of Anjou and Mary of Guelders, the wife of James II of Scotland), while my first ever script, This Breathing World, was heavily influences by Shakespeare’s Richard III and was set in space; I actually have a short lived Tumblr blog about my experience directing the show if you’re interested (http://thisbreathingworld-play.tumblr.com). Funnily enough, my play that has been performed twice, and at the Fringe no less, was my first foray into comedy; Antic Disposition, later retitled Shakespeare Syndrome, is a play in which several of Shakespeare’s characters visit a psychiatrist, and things go about as well as one might expect.

What inspires you?

Shakespeare’s History plays, actual history, books I read, people and events in my life and, more recently, situations and characters from the shared universe my friends and I have in LARP. My first book, which I plan to start working on as part of NaNoWriMo, is inspired by one of my characters and his family, but this character was in turn inspired by a number of different historical figures and events, from Pope Alexander VI to the Spanish Inquisition. He’s… he’s a bit of a mess. Although he is asexual, so he has that going for him, haha!

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

I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was seven years old and ‘wrote’ my first ‘book’; basically I copied out Rapunzel and drew illustrations for it, and I specifically remember her having a triangular orange dress! I briefly swapped from wanting to be a writer to wanting to be an actor when I was in high school, but I’ve always been a writer, really; whether through writing reviews for an online publication (Broadway Baby), doing one of my degrees in English and the other in Playwriting, or making up stories with my friends when I was younger (and I still do that, to be honest)! I wrote fanfiction for a while in high school – for CATS: The Musical and Dickens books mostly, because I was, and am, a person of very niche interests. For a long time my magnum opus was a fifty-three chapter fanfic called Bill Sykes detailing the backstory of the violent thug from Oliver Twist! I started writing plays during my second year of undergrad and playwriting has been my jam ever since.

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?

Honestly, my characters die a lot, but I wouldn’t say that’s a signature, more a worryingly frequent feature! A lot of them also tend to be quite wordy, and that’s a problem I have as a self proclaimed ‘word nerd’, having done two degrees with creative and analytical slants; my characters and I tend to use several words were only a few would do. One of the exceptions to this rule is Frank Lovell, my version of Shakespeare’s Francis Lovell, who was himself a historical figure; he tends to say very little and, when he does speak, it’s monosyllabic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know it’s a cliché but I would say never give up on your art, you will only get better with practice. I look back on my older scripts now and I realise how far I’ve come, especially since I was lucky enough to be able to pursue a degree in Playwriting to better understand how scripts are written and how they work. I would also say be ruthless when it comes to editing, if you’re a writer; I had a first draft of a play once that was around eighty pages long, and it was only meant to be around an hour long in performance. If it had stayed eighty pages it would have taken around two hours! I would also say, again for writers, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite; your first draft is not perfect – and don’t worry, it’s not meant to be! It doesn’t have to be, it just has to exist. As my playwriting tutor used to say, a first draft is a pile of shit with occasional nuggets of gold. She was a very unusual woman.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual. It took me a long time to get to this point, from questioning my sexuality, to thinking I was bisexual; I didn’t even know what asexuality was until very recently! I am now pretty comfortable calling myself asexual, and my friend recently bought me a shirt for my birthday that says ‘Asexual pirate isn’t interested in your booty’ (Look Human is an incredible website and has a huge range of ace themed shirts, accessories and so on. They’re not paying me to say that, I just adore this website!), which I hope to debut in public sometime soon, as it’s my first piece of clothing/accessory or anything that displays pride colours.

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

I’ve honestly been very quiet about my sexuality in public, as I feel it’s on a need to know basis, though a lot of my friends know. My family sort of knows (long story) and my Dad will sometimes make jokes about me needing to find the right person, but I know he’s joking so it’s OK. I have encountered a lot of ignorance online though, but as I haven’t encountered it personally, the ignorance being directly at the orientation and not me specifically, I can’t really say how I have handled it. I am more open about my sexuality online, and feel I’m able to be more proud of it there, as I have encountered a very loving and supportive community; in the real world, I’m not sure, and in fact I know, not everyone I know would be so understanding, sadly including some members of my immediate family.

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

Oh gosh, in my quest for discovering who I was/what asexuality was I encountered so many misconceptions; humans aren’t plants, that’s not a real orientation, you’re an emotionless robot, how can you not be interested in sex?, what’s wrong with you?, who hurt you? etc. No one hurt me, nothing’s wrong with me, I’m ace and that’s a-OK!

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

I would say that it’s perfectly valid to struggle with your orientation, especially when sex and sexual attraction seem to be regarded as the key to all happiness these days! No matter where you are on the spectrum and no matter your struggle, you are valid and you are loved. You don’t have to have it all figured out, now or in the future, and there is nothing wrong with you! You are not broken, or weird, or going through a phase. You are who you are and you should be proud of yourself. ❤

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

I am in the process of trying to put together a website but it’s very slow going. Occasionally – very occasionally – I will say something about my work on Tumblr, so that’d be the best place to hear about my work for now. For more about some of my plays, if you Google ‘Shakespeare Syndrome Edinburgh Fringe’ you may be able to find some reviews of the last play I had performed, and I think if you search ‘This Breathing World play review’, you may come across some reviews for my first ever play, from 2014!

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

Interview: Turtle

Today we’re joined by Turtle. Turtle is a phenomenal actor who is currently studying theater as an undergrad. She has a delightful passion for acting and it truly shows, as you’ll soon read. Turtle is definitely an actor with an incredibly 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’m an actor! I participated in acting programs since I was young, got involved in musicals and straight plays during summer camps and middle school, and then in high school I was in the theatre almost every season, in one way or another. Now I’m an undergrad and I’ve done one show so far, and intend to audition for another this winter. I’ve also dabbled in technical theatre, mostly stage management and scenic design.

What inspires you?

Other actors! Sure, solos and monologues are all well and good, and they make you feel important and strong and talented. But there’s nothing quite like acting opposite a scene partner who’s as into it as you are. That’s a unique sort of energy I’ve only ever found on the stage.

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

I’ve been melodramatic and energetic since I was a kid. Acting classes were a way to express that, and I really fell in love with the theatre when I was about ten and did my first stage production at a summer camp. Haven’t looked back since.

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?

That’s an interesting question. Lots of actors have certain tendencies that sort of define them. Like, she’s really bold, or he’s really realistic, or they’re very emotionally open. I’m not quite sure what it is for me. Probably that I talk really fast.

In high school I had a typecast, which is a certain archetype that you’re found suited to play. My director always cast me as the cutesy little girl. But then I got taller and gangly and obnoxious, and started botching audition sides for certain characters on purpose, so he had to branch out a bit.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When I was in high school, I thought a lot about pursuing theatre professionally, but I was always scared that I wouldn’t be good enough, or wouldn’t get paid enough, or that it was just impossible. Which I think is a common fear among artists. Somewhere along the line I had to let it go. I’m working things out as they come. Maybe I’ll major in theatre, maybe I won’t. For now, I’ll keep doing it because I’m passionate about it, and if that continues to be true, then I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Since I adopted that mindset, everything’s been a lot less stressful. I can focus on my art in the now, instead of worrying out the implications of pursuing it longterm.

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Iphigenia

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteroromantic asexual. Sometimes I consider gray-asexuality, but those feelings are always in flux, so I just identify as ace for simplicity.

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

Both my high school and undergrad theatre communities have been really open-minded, so personally, I have not.

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

Some people simplify asexuals to “people who don’t have sex,” which is far from the same thing as “not experiencing sexual attraction.” Personally, the differentiation is a little unnecessary, but there are aces out there who do have sex for any number of reasons apart from sexual attraction, and their orientations are just as valid as mine. For that reason, I disagree with that simplification of what asexuality is.

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

There’s nothing wrong with identifying with what makes you comfortable now. A lot of my hesitancy with calling myself asexual at first came from an uncertainty that the description would fit me permanently. Pro-tip: it doesn’t have to! Sexuality is fluid. Identify as what you like, when you like. Choose labels when they are useful to you, discard them when they cease to be. That’s fine. People grow and change and there’s no reason the way you identify can’t reflect that.

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

If all goes well, check me on Broadway in ten or fifteen years. Until then, not much publicity out there for undergrad actors.

As for my involvement in the ace community, I co-admin an asexuality info and advice blog, www.blazinaces.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Nora Rose

Today we’re joined by Nora Rose. Nora is a phenomenal artist who does a bit of everything. She’s a passionate writer who does everything from novels to fanfiction. When she’s not writing, Nora is also an avid cook, an actor, and an audiobook narrator (I think that’s a first for Asexual Artists). Whatever art she’s working on, Nora throws herself fully into it. She’s an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated artist, 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.

I have my fingers in a lot of pies. I’m a fanfiction writer, an unpublished novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, an amateur actor, an audiobook narrator, and aspiring cook.

Writing has been a passion since I was in second grade, and I’ve been pursuing it as a habit and career since I was eleven. My senior project for my undergrad degree was a play in one act that I wrote. I’ve been writing fanfiction for almost as long.

I studied theater at college. I fell in love with acting in high school, and I was probably the first person in my grade who knew what they were going to major in. My grandest moment was as Mrs. Bennett in a stage rendition of “Pride & Prejudice” that our director was writing.

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Mrs. Bennet

Unfortunately, since graduating I haven’t had much chance to do any acting, but I would love to end up in television–writing, acting, directing, and producing.

The audiobook narrating was unexpected. I did some live voicework for some friends’ senior shows in college, and afterwards had people come up to me and tell me I should pursue it. I never really thought I would until it turned out the son of my parents’ neighbor had just self-published a book and wanted to do an audiobook. I was just about to move to the same city he lives so we connected, and I’ve recorded the first two books of his series.

Growing up, I hated cooking. I think it was part rebelling against the expectations of being a housewife someday and part the fact that I’m a picky eater. One summer during college, however, I was doing a summer semester and was bored out of my mind. So I started making a whole bunch of different foods–mostly desserts–for my landlady. Someday soon I want to actually go to culinary school and maybe eventually open a little bistro.

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Fruit Pie

What inspires you?

I’ve found that inspiration for me can come from anywhere. It can come from that one image in a dream that sticks long after waking up. It can come from a personal story someone told me that sounded like something out of a fairytale. It can come from real life experiences where the emotions were loud and visceral. It can come from a visual of certain actors in certain costumes or situations. I can be inspired by an actor that makes me cry. And, of course, the Food Network and Pinterest can be extremely inspiring when it comes to cooking.

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

As for writing, I’ve loved it so long I honestly have no idea what got me interested. I finally decided to start writing my own books after falling in love with Tamora Pierce’s “The Song of the Lioness” series.

Acting, it was the first director I had in high school. The first play I was in, I was just a somebody. The second one, he cast me as the lead female part. He took a chance on me, and he believed in me, and I fell in love.

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As You Like It

Narrating was explained a little in the first question, but I really decided I liked it once I started and realized it was a form of acting. While I wasn’t on stage or in front of a camera, I got to act and put heart into it, and it was a relief to be doing that again.

Cooking was boredom. I’ve really fallen in love with cooking because I love feeding people. It’s just like storytelling–I get to give people this beautiful thing I’ve created and I love watching their reactions.

Have I always wanted to be an artist? Yes. I don’t know that I could be anything else.

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?

Not really.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This is cliché, but just do it. As someone with mental illness, trust me, I know it can be hard sometimes to motivate yourself even to do the things you love. But you have to. Don’t let it stress you out, of course, because then you’ll start to hate it. But do little things. If you write, but you’re having trouble getting any words down, outline. If you act, but you’re having trouble getting out the auditions, act out some of your favorite movie scenes in the shower. Do what little you can.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, poly, panromantic. I’m not sex repulsed, but I’m not really interested too much in sex. It doesn’t faze me usually. I like having sex, but I forget that it’s an option a lot of the time, and I’m in a committed relationship with someone with a high sex drive. I’ll watch porn and I read porn, but if I’m not in exactly the right mood for it, I get bored really quickly.

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

The only example I can think of that happened in any of my fields was once I was discussing with the producer of the audiobooks I’ve worked on other types of books I’d be interested in narrating. He made some comment assuming that I’d like to steer clear of romance novels. I said, actually, I wouldn’t mind. In fact, someday in the future, I plan on narrating my fiancé’s novels, most of which fall in the category of “romance”. He then made some comment assuming I’d like to stay away from more hardcore stuff, and again, I said actually, I don’t mind. I’m asexual, I said, so it really doesn’t faze me. The rest of the elevator ride was quiet and uncomfortable.

I talked to my fiancé about it afterwards. That’s how I deal with most things. It felt a little funny. It was kind of tiring. I didn’t know how to react, really, because in this particular situation–wouldn’t that be an advantage? Why should it matter if it’s actually going to make both your job and my job easier? It never came up again. I guess we’ll see if it does if I ever narrate a romance produced by him.

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Orchard

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

Mostly I’ve just met people who had no idea what it meant and said as much. Who’d either never heard the term or only had in high school biology talking about asexual reproduction. Luckily, most of the time they just ask, and I’m able to explain in a way that I’m comfortable with, saying this is a general definition, and this is what it means in my case.

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

It’s a spectrum. It’s a moving spectrum. Do you know how old I was when I realized I was asexual? Twenty-three. For a while I even thought I hadn’t always been asexual. But the more time goes on, the more I look back, I just realize that I’ve simply become more comfortable with my asexuality and let that color how my life is. Don’t stress. If you used to think you were straight, or if you used to think you were demi, or if you’re certain you’re into women but the idea of sex freaks you out? It’s a scale. Things change. And you’re allowed to feel more ways than one.

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

Check out my Tumblr at nrsully.tumblr.com and my Facebook page at Nora Rose Sullivan. You can find the audiobook for “Orchard” on Audible here. You can also find my more recent fanfiction on AO3 at Briar_Elwood.

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Curious Savage

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

Interview: Tempest Wisdom

Today we’re joined by Tempest Wisdom. Tempest is a fantastically talented actor who is studying at University of Chicago. She specializes in physical comedy and improv. Tempest also has aspirations to direct one day. It’s very clear that she loves acting, 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.

I am an actor at the University of Chicago! I am interested in many styles of acting, but I am most interested in (and best at) physical comedy and improvisation. Most recently, I played the twin brothers Antipholus & Antipholus in Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors.” Right now, I am most involved in the University of Chicago’s Commedia dell’Arte troupe. Commedia is a VERY old form of Italian masked comedy that uses stock characters and scenarios to create humor. One of my friends in the troupe (our artistic director!) says that it’s improv with the hard parts taken out — you already know your character and the basics of the scene, so you’re free to play! Commedia was an extremely important and influential moment in theater history: it gave rise to everything from modern clowning to ballet. You know the word “slapstick?” That’s Commedia, too. “Harlequin?” Commedia. “Pants?” Even that comes from Commedia.

My character specifically is a lover. His primary occupation is being vapid and pretty and in love. One of the neat things about having stock characters is that I am playing a character who has been embodied literally countless times by countless actors since the 1600s. I am from a long line of lovers, all of whom are their own versions of that basic character skeleton of “pretty, vain, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” My character even crops up in fiction! The vampire Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles played a lover with the same name (Lelio) in a Commedia troupe once upon a time. Something tells me our interpretations are a little different.

Basically, my art involves doing silly things with my body and face to make people laugh. I cannot think of anything better to do with my time.

What inspires you?

To be completely honest, I am incredibly motivated by attention and laughter. But if you’re looking for a more serious, artistic answer, I am fascinated by the performative aspect of theater, by which I mean the relationship between audience and performer and how to give a genuine performance onstage, whether you’re doing intense realism where you have to genuinely believe that you’re standing in your living room, arguing with your real-life wife despite the fact that there is a room full of people staring at you and you’re actually yelling at another actor or whether you’re in a musical and have to find a way to make speaking directly to the audience and singing and dancing and holding for laughs a natural, real thing to do while allowing yourself to believe that your character is a real person and that this IS your day-to-day life and that it is all true and immediate and your emotions are genuine. What it means to be onstage and be watched is very interesting to me and is actually going to be the subject of my thesis project next year.

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

I have no idea. I don’t think I ever considered the possibility of NOT being involved in theater. My mom is also an actress, so my sister and I grew up listening to musical soundtracks and that kind of stuff. I’m also just very, very extroverted, so this is a pretty natural outlet for me.

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 think the beauty of acting is that if you’re doing it right, YOU are the special signature!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This is a really great question because I actually want to teach theater for a living so I love being asked stuff like this! Of course I want to say all of the “follow your dreams, don’t give up, keep creating” stuff that is super important to know, but I have a couple more specific things to say that I don’t think are said enough. Thing #1 is one of the most important things I was told by one of my mentors: you are enough. A lot of aspiring actors seem to think that you need to try so, so hard all the time and be Acting all the time or you’re not doing enough, which is simply not true. You bring more to the table than you think you do, and you don’t need to Shatner it up to give a good performance.

Thing #2 is another really important thing to remember: fail. You are going to. A bunch. You’re gonna make terrible art and you’re gonna fall flat on your face onstage and you’re gonna feel like a total loser. It does not make you a bad actor or director or improver or whatever it is you do. What it means is that you were taking risks, which is part of the process and what allows you to make really great art. Being vulnerable onstage is a HUGE part of performance, and you aren’t really vulnerable if there’s no risk involved. If and when you fail, do it spectacularly. Don’t just stumble and try to brush it off and pretend that you didn’t. Instead, stumble and trip and fall all the way down the stairs and accidentally rip your pants and EMBRACE IT. Apologize for nothing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but who the heck knows where.

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

Theater is a pretty queer industry, and UChicago is a pretty queer campus, so people are generally knowledgeable and accepting. I have had to explain what asexuality is and what it means for me, specifically, but those are usually conversations with people who are curious, a little uncomfortable, but love their queer/LGBT+ friends and want to be good allies to them. I pride myself on being a forceful personality, so I don’t think anyone would ever challenge me to my face about, for example, identifying as queer as well as aro/ace. In general, my experience has been that people are kind and educated, and if they aren’t, they are more than willing to learn.

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

I’ve noticed a tendency to conflate asexuality and aromanticism. I have a memory of before I started identifying as aro-spec, when I made a joke about pick-up lines or something like that, and a friend of mine was like “but aren’t you ACE????” It really annoys me when people don’t get or don’t accept that a lot of people experience romantic and sexual attraction differently and that one is possible without the other.

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

I would say that labels are great and validating and all that, but don’t worry about justifying yourself and your experiences to anyone but yourself. I definitely don’t identify with everything I’ve read or heard about asexuality, and I DEFINITELY don’t identify with everything about aromanticism. And that’s cool. There isn’t a citizenship exam or a diagnosis or anything like that. That can be kind of rough if, like me, you REALLY LIKE LABELING YOURSELF, but trust me, it feels way better to base your identity off of your experiences rather than some kind of nonexistent “you must be this tall to ride” scale.

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

In all honesty, the internet is a great resource for general Commedia stuff— learn about our stock characters, look at pictures of the masks (they’re very weird!! I really like them) and check out some filmed performances. As for my stuff in particular, we have lots of good photos on our Facebook page at U of C Commedia. I’m the one pouting, usually. I’ve also included some pictures of the production of “Comedy of Errors” I just starred in, which was GREAT fun. The rest of those pics are on Facebook at University Theater at the University of Chicago.

commedia

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

Interview: Darian

Today we’re joined by Darian. Darian is a wonderful actor who is so incredibly passionate about her field. She has a Bachelor’s in acting and you’ll soon see that she has a true love of the art. In her email, Darian mentioned how much she would have loved to have seen someone acting while ace. Here’s hoping other ace actors are inspired by her example. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an actor who dabbles in many different arts. I play a couple instruments (the keyboard, organ, ukulele, and flute). I paint (acrylics and watercolors). I also have an Etsy where I sell some fleece plushes that are kind of adorable if I may say so myself. I cosplay too from time to time. Acting is something that I love to do more than anything else though.

To tell stories is one of my greatest joys. Making people feel something is just so indescribably fulfilling to me. Any actor will tell you that acting is just “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” but that doesn’t really tell you much? You’re embodying the fullest version of yourself if you were in that character’s situation. It is so rewarding to work so hard at something that is so prevalent in our culture. Many people see acting as easy or brainless, but actors are some of the smartest people. I’m not talking physics or biology wise (although Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist and Natalie Portman went to Harvard, speaks 6 languages, and has a Bachelor’s in Psychology so…), but we read people, we interact with people for a living. We’re constantly learning new things. Art is the language of humanity.

What inspires you?

People inspire me. Stories. I’m constantly inspired by everything around me. I do experience intense bursts of creative energy when I am surrounded by people also doing creative things. As an actor you have to draw inspiration from your own life and be able to interpret that for the stage or screen.

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

To be perfectly honest, I first found an interest in acting in 8th grade at an assembly when the drama class did their “anti-drug skit” and I just thought to myself “I could totally do this better than them.” It wasn’t seeing a particular movie or play or tv show, it was snobbery. Now it’s mainly people telling me and others that I am not good enough. I transferred from a state college to a university and in the process of auditioning one of my professors decided to tell me I wouldn’t make it as an actress. The joke’s on him because I’ve been cast twice in two weeks since graduating university!

I did always want to be an artist. My parents wanted me to have money. I basically had to prove that I would be okay living on very little money. For a while I kind of masqueraded as though I would be a scientist. Now I see that is probably a ridiculous metaphor for me pretending to be straight… anyways I went from Astrobiologist to Astrophysicist. No matter what I knew I wanted to do stuff with space. I am very much a “Space Ace” as evidenced by my crying with joy at the discovery of Earth’s mini moon. I’m still super interested in science but not enough to pursue a career.

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?

Actors have superstitions and rituals sometimes. I kind of just have rules: No saying the name of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, eat something you enjoy before a performance, and *if* you’re going to talk before a performance or audition, make it a warm-up with tongue twisters or something.

I don’t really include anything specifically in my work. In my paintings I kind of sign my initials when I remember. On my Etsy, though, the colors I use in my branding are those of suicide awareness because I actually lost someone fairly recently.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t listen to people when they tell you that you aren’t good enough. Take more lessons, further your education, keep practicing. You’ll get better with time.They say it takes 20 years to make a great actor; I’m sure that applies to every art.

Some people have a natural ability and some have a honed ability. Everyone benefits from practice. Don’t compare yourself to others, learn from them. (Also the people with natural abilities sometimes can’t talk about how they do what they do, the highest form of understanding something is if you can adequately teach it.

Make stuff that you want to see. If no one is asking you to make something for them, just make things you want in the world and people will find you and ask you to do more of what you love to do.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cisgender woman and a heteromantic asexual. I’m demiromantic.

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

Actually, yeah. It’s kind of part ignorance part bullying? I’m not going to sugarcoat it: People don’t like when you talk about how you don’t experience sexual attraction. Occasionally you’ll find someone who is okay with it but few and far between. That doesn’t mean you should stop but just be aware that it will happen.

At my college I had a professor saying to me “So you’re saying you wouldn’t suck a dick for a million dollars” upon me saying I don’t experience sexual attraction. Like, actually no that’s not what I said at all. At my university I experienced a professor saying “Well, sorry you’re not going to find any plays that aren’t about sex.” when I simply stated that I hadn’t be in a relationship and that I was asexual when I was having a hard time emotionally connecting to a monologue. (For reference for other asexuals I have used my relationship with my best friend to connect and once as a joke I used my love for mac and cheese during that professor’s class, it worked and she was none the wiser.) Find what works for you to connect. You don’t have to feel sexual attraction for it to look like you’re attracted to the person. Plus there are so many theatre pieces that don’t even have romance let alone sex!

Also you experience people you might consider friends who just kind of slyly make “jokes” or talk about how “every human being wants sex” even though you’ve talked to them at length about how you don’t and then you remind them and then they just say “Yeah, but you don’t count.” You count. Always. Personally I’m of the mantra of “Fuck people that say that” because if they were really your friend you wouldn’t have to constantly be reminding them of this integral fact about yourself. Friends care about their friends. I’m not saying they can’t have other things going on that may or may not take priority in their lives, which is true and perfectly fine. I’m saying that whether they realize it or not they’re saying you “don’t count” as human and you always do. Are you a member of homo sapien sapien? Congrats! You count as human! Your friends will not say this over and over if you have made it apparent to them how it makes you feel.

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

The most common misconception is that I’m stunted in some way. Either I’m childish or I don’t like hearing sex jokes or I can’t make them or I’m bratty or a bitch or I think I’m better than people because I don’t have/want sex. None of this is true of anyone who is asexual, solely because they are ace. They might just be dicks, but that’s not because they are ace. Also if I’m better than you it’s probably because you’re not even meeting the minimum requirements for basic human decency let alone being a good friend.

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

Dude, I struggle. I’m constantly struggling. Any advice you’ve been able to glean from this interview is what I want people to know. Whatever you feel you identify as, go confidently in it. Only be shy about it if you do not feel safe. If you can, make it clear on a first date what your expectations are up front before you get too invested. That being said, keep yourself open! Be an actor in your everyday life! Experience life in the moment and don’t forget to have a good time! (whoops this is advice for everyone) You can’t let the fear of loneliness keep you from missing out. I have a near crippling fear of loneliness, you gotta just find ways around it until your fear fears you.

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

Shameless promotion time? Okay! Find me on Tumblr at royalpinkdryad.tumblr.com, on YouTube at FiveUntilPlaces (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFC-nJSFYpAtYJ5gSsZrQZA) and then on Etsy at FiveUntilPlaces too (https://www.etsy.com/shop/FiveUntilPlaces)! I also have a Facebook and Instagram for my Etsy as well but all those links you can find on my Etsy so if you wanna go there then you can find that stuff.

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

Interview: Robin

Today we’re joined by Robin. Robin is absolutely wonderful artist who works in filmmaking. He’s a screenwriter, a video editor, and an actor. Some of his films have already been selections in film festivals. The links he sent along are fascinating shorts. There are two horror shorts (“The Music of Erika Zann” and “Memento Mori”) and a noir (”I Blog Alone”), which are awesome genres. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

I Blog Alone
Still from “I Blog Alone”

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a screenwriter, video editor, and actor.  I’m a part of Portland, OR’s Wheelhouse Media.  We mostly do short films, horror, but we’re looking to branch out.  We currently have a superhero satire piece in the works and we’re hoping to do our first feature in 2016.  I’ve adapted the HP Lovecraft short story “The Music of Erich Zann,” into a short film, “The Music of Erika Zann,” and this year wrote a short inspired by the Gabriel Knight video game series entitled Memento Mori.

What inspires you?

I really like hearing other people’s stories.  I’ve been lucky enough to live in a lot of places and meet a lot of kind and interesting people which has enriched my own life.  Also, the collaborative nature of filmmaking.  I love bouncing ideas off people and watching them grow.

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

I didn’t really discover my talent for writing until I got into college.  It took me a while to figure out my passion for film too.  I was taking a course on Major Filmmakers where our professor showed us some of the great underappreciated directors.  I remember watching The Red Shoes and really seeing what film was capable of and thinking “damn, I want to do this.”

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

I like to put little nods to my friends in my work.  Either naming characters after them or using a little quirk from someone I know.  I’m from New Jersey and like using references to there too.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep at it.  It takes as much time to not make anything as it does to make something.  Even if it’s bad, it’s a learning experience.  And if enough people see your bad work, someone will want to work with you to make good work with.

Memento Mori
Still from “Memento Mori”

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m heteromantic demisexual.

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

As of this writing, I’m only out to one producer who happens to be a friend of mine.  Of the ignorance I’ve encountered outside of my field, it’s mostly just been about the existence of asexuality rather than misconceptions about it.  The people I have come out to have been fantastic and supportive about it.

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

Mostly that people don’t believe it’s real.  Sometimes it seems the more you explain it (the spectrum, demi and graysexuality) that you’re getting away from a definition by broadening it too much.  When I first came out to my friends, I did have to explain that yes, we can date and form meaningful relationships without sexual attraction.  Like I said though, I’ve been lucky that I’m surrounded my caring and supportive people.

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

Like all the blogs say, you and your sexuality are valid and you’re not alone.  And if even if you’re not sure, it’s okay to take time to find out.

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

My blog is RobIsAWriter.Tumblr.com.  I don’t update it as much as I’d like to but I’m planning on turning into a home for short fiction and other film projects next year, including a documentary project I’m currently planning.  You can also like Wheelhouse Media on Facebook.

The Music of Erika Zann
Still from “The Music of Erika Zann”

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