Interview: PJ

Today we’re joined by PJ. PJ is a phenomenal actress and a singer/songwriter. She’s also a YouTuber and a former state title-holder for talent. PJ has recently finished filming her first film role, which is super exciting. When she’s not working on her art, PJ is also an asexual and autism self-advocate. She’s clearly a passionate and talented 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 do a variety of things. My strength is definitely music (singing and songwriting), but I also have a passion for acting, YouTube, and modeling. I just recently finished filming my first movie (sorry, no details can be shared yet)!

In music, my strength is opera (even though ironically, I don’t like singing it that often). I’ve also written a song about asexuality/aromanticism, but since I’m not with a record label yet, I can’t really share my music with the world. I have this huge vision that can’t be done without a little help. I hope to be signed one day!

What inspires you?

Coldplay. As an autistic person, they’re my obsessive interest. If it weren’t for me being exposed to Coldplay at such a young age, I wouldn’t be involved in music at all. At 5 years old, I was already mimicking Chris Martin’s recognizable vocals. It’s honestly how I learned to sing. Coldplay inspires me on a daily basis. They’re all I really listen to. Then again, I also really love Owl City. My music is kind of like a mix between the two.

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

I’ve wanted to be a singer-songwriter and actress for as long as I can remember. My interest in YouTube started a couple years after YouTube launched. My dad was also a professional drummer, so I suppose I got some of my musicality from him. I just always knew in my heart that I was meant to enter the entertainment field; even though it’s still a bit of a struggle 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 wish I did!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Here are my 10 rules for success:

1. Go for it and don’t hold anything back. Give it your all. Be confident in your work.
2. Listen to your heart/audience. I’m only here in this position because people kept telling me, “Hey, you’re really good. Have you ever thought about putting yourself out there?” If people believe in me, I’m not going to let them down. It was people encouraging me to be my best that got me this far.
3. As for the haters, just ignore them (which I know, can be difficult). Haters come and go. Followers stick around as long as you do.
4. Be your awesome self! If people don’t like that, too bad. They’re probably missing out on how wonderful you really are.
5. Reach out. Some connections are pretty important.
6. Keep perfecting your craft. Your work can ALWAYS use improvement; even if you think it doesn’t. I’ve surprised myself a lot. I always thought I was done, but then switched a few things up and-BAM! It was even better than before!
7. Keep persisting and working. If you’re having a writer’s/roadblock, don’t let that stop you from working on something else… and then coming back to that block when you’re ready!
8. Stay positive. I know this part is difficult as well, but trust me. It’s important.
9. Learn from your mistakes. Let’s be honest, you’re going to screw up at one point or another. The good news, however, is that the next time you come back, you’re going to be even stronger than you were before.
10. Strive to be YOUR best. I don’t aim for the #1 spot; I aim for the best I know I can be. The only thing I’m good at is being me. Don’t pay attention to what someone else is doing.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am heteroromantic asexual, and extremely sex-repulsed (apothisexual, if you want to get technical). Yet, I LOVE kissing, cuddling, etc. Just everything except sex (which makes me physically sick for some reason).

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

Luckily, no. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Some people praise me for figuring myself out at such a young age. I actually receive more prejudice and ignorance for my autism than my sexuality (and I’ve been openly asexual for years). I’ve been dealing with the autism stigma and stereotypes my whole life, so at this point, I’m pretty much immune to any hate. It doesn’t bother me at all. I actually think it’s quite hilarious.

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

“It’s just a phase.”

I first suspected I was asexual when I was 14, found the term at 17, and still identify this way at almost 21 years old. I don’t think it’s a phase if it lasts for several years.

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

Ask yourself, “Has this always been me?” I’ve had many things happen to me that further confirm that I’m asexual. Most of the time, I’ve just felt out of place. What was this “sexual attraction” that people kept talking about? Why do I only feel the need to hug, kiss, and cuddle someone? Instead of being “turned on”, why do I experience nausea? There were just too many things that lead to me finding asexuality.

If you’re struggling about coming out, I feel you. I was once there. If someone doesn’t like you because of your orientation, again, that’s too bad. Your orientation does not define you; you define it.

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

I highly encourage anyone who may have questions about asexuality to message me on my ace blog: at theapothisexualace. Other than that, my Instagram is at peytonjustine, my personal Tumblr is at peyton-justine, my YouTube channel is Clodplaye; named after my original Coldplay-themed Tumblr: at clodplaye and my Coldplay-themed Instagram: at clodplaye. Lastly, my Twitter is at Clodplaye as well. I have other social media accounts, but I don’t really post to them that often.

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

Interview: Noreen Quadir

Today we’re joined by Noreen Quadir. Noreen is a phenomenal filmmaker, actress, and writer. She has acted in stage productions and short films. Noreen also writes screenplays and has written a feature length script about an asexual character. When she’s not working on film or stage, Noreen also writes in other forms too. She has written a children’s book, which she plans to self-publish soon. Noreen is an exciting artist and definitely someone to watch in the 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 actress, writer and filmmaker with a background in theater and media studies. Aside from having acted in stage productions, I have also acted in short films and did background work on TV. I have also written and produced my own projects. I wrote a feature length script which is still in works, but I’ve produced a short scene from the script. The film is about a high school girl who is discovering that she’s asexual. And as she is realizing this, she is struggling with feeling like an outsider, especially when no one around her believes that she is asexual or that asexuality is even real. In addition to screenplays, I write in other forms and have written a children’s book which I intend to self-publish soon.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by so many things. I certainly get inspired by bits and pieces of my own life, but I have never really written or produced anything that exactly mirrors my life and experiences. It’s a little too intimate for me and I value my privacy. The feature length screenplay I wrote has certainly been inspired by my experience as an asexual, but it is still a very different story. The character is a bit different and how she discovers, processes, and handles her self-discovery is extremely different than my own story. That of course made it more fun to write because I got to invent stuff and had to look for inspiration from other places. I do get inspired by other artistic works including music, books and other movies. Inspiration is something that just happens organically for me. I can’t force it, which can sometimes be frustrating because when I want to write something, I am out of ideas. But when I do get inspired, I am able to put the words down which is always a great feeling!

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

I suppose it all started when I took dance classes around the age of 5. I loved performing and being up on stage. And then as I got a little older, I developed an interest in singing and music. I sang in my school’s choir and I also played the flute. Sadly, I cannot play the flute anymore. But, I remember it was a lot of fun. I also learned a little bit of piano. So, I had a huge appreciation for the arts at a very young age. And eventually, I got interested in acting and performed in plays in high school and then decided to study theatre in college. And then from there, I wanted to create my own projects. I was also a writer from a young age. I remember I used to write a lot of short stories and poems in elementary school and my teachers would compliment me on my works. I was not getting high marks in math, but I found my skill in writing. And in fifth grade, my teacher encouraged me to become a children’s author and that always stayed with 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 don’t think I have any special symbol, but I love the color pink. It’s my favorite color and it is what I wear in my headshot. My room back at my family’s home is also pink. And it is often that you will see me in that color. 🙂

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say to really invest in yourself and in your dreams. Whatever it is that you want to do – be it writing, filmmaking, performing, drawing, singing, etc., make sure you’re really committed to it and spend time each day on your craft. If you want it to be more than a hobby, then you have to do more than just dabbling in it here and there. It’s good to invest in adequate training, be open to feedback and learning, and exercise your artistic muscles daily.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic ace.

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

A little bit, but not any more than I’ve encountered in other areas of life or in general. Since most of the people I meet in my field are professional contacts, my personal life isn’t much of a topic anyway. Occasionally, people have said ignorant things because sex is a big part of the film industry and it has been kind of implied that if you don’t fit in with that, you don’t fit within the industry. I suppose the only way I handle stuff like that is by calling people out on their ignorance and letting them know that despite the sexual liberation, there is still hypocritical close-mindedness when it comes to sex.

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

It’s really hard to pinpoint one, because there have been many. I think probably one of the most common ones is that asexuality is impossible or that if you claim to be asexual, you either have experienced abuse or trauma, you have a medical disorder that is causing you to feel that way or you’re repressed. Some people think it’s just a phase and that you haven’t met the right person yet. I used to get a lot of comments like that when I was a teenager and when I was in college. There’s also this view that if you dress and act very feminine, wear makeup and perfume, etc., that you can’t be an asexual. I think some people equate asexuality with unattractiveness and a neutral gender expression.

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

I would say to know that asexuality is not abnormal and that they are not the only ones in the world with this orientation. And even though it is still not widely acknowledged, it really will take people being confident with their orientation to make the difference and to change how people view asexuality. So I would say to embrace yourself and that your orientation is just one aspect of you. It doesn’t define your entire self and there are so many other interesting aspects of a person. I tend to define myself and other people by choices and how you treat and interact with others. That’s what really matters at the end of the day.

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

Here’s my YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ZizzyNQ

And this is my actor’s website: https://www.noreen-quadir.com/

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

Interview: Emie

Today we’re joined by Emie. Emie is a phenomenal performance artist based in Malmö, Sweden and London, UK. She does a variety of different forms of performance art, including installations and video art. Emie has traveled around the world and recently gave a panel in New York. A lot of Emie’s work has a deeply feminist bent and she’s incredibly dedicated to her work, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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“Sexually Disoriented in Tokyo” Shibuya, Tokyo, 2017. Costume and Photo: Daisuke Tsukuda

WORK

Please, tell us about you and your art.

I’m an artist and film activist from Sweden who’s spent over a decade working in London as a filmmaker and cinema worker.

My main disciplines as an artist are video, performance and installations.

It was only in recent years I started exploring the field of performance art and transgressing various art disciplines. I make stylized, political work that is influenced by my background in DIY arts, avantgarde clubbing and queer/feminist activism.

My A Sexual Series includes a variety of works that explore and visualize our struggles as asexuals to find acceptance in the world, on a personal, local as well as international level. It also provides various methods for dealing with those struggles and gives a nuanced picture of asexuality to a wider audience, who may have no previous knowledge of these terms or never encountered any of these themes before.

“A Sexual Series is a sex positive asexual’s perspective on our contemporary sexual culture.

A Sexual Series is inspired by posthumanist theory and gender studies.

A Sexual Series works with contradictions as a premiss to find greater understandings of human and posthuman thinking.

A Sexual Series explores the queer identity asexuality with the intent to raise awareness of the sexual construction of teenagers from both liberal and conservative environments and offer alternative ways of thinking about desire and attraction.”

I’m so pleased that my work in A Sexual Series has an international appeal and has already showcased in two art venues in Tokyo (JAP), Athens Museum of Queer Arts (GRC), multiple places in Sweden. It just premiered in New York on Jan 25th at Utopia School @ Flux Factory and in London on Feb 8th for Cuntemporary’s Deep Trash Romance event at Queen Mary University. My hopes and ambitions are to continue bringing the work to more countries globally!

Whilst showcasing the work, I try to find more participants for my international documentary about the asexual spectrum. I call it Ace of Baes and the aces featured so far represent a variety of cultural experiences, being from Japan, the US, Sweden, Estonia, India, Greece and Spain. I am currently looking for an ace producer to help me secure funding for a group shoot. (Holla!)

What inspires you?

Everyday life, encounters, people, the world, technology and meditation – spending time in my own mind. And reading!

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techtest_SexDisorientation: Emie, featured in the documentary QUEER by Daniela Runesson, Thara Schöön & David Falck, 2017

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

I’ve identified as a filmmaker since I first touched a video camera at the age of seven! Then I started curating my family gatherings at the age of 10, turning them into social and performative happenings!

I carried on pursuing my dreams of making a living – or more importantly, a lasting impact on society – and during production of several films DIY, I started my own international production company in London.

The move into contemporary art wasn’t an obvious one, but it makes sense to me. I was in my late twenties and disappointed with some encounters of sexism in the film industry – similar to those that came to light during this current #metoo revolution! So I decided I would explore the field of progressive video art – only to realize that everywhere is a patriarchal world, with artists calling #metoo as well! My hope is to return to film as my main medium at a later stage in my life, but as an artist.

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 can see a reoccurring trend with a lot of deep pink in my video works. And cyborgs in my performance art!

Being inspired by post-humanism and monster studies, the cyborg as a symbol, metaphor and identity really appeals to me, as I’ve had scoliosis surgery (reinforcing my spine with three long metal rods). My crip experiences really had an impact on my self-image and I share similar feelings of resemblance towards the Monster of Frankenstein as scholar Susan Stryker has expressed on behalf of the trans community in her My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage from 1994.

Bodies reshaped by science.

Recently I’ve started exploring glitch art as a metaphor for queerness.

A digital glitch, a rebellious pixel, reminds me of queers.

To go against normative expectations of you.

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aligning_glitch: “Straightened” physically and culturally by the hetero norm.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t overthink things, do something and reinvent it if needed. Challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zones. Don’t wait for people to invite you, do as much as you can yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Doing it together is a really good method to progress as a creative being. DIT is the new DIY! Move away from the individualist idea of the sole artist by collaborating and start art collectives!

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“Asexual Rebel” Shibuya, Tokyo, 2017. Costume and Photo: Daisuke Tsukuda

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex positive, panromantic, demisexual.

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

Oh, definitely! Try dating as an open asexual…! The worst part is not that the Jungle is so much thicker than average for us in a context of this ultra sexual dating culture, it’s the fact that people in general show no interest in you beyond the sexual. Or you come out and they just fall silent and let their own preconceived ideas control their behavior and actions (usually non-actions). The only person who’s asked me a genuine follow-up question after coming out as an ace person (who listened carefully and didn’t judge me or argue their point), is the person I later ended up falling for and am still seeing today!

Generally, we need an intersectional perspective on how power dynamics impact our emotions and sexual behavior to fully understand the idea of sexual attraction and desire. And it would help if people learn to self-reflect, listen and be curious rather than douchebags.

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sex_dis04: Exposition of Emie’s Sexual Disorientation (performance video). Documentation by Anette Skåhlberg.

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

That all asexuals are the same.

In fact, I was surprised by the diversity within the spectrum and the intelligent level of thoughts and conversations about sex and sexual behavior in the ace community.

Some people argue that sex positive aces shouldn’t be included in the asexual community, but where would we belong? The lack of sexual attraction is what unites us, no matter our sexual behavior and whatever reasons behind it.

But actually, I’d like to challenge the phrasing of the question and proclaim that I believe the majority of people have misconceptions about their own sexual attraction to others. I believe the estimated ‘1% of the world population being asexual’ is a massive understatement.

So I can’t wait to live in a world with a greater understanding of what the ace community means when we talk about ‘lack of sexual attraction’ and do another poll. The problem is that everyone is so caught up in the middle of the sexual culture, that we don’t realize the power the sexual norm has on us. It’s an extremely hard norm to remove and distance yourself from, so I have the utmost respect for my ace siblings out there, because I know the inner self-dissecting and acceptance you need to go through before you can even consider coming out as ace!

Now, if I’m right when I believe there are a lot more than 1% of aces out there, suddenly we’re touching upon the infected question whether or now we belong in the queer community or not. If the queer community includes around 50-60% of the world population, is it still queer by definition? Personally, I’d like the definition of queer to stand for radical thinking and norm-breaking behavior. Capitalist queers is for me a far greater contradiction than asexual queers, as the status quo way of thinking is so influenced by colonialism and the global capitalist norm – especially in terms of how we are expected to conquer, consume and collect our lovers and relationships.

My utopia is relationships with ourselves and others built on curiosity, acceptance, love and consent.

Coming from a post-humanist standpoint, I want to move beyond the humanist idea of the polarized mindsets (white/black, man/woman, left/right, us/them…), so I would claim that the ace spectrum is building a complex parallel across the sexual dichotomies homo/hetero. We’re opening up the straight-line way of thinking about sexuality and attraction into a fluid mind map in 3d, which automatically encourage self-reflection and openness both towards yourself and others.

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

You’re not alone. Find people who are into similar things as you. Deepen the relationships with people that respect you for who you are and let those encourage personal development in you, as you in them. Grow! Do what you love, not what people around you and society at large say what you ought to do. Learn to respect yourself, your body, your (non-)desires and your boundaries (extremely important!). Don’t let people take advantage or disrespect your comfort zones.

This is what I wish I’d heard when I was a teenager.

Instead, I was under the impression that everyone was like me and shared similar conflicting feelings, but was just better at pretending and performing.

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

If anyone’s in the UK, I’ll perform at Goodbye To London // This Dancefloor Isn’t Here Anymore’s event about disappearing queer spaces in London on Valentine’s Day! https://goodbyetolondon.wordpress.com/

www.happyendingsproductions.co.uk
www.facebook.com/HappyEndingsProductions
www.twitter.com/happyendingsltd
www.instagram.com/semiemie.

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M-E: A Video Selfie, 2015. Distributed by FilmForm.

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

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: Eliott

Today we’re joined by Eliott. Eliott is a phenomenally talented Japanese voice actor who mostly works in the Homestuck community. When he’s not voice acting, Eliott also does some singing, mostly Vocaloid. He’s got a great amount of enthusiasm for his art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do some voice acting and singing. I mostly voice act in the Homestuck community, but I’ve done other fandoms such as Steven Universe and My Little Pony, and I’m in a few original productions where I’m not imitating a voice. For my singing, I just cover songs that I feel like, whether it be popular songs by mainstream artists like Fallout Boy or Imagine Dragons or more niche songs like Vocaloid or anime openings. I also combine my VA work with my singing by singing as a character. Of course, this is mostly Homestuck because that’s how I got into voice acting, but that’s for later.

What inspires you?

For my VA work, it’s mostly anime voice actors in Japan, like Ikue Otani (Chopper from One Piece, Pikachu), Noriaki Sugiyama (Sasuke from Naruto, England from Hetalia), and Daisuke Namikawa (Italy from Hetalia, Eustass Kid from One Piece). I can’t really list off English voice actors because I just don’t watch dubs all that often, and in most cases, I prefer the original Japanese voices. For my singing, I’d say my number one inspiration is Case (hi I’m Case). Not a lot of people know of them, but they’re a musician in Wisconsin that some people might know if they were in the Homestuck fandom. Their music is super relatable to me, and I honestly aspire to be like them one day and actually write my music too, not just do covers. Other than Case, I enjoy works of Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift. I also enjoy Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, Elphaba in Wicked) and wish I was as talent as her, haha.

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

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Homestuck got me into voice acting. I saw works of Zanney (Broadway Karkat) and wanted to be like them, and singing just came as part of the package since I tried to go straight into the voice acting/singing field.

I’d always wanted to be an artist, yes, and originally it was somewhere in music. Considering not many artists live off of doing only covers of songs, though, I was a bit discouraged. I mean, I couldn’t compose well just because of my lack of musical creativity, and I still can’t, and I’ve honestly come to terms with that. I know all the musical theory that goes into composing, but I just couldn’t compose. That combined with the fact that the entertainment industry is really a hit or miss, I thought that I’d keep this on the sidelines as my super dedicated 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?

I don’t really have that “trademark me” type stuff, just because I work for other people and their projects. I guess the most unique thing is having people ask how I do my “Nepeta voice” which is pretty high and cutesy (imagine the range of Honey senpai from Host Club or Chopper from One Piece) when my regular speaking tone is much lower, and I try to use that vocal versatility for a variety of projects. Then again, I’m starting HRT soon so I won’t be able to do it anymore, haha.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. I know it’s been said countless times, but just don’t give up. Unless you’re a prodigy, you won’t get cast in the first production you auditioned for, and you won’t get a million notes on your first song that you post. Show it to friends and boost it, but you’ll only really get two or three notes. That’s not your fault, and it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at it. It just means that people don’t know you yet. Keep working, keep improving, and keep faith. With time, there will come a time when people will recognize you at conventions or just online through your voice.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual. I say I’m homoromantic but I’m also leaning towards demiromantic, but I’m not sure about that part yet.

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

I guess I have, in a way. It’s not a “aces are actually cishet and don’t belong in LGBT spaces” type deal, but a lot of the people who are trying to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities just … forget about asexual people, y’know? Mostly in the original podcasts, which are trying to be inclusive with leads being trans and/or POC and whatnot, forget about us aces. If they do remember, the label of ace is slapped on that one kid that appears in episode 4 for two minutes. Don’t get me wrong, not all podcasts do this, but it’s still really frustrating to see other marginalized orientations be represented more than others. We’re like the one percent of the one percent. No one sees us. Those that I’ve brought this up to, though, have been pretty cool about it, saying that they’ll either write in an asexual character or straight up start another podcast with an ace as a lead, and I think that’s pretty awesome! More to come on that later, hopefully.

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

“Aces don’t have sex” probably. I’m 21. I’ve had sex. I don’t really like it, and probably somewhere between neutral and sex-repulsed. I mean, part of my asexuality might have come from past trauma and maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy it? I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care why I’m ace. I just know that I am. Date at Cheesecake Factory? Perfect. Taking me to Outback so you can get laid? Back off.

Another is that because I’m ace, I can’t find people attractive and/or make lewd jokes. Like, yeah, I’m ace, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the way people look and fall in love with them. For the jokes, especially, I’m pretty sure that I make these jokes because I’m ace. It’s just… I guess how I cope and a way for people to stay off my ass about being ace. “OMG are you a plant” is so old, and jokes are funnier and easier to deal with than that aphobic bullcrap.

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

Don’t listen to all the negative stuff that the media spews at you. They’re just uninformed and ignorant, and that’s their loss, not yours. You are 100% valid. Whether your asexuality comes from trauma or not, whether you love sex or not, none of that really matters in the end. If you’re asexual, embrace it. Find other aces who want to actually Netflix and Chill, binge ice cream, and talk about puppies. You are not broken, and you are valid.

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

All of my voice related work (reblogged or original posts) can be found on my voice blog at http://skylerva.tumblr.com. I made the blog before I changed my name to Eliott and that’s why it’s Skyler, but don’t worry, that’s still me.

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