Interview: Ellison

Today we’re joined by Ellison. Ellison is a phenomenal actress and an aspiring writer. She writes mainly poetry and short stories and hopes to be published one day. When she’s not acting or writing, Ellison enjoys to work on her visual art. She draws and sketches frequently. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who really loves to create. 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 dabble in lots of art forms, but mainly pursue theater, writing (poetry and short stories), and drawing. I’ve been in multiple productions, most recently A Midsummer Night’s Dream and will be playing Penny in You Can’t Take It With You this fall. If you’d like to contact me about doodles, sketches, poems, or stories, please contact me directly on my Tumblr:   wellnoduhofcourceimafangirl.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration from my past and experiences I’ve had, a lot of which were bad. I also take motivation from close friends and one that not many people seem to talk about, but the media I consume. I read all the time, almost always fiction. In a well written book there might be a storyline that inspires me or the way something is described, I just have to sketch it out.

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

I’ve always loved art, in some form or another and I’ve been a performer, or depending on who you ask, a drama queen, as long as I can remember. I wanted to be an artist but not until high school did I actually think about making a career out of it. Little kid me would’ve been okay with princess, but really wanted to be a spy. Currently I’d go for taking deep breaths and making it through the day because the future is big and loud. As a career, I think I’d be most likely to pursue my writing.

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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 don’t, I’m pretty boring. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, I should totally come up with one. I’m always willing to listen to suggestions.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

No matter your art form, never stop. Ever. If you practice your art every day, you’re an artist. If you only practice one a year, you’re still an artist. I’ve been at an art school for over two years and I still invalidate myself as an artist. You’re not an imposter, you are good enough. And if anyone tells you otherwise, contact me for a hug plus I’ll fight them.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Currently I identify as asexual but I’m still trying to figure myself out. One of the biggest problems I’ve had is feeling like it is just a phase, or maybe I am just doing for attention. I still struggle with that. It’s okay if you try on labels to see what fits you. It doesn’t make you a liar or an imposter. All I really have to do now is figure out how to take my own advice.

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

I haven’t. I hear the stories about acephobia and I haven’t experienced any yet and I have to remind myself that everyone’s experiences are different, and that doesn’t make you wrong.

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

That Aces can’t have or don’t like sex. It’s not about whether we enjoy, or even have sex. It’s not about sex drive, nor about whether we think someone is beautiful or hot. We just don’t experience sexual attraction. That’s it.

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

Talk to people that understand. Talk to people who love you regardless of how you identify. Try as hard as you can to love yourself and remember that it isn’t anyways easy. Remember you aren’t alone. You will find love as you are, whether it’s physical or romantic or platonic or familial or self-love. You’re amazing.

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

To see my work or ask about commissions, contact me at my Tumblr:    wellnoduhofcourceimafangirl.

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

Interview: Casye Erins

Today we’re joined by Casye Erins. Casye is a phenomenal writer, actress, and podcaster. They mainly act on stage and in film. They’re currently focused mainly on stage and are currently rehearsing for an upcoming production. Aside from writing and acting, Casye also has a podcast called This is Lit, which discuses books. It’s clear she’s a passionate 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 am a writer and actress. I do both stage and film work, but right now I’m focused on the stage. Currently, I’m writing on a one-person musical to debut at next year’s Fringe Festival. I also do immersion theatre and local community theatre. I just finished a production of the musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and started rehearsals for Shrek: The Musical. My most recent project is a podcast called This is Lit where my co-host and I drink and talk about our favorite books.

What inspires you?

Music is definitely an inspiration for me, which is why I love musicals so much. I also find a lot of writing inspiration in my real-life experiences and the experiences of those around me. The one-person show I’m currently writing could probably be described as “artistically embellished autobiography.” I believe people are most impacted by stories that are rooted in authentic feeling.

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

I learned to read at a very young age and have been writing my own stories ever since. My first performance experiences were also very young; church plays and the like. I always knew I wanted to be an actor, and I always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that I could write my own material. Seeing creators like Lin Manuel-Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights) and Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) who didn’t wait around for parts that they could play really inspired me to start working on my own material.

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 know that I do. As an actor, unless you’re A-list, it’s hard to cultivate a specific type or characteristic that people associate with your performance, mainly because you can’t afford to say no to parts that don’t necessarily fit.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Two things. Number one: just keep working at it. I’ve been a performer for the better part of two decades and still don’t make my full-time living at it. If you want to have a job in the arts, you’ve got to be willing to grind. The other advice, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with the first piece is: if you’re able, create your own content. If you are an actor who can’t find roles that fit you, write your own. If you’re a pianist that can’t find an orchestra that jives with your personal style, compose your own sonata and try to find a way to perform it. Take the initiative and you’ll be rewarded.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as biromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t experienced active prejudice in my field, mostly because I’m very selective about who I’m completely out to. Most of my colleagues are aware I’m bi, but not that I’m ace, because I don’t trust that it would go over well. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of roles for asexual characters that I’ve encountered, which I ascribe mostly to ignorance. It would be nice to be able to play a character who is actually ace sometime in the future though! I have hopes that it will start happening more frequently.

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

I’ve come across a lot of misconceptions, but I’d have to say the most common is that asexuals are “frigid” or incapable of love. It’s a very dehumanizing concept. Non-aro aces can still want and find romance, and aroace people can still feel platonic or fraternal love for their friends and family.

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

Honestly, it’s hard. I struggle with it sometimes too, and that’s after almost a decade of identifying this way, and while having a very accepting and understanding partner (who is allo!). It’s okay to struggle with your orientation, or to have doubts. But be gentle with yourself and surround yourself with a community of people who love and care about you, and those doubts will get less frequent over time.

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

Since acting is kind of impermanent (unless it’s on film), I’ll encourage you to check out my podcast at www.litliteraturepodcast.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at casyeerins or under the same username on Instagram.

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

Interview: Angelica Bentley

Today we’re joined by Angelica Bentley. Angelica is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in traditional media. She works with oils, watercolors, and graphite. When she’s not working on visual art, she does graphic and communication design. Angelica is also a stage technician for the theater where she does a lot of lighting design. And on top of all this, she also writes. It’s clear she’s a versatile and passionate 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’m a traditional media artist.  I work primarily with oils, watercolours, and graphite.  Right now, my work tends to follow themes of life and death as well as showcasing what I call ‘organic human spaces’ (unaltered rooms and living spaces that are telling of what the person living there is like).  I also work with graphic and communication design. I’m still working on learning the more ‘artsy’ side of that line of work, but for right now I do more design and layout oriented things.  At my school I work as a theatrical stage technician where I focus mostly on lighting design, i.e. I program and operate lights for shows and events.  Lastly, I’m a writer, though I don’t consider myself as successful with writing as I have been with my other forms of art.  I enjoy writing young adult fantasy novels…when I can get myself to actually write.

What inspires you?

This is hard to answer because it totally depends.  Other people’s art is probably my biggest inspiration.  Seeing or reading something really cool someone else has done gets the gears in my head turning.  It makes me wonder if I could create something like that, or do it even better.  But a lot of other things inspire me too.  Nature, cool architecture, songs, movies, dreams.  Just living is an inspiration to create art.

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

I think I have always wanted to be an artist.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting.  And ever since I could pick up a pencil I’ve been writing.  Of course, I went in and out of phases of inspiration throughout my life.  In middle school I was determined to be a writer.  In high school I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than art. Toward the end of high school I felt really down about being able to do either art or writing, and I hadn’t had any exposure to graphic design or lighting design at that point.  So I went into college majoring in–get this–accounting. I changed my major to a double major in art and graphic design within the first semester.  That’s what got me interested in graphic design.  A lot of the requirements for an art major overlapped with a graphic design major and taking design classes really appealed to me. Going into college I got a job as a theatrical stage technician (basically a techie) and I learned how to operate a light board and program lights, which I fell in love with.  Now I can’t see myself not doing all of these things!

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?

Nope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try it all!  And don’t be afraid to be bad at it.  I used to avoid painting like the plague because I was afraid of being bad at it, but after I forced myself to learn how to paint it’s become my favourite media.  The same with graphic design and lighting design.  I thought I’d be no good because I’d never opened adobe illustrator before or touched a light board.  But then I did.  And I learned how, and I practiced, and I found out I really enjoy it.  Of course, there will naturally be some things that you try and try and try and never become good at.  And that’s okay!  Now you know! There’s no shame in trying and failing as long as you tried first.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as asexual, though I’ve definitely been questioning whether or not I’m also aromantic lately.

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

Thankfully, I haven’t. Though I don’t consider myself ‘closeted’, most people who consume my work don’t know that I’m asexual.

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

That they can’t ask questions.  I think a lot of people don’t want to come off as uneducated or intolerant of asexuality, so when I come out they don’t ask any questions.  It’s so frustrating because I know they probably don’t have a complete understanding of what the a-spectrum is, and they definitely don’t know what it means for me to be asexual, but they pretend they do.  I went out with a guy one time (sort of by mistake, but that’s a different story) who, when I told him I was asexual, thought I meant that I was bisexual and refused to ask questions about it.  To avoid this I normally ask people if they have questions about it when/if I come out to them.  Even then people are often still too afraid to ask.

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

It’s totally okay to not know what the hell is going on.  Change is hard, especially when it’s a whole shift in your identity, but change is okay too.  If you need to identify as a-spec now only to realize a different identity later that’s totally cool.  And you can always try labeling yourself as questioning, or simply queer.  I still struggle with my romantic identity, but I find it helpful to identify as a questioning aromantic.  That way I don’t feel guilty about identifying a way I’m not sure I am yet.

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

I just got an Instagram account, so it’s kind of bare right now, and I also use it a bit as a personal account, but my art is still there!  My handle is at a.n.g.e.l.i.c.a_b.e.n.t.l.e.y.  You can also email me at 0angben0@gmail.com for questions, commissions, and interests in my art.

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Thank you, Angelica, 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: 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.

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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: 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.