POWER UP 10th Annual Premiere 2010 – Report and Interviews
Last weekend I have attended another Annual POWER UP Premiere Gala that was honoring gay women and men in showbiz who helped to shape public opinion and social growth. This year it was POWER UP 10th Anniversary and it’s just simply amazing how much POWER UP had accomplished in this pretty short time.
Up to this day POWER UP (Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up) is still the only non-profit volunteer-run Educational Organization and Film Production Company for LGBT community. So far, POWER UP produced 14 films, including the latest Girltrash: All Night Long that is being edited right now to get ready for film festivals.
This year POWER UP honored 20 more amazing women and men who are working, creating and changing lives of everyone around them. Among the women honorees this year were Ali Adler, the writer and producer for the numerous TV shows, including Family Guy, Chuck and No Ordinary Family. Another honoree, Clementine Ford, doesn’t need an introduction. She appeared on The L Word, currently starring in The Young and Restless and also was one of the cast members on Girltrash: All Night Long. There was also Tracy Gilchrist, the editor of SheWired, who brought us some interesting interviews with TLW cast, including Jennifer Beals and Laurel Holloman.
The men honorees included James Duff, the creator of TV series, The Closer. Peter Paige, who is best known for his role as Emmett Honeycutt on Showtime series Queer as Folk. Steve Tyler, who has done over 30 films and television shows, including Me, Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal, and Kingpin. Michael Sluchan, who is Vice President of the Original Scripted Series Programming at USA Network and he developed current production of Royal Pains, along with Monk, and The Dead Zone.
This year the POWER UP Gala was held at the Voyeur Club on Santa Monica Blvd. The place was small but had a great and cozy interior. The Red Carpet part of the event started promptly at 6 pm and my work had began. Among the celebrities and the honorees I recognized many familiar faces, including most of the cast of the Girltrash: All Night Long, POWER UP’s latest feature film. As it happened, I was an extra during the filming of Girltrash and some of the cast members had also appeared on The L Word, so it was a double pleasure for me to meet them and chat about their projects later.
For me, the Red Carpet is always an amazing and thrilling experience. I’ve done some events where things were calm and poised; others were crazy non-stop arrivals of stars; but all of them were filled with amazing memories and exciting experiences.
Among the familiar faces that I saw that night was Angela Robinson and her partner Alex Kondracke, who used to be the writers and producers on The L Word. Angela told me about her current projects, which include post-production on Girltrash: All Night Long, writing for the third season of Hung on HBO, continuing working on Gigantic, and a few other television projects.
The Red Carpet was finally quieting down and I walked around the room a little, when I saw Kate French, Alex Kondracke, and Malaya Rivera Drew seated together at the table. I joined them and asked a few questions. Kate French was first and we talked about Girltrash, L8 Convention and her latest work.
B&TF: You are at the POWER UP Gala partly because of your involvement with its current feature film, Girltrash: All Night Long. Tell me a little bit about your character?
Kate French: I play Sid who is kind of a troublemaker of the group. Every now and then everyone is a little bit of a troublemaker in this group but she’s a little bit more of a starstruck and wants to be famous. She’s living in L.A. and hasn’t really found her way yet. She’s just out on the town, looking for a good time, and she’s trying to make the memories that outlast. She’s kind of wild, obnoxious friend that you keep around because you have a good time but at the same time she’s a little bit too much. I think that explains Sid.
B&TF: How much fun did you have making it, especially with some of your co-stars from The L Word?
KF: They are so much fun. My good friend Malaya (Drew), we worked on The L Word together and she’s one of my greatest friends so we had a fantastic time. All of the girls are fun. I actually worked with Mandy (Musgrave) and Gaby (Christian) on South of Nowhere, like years before. I was only there for a few episodes but I’ve gotten to know Gabby really well actually. So I knew both of them and it was great to come together with them again.
This is actually how it happened. When I worked on The L Word, I met Angela (Robinson) and Alex (Kondracke) and they knew Mandy and Gaby and it all kind of came together in this perfect unison. Seriously, because it was night shoots for a month, by the end we all became extremely delirious and it was so much fun. I couldn’t have a better time. It was like having a big slumber party with my good girl friends. We all got a little wacky as the night went on and as the month went on it got crazier and crazier.
B&TF: Yes, I know it feels. I was an extra on the Girltrash in the beginning in December and then in February and it was crazy…
KF: Yes, it was, it was. It was long hours but it was fun and all the craziness paid off. I can’t wait to see it.
B&TF: What any other projects you’re working on right now?
KF: I did another independent film, called Language of a Broken Heart (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1609488/) right after Girltrash and everything is in the open air right now but we are waiting to hear about the festivals, fingers cross. It’s a romantic comedy, it’s really cue and really well done. Since then I took some time off and I got married.
B&TF: You got married? Congratulations.
KF: Oh, thank you. Yes, I got married and I started working on a children’s book, and I also just started working on my first young readers’ novel, so I’m going to dab in the writing a little bit.
B&TF: Tell me a little bit about your expectations and excitement about the L8 Convention in Brighton next year.
KF: Oh my God, I can’t wait. I’m so excited. I’m looking forward to it more than anything. I’m going to take my husband and we are going to make a whole vacation out of it. I can’t wait to see all those girls and everything, I’m just so excited.
B&TF: This is going to be your first time at this kind of convention, have you talked to any of the cast who’ve been there already to know what to expect?
KF: I did a convention back in Atlantic City last fall and I had the most fun. It’s so great to meet the fans that follow you, and they are so devoted. They are just an amazing group of people. It’s nice to have a whole entire night devoted to those fans, to sit down with them and have conversations, and get to know them a little bit better.
B&TF: Well, L8 will have three nights for that.
KF: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Atlantic City was one night and this one is going to be three. I can’t wait and after that we are going to do all the traveling. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.
B&TF: Who else from The L Word you keep in contact with?
KF: Basically Malaya and Clementine (Ford). A lot of the girls that came on at the same time as I did just because we all formed the same bond, we all stayed at the same hotel and we all became very close very fast. Angela and Alex live down the street from me so I see them once a week and their little baby. It’s great, they are like a family and even went to my wedding. They are definitely my closest.
I thanked Kate and then went to talk to Clementine Ford who was standing alone, waiting for the presentations to begin. We didn’t have much time before was going to start, so I asked if we can do a short interview and we chatted a little.
B&TF: So what’s been going on with you after the end of The L Word?
Clementine Ford: I’ve been on the soap-opera, called The Young and The Restless. Actually, my last episode aired yesterday. So I’m done, I’m a free agent.
B&TF: Is there a difference between a TV series and a soap-opera for you as an actress?
CF: In the soap-opera everything moves really quickly so you have to commit in that moment whereas there’s a little more creative freedom and time to explore and discover things on a regular TV show on primetime.
B&TF: You are going to L8 Convention in Brighton next year, what’re your expectations?
CF: Oh my God, I can’t wait. I’m so excited. I was supposed to go, I believe it was June, and it would’ve been my birthday and then the soap x-ed it and said I couldn’t go because I was suppose to work…and I cried. I’m so excited to go. I’ve heard that it’s so much fun. The other girls have told me they are blast so I can’t wait.
B&TF: I’m going so I guess I will see you there.
CF: Yeah, I’ll see you there.
B&TF: How’s your mom doing, by the way? Is she working on anything?
CF: She’s great. She just did an episode for No Ordinary Family, which is airing on Tuesday. Speaking of POWER UP, Ali Adler is being honored tonight and she writes for that show. So she’s doing that and she’s just did some for $#*! My Dad Says, so she’s doing great, she’s busy.
B&TF: You’ve also been involved with Girltrash. Tell me a little about your character.
CF: My character (Xan) is kind of a bitch. She’s done with Lisa Rieffel’s character (Daisy) and she spurs the action of the film, I think.
The presentations were about to start and I had to end the interview. Before the actual awards started, we were able to see a short preview of the POWER UP latest feature film, Girltrash: All Night Long. Since I was a part of it as extra, I was really anxious to see it.
Here’s a little synopsis from girltrashonline.com:
Based on the extremely successful Internet Web series from Showtime, GIRLTRASH: The Movie stars Lisa Rieffel (lead singer of Killola), Gabrielle Christian (‘South of Nowhere’), Michelle Lombardo (‘Quarterlife’), Mandy Musgrave (‘South of Nowhere’), Rose Rollins (‘The L Word’), Kate French (‘One Tree Hill’, The L Word’, ‘Wicked Wicked Games’) and Clementine Ford (‘The L Word’). Directed by Alexandra Martinez Kondracke (The L Word) and Angela Robinson (‘D.E.B.S.’, ‘Herbie Fully Loaded’, ‘The L Word’) & produced by Lisa Thrasher (‘Itty Bitty Titty Committee’). Stacy Codikow (D.E.B.S., Itty Bitty Titty Committee) the founder of POWER UP is executive producing.
In the tradition of “Go” and “Superbad,” ‘GIRLTRASH: All Night Long’ is the story of five girls and one epic night. Daisy and Tyler are two hapless rockers trying to make it to a Battle of the Bands concert on time. They are waylaid by Daisy’s sister, Colby, who has her sights set on hooking up with the girl of her dreams, Misty (that is, if she can manage to have a conversation with her first.) As the night spirals out of control, the girls will find lesbian love, lust, girl-fights, rock and roll, and a whole lot of stoned sorority girls. Oh, did we mention it’s a musical?
The preview left me with wanting to see the movie immediately but I’m also excited to find myself in all the scenes that I’ve participated in. That’s going to be lots of fun!
Right after the preview the presentations had began. The host, stand-up comedian Gloria Bigelow, was announcing the award nominees and each honoree said a few words. Each year there’s always something new and interesting that they have to say and this Gala wasn’t an exception. With a lot of bullying and teenage suicides happening, a lot of the speeches were somber but filled with hope that their stories and unique experiences will help to eliminate discrimination and invite acceptance.
During a short break I caught up with Malaya Rivera Drew, who played Adele on The L Word, and we talked about her experience on TLW, her involvement with Girltrash and her recent projects.
B&TF: I didn’t realize you were on the Girltrash. Tell me about your character.
Malaya Drew: I can’t tell you too much but basically I play Lauren and there’s a huge adventure in the middle of the movie, and I’m the head of the sorority.
B&TF: I was an extra but only in the beginning so that’s why I didn’t know you were part of it.
MD: You were? Did we film together?
B&TF: No, you came later. I was one of those extras with no words, just walking around and dancing at the club, but it was so much fun. I love to be on the movie sets.
MD: Yes, yes.
B&TF: And of course, you played Adele on The L Word. In retrospect, how would you describe your character? Was she a typical villain or a very determined woman what got what she wanted?
MD: That’s interesting. I definitely hope that I didn’t play her as a villain. I know she was seen as a villain and I think that’s the purpose of the character and it was really fun and funny. I played her as a very determined woman who was sort of doing what she felt like she needed to do. Obviously it was a comedy so there was a lot of humor to it, but I don’t think Adele would’ve seen herself as a villain. That’s for sure.
B&TF: Well, she ended up as a winner because she was mentioned later that she got like three movie deals…
MD: Well, the whole thing is that she got the movie out, sort of like by all means necessary. At the end of the day she got this movie that probably wouldn’t have seen a lot of viewership out.
B&TF: Most of your scenes were with Mia Kirshner who is a wonderful person and actress. How was it working with her?
MD: Mia is an amazing actress. She’s a very, very talented woman. We had an interesting time together because our characters start up that season in episodes one through six as a best of buds and then my character turns and turns on her. She’s a very comedic actress (chuckling) and we had an interesting time together.
B&TF: Do you have any projects you working on right now?
MD: Yes, I just came back from a play. I played Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in “The Sins of Sor Juana” at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. (http://www.goodmantheatre.org/_pdfs/OnStage_5.pdf). She’s an amazing feminist character that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s based on a real woman who lived in the 17th century in Mexico. She was a child prodigy poet. Because of the Inquisition she was not allowed to write poetry and she went into the convent and continued to write poetry. Finally, the Inquisition said she couldn’t write anymore. Her poetry was very erotic. Actually, she had an affair with a woman and she was suspected as a lesbian. The Inquisition came in and said, “You can’t write poetry but if you do it has to be religious, you can write about God.” She refused to do so and she wrote an oath in her own blood and said, “If you going to censor me, I won’t write at all.” And then she died a couple of years later. This woman, Karen Zacarías, has written this amazing play, and I got the opportunity to play another very strong woman who was sort of a strong, intelligent, sensitive artist-woman in a time when it wasn’t acceptable. That was an incredible experience and I also was on stage again, which I haven’t been for several years.
B&TF: Is it easier or harder for you to play real-life characters versus the fictional ones?
ND: Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t know if it’s easier or harder. Both have their own challenges. Playing Sor Juana, for example, I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility. You know, in Latin America she’s like their Shakespeare. It’s a tragedy that we don’t know about her but if you go to Mexico, little school children can recite her poetry by heart. It was such an honor to play a woman like this. She was sort of their Leonardo Da Vinci, their Shakespeare. It was an honor but also such a responsibility to do a justice to a woman like that. It was difficult in that way to sort of allow myself let there be my own take on her. However, it was easy because I had so much of her, you know. She was a writer, so I had so much of her own writing and her own poetry to guide me. When you are just creating your own character, you have way more liberty. You use your words and you also use your own life experiences.
B&TF: Thank you, good luck with everything you will have in the future.
MD: Thank you.
I returned to the stage to finish watching the awards and presentations. The evening ended on a high note with hopes for success and a better future. The Gala was also a fundraiser to propel educational programs, grants, films and outreach programs that POWER UP develops and provides to the current and future filmmakers. One of the POWER UP’s most successful programs is “Feature Film Mentorship Production Program” that allows young mentees to learn through a first-hand experience how to succeed and gain access to the entertainment industry.
The POWER UP founders, Stacy Codikow and Lisa Thrasher, should be very proud of such amazing accomplishments for both the organization and its members. 10th Annual Power Premiere and Gala was a success and another great evening for LGBT filmmakers and community.