L8 Convention in Brighton, UK – Day 2, Part 1 Report
Day two began with the usual early morning photo shoots, followed by the Q&A sessions where all the guests were either paired up or flying solo. After the Q&A’s the majority of fans went to get their autographs, especially with Janina because she was leaving early Sunday morning and wasn’t available to sign anything the next day.
Jetlagged and sleepy, I made my way Saturday morning to the photo shoots, hoping that I don’t have to cut my face out of all the pictures. I’ve been to eight conventions and just now I discovered a way to appear decent on my photos. I always look so self-conscious, trying my best look and smile that I still haven’t found. The trick is actually not to care how you look and voilà, I could finally see my face without cringing.
The lines at photo shoots are always moving pretty quickly because they have to accommodate hundreds of fans. The veterans of the conventions know that it’s better not to chat with the guests and hold up the line but there is always a fan or two who use the photo shoots as an opportunity to tell their life stories or ask for favors.
Overall, the photo shoots are pretty smooth and I try to get them all on the first day so I don’t have to worry about it the next day. With nine guests the photo shoots went way past the Q&A’s but I managed to get to most of the talks and it was a very enjoyable afternoon.
Saturday Q&A’s began with “The Real L Word” stars and a real-life couple, Tracy Ryerson and Stamie Karakasidis. Stamie had three kids with her ex-partner when Tracy and she met. Her oldest son, Jagger, who is a biological son of Stamie’s ex-partner, has Williams syndrome (a rare neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a deletion of about 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7). Two other kids, the twins, are Stamie’s biological children.
In the beginning fans were just taking pictures and nobody really knew what to ask because not many people watched “The Real L Word” in the UK, so Stamie was making jokes and we asked if she could do her stand-up comedy act. Stamie replied that she might do it later but the Q&A was pretty much a stand-up any way, only they were sitting down.
- Stamie is very funny and finds humor in some ordinary life situations or even in certain difficulties they are facing with Jagger’s syndrome. She was joking a lot about their relationship and their kids, like saying that Jagger likes anything that is spinning (which is actually therapeutic for him) and boobies. Every time one of them comes out of the shower, he miraculously appears to watch them.
- Tracy was one of the six original cast members and their storyline revolved around Tracy and Stamie’s relationship and Tracy’s attempt to come out to her mom.
- Tracy was afraid that her mom would be really stand-offish when she appears on camera but she seemed to enjoy it and asked when they begin to film season 2. Tracy told her that they pulled out. Her mom hasn’t accepted Tracy and Stamie’s relationship completely but she’s getting there.
- Stamie’s kids love Tracy, who is very patient with them. It took them some time to come around because it was a little confusing to have four moms and she had to learn to gain their trust. When they first met, Stamie told Tracy that she was the kids’ nanny.
- They filmed a lot of serious scenes explaining the Williams syndrome but they didn’t know what will end up on the show and what will be cut and unfortunately a lot of it didn’t make it because it wasn’t something that producers were looking for.
- Second season will concentrate on a more diverse group of lesbians but because Tracy and Stamie pulled out, they didn’t know what exactly will be happening there. Overall, it was a really nice experience for them.
- If Tracy was invisible for a day she would find Angelina Jolie and stare at her.
- They both watched “The L Word” every Sunday and loved it. Helena was Stamie’s favorite character and Tracy liked Dana and Lara, the soup-chef. People always compared them with “The L Word” characters, even though it’s a totally separate show and Tracy thinks of herself more like Dana. Stamie also loved Jennifer Beals’ wardrobe.
- Each couple or character on “The Real L Word” had their own crew and Tracy said that they had an amazing crew. Everyone on the show was so different and some of the personalities clashed but they made some great friends.
- They didn’t work with Ilene Chaiken that much besides the initial meetings and then they just did their own thing.
Overall, the first Q&A session was hilarious. It was a constant joking and laughter and you have to be there to appreciate the humor. I do remember laughing a lot so it was a good beginning.
Our next guest was Heather Peace. She seemed to have plenty of energy. While all the guests preferred to sit down to answer questions, Heather was running around the room, making it more personal for the fans and even sharing hugs and kisses. She has a wonderful sense of humor and turned out to be one of the most entertaining guests at the convention.
- Stamie and Tracy didn’t leave the room after their Q&A and instead stayed and asked Heather some question, mostly as a joke but one of the questions was about “Lip Service” and what this show was all about. Heather answered that it was about a group of gay women in Glasgow. Heather is playing Detective Sergeant Sam Murray. The series were picked up for second season and Heather just found out the storyline and her character got some good stuff coming this year, though she wouldn’t share any spoilers with the audience. It’s going to be another six one-hour episodes because this is how BBC is doing their shows right now.
- Heather was the only openly gay actress on the show but acting the sex scenes on the show wasn’t hard because there were different kinds of sex but mostly it’s just playing the emotions. Her sex scenes were only with Laura Fraser who played Cat. Heather described with a lot of humor how they were getting ready for the sex scene and they had to be naked with some sticky patches that covered the private parts and it was just weird to look at them. After that scene, Heather said, “We’ve done it, we laughed about it,” and it was easier after that but poor Ruta Gedmintas, who played Frankie, had scenes with different actresses every time and it was hard for her.
- Heather’s coming out story was quite fascinating and she told it again with a lot of humor. She didn’t realize she was gay and even had a boyfriend, who didn’t understand why she had posters of Gabriela Sabatini all over her walls. So the boyfriend asked her if she was a lesbian because she had Sabatini’s posters but didn’t play tennis, but Heather said that she didn’t have a clue. One day she was at some club in Manchester and she was dancing and made an eye contact with some androgynous girl who basically indicated that Heather should either come on to her or get her bag and leave. It was almost like a romantic moment in the movie with the disco ball and some disco music but Heather got scared, got her bag and left. She told her friend that she thought she might be a lesbian and her friend advised just to go to bed and everything will be normal in the morning. During her first year at the university in Manchester she got a crush on a girl and realized she was really gay. Again, you have to be there to see it because Heather didn’t just tell the story of her coming out; she showed us her coming out story. It was bloody brilliant.
- Heather talked a little about the gay bars she was sending everyone to during meet&greet and when someone in the audience said that they didn’t like “Revenge” she said it was a pity but the night is what you make it and it’s all about company that you are in.
- Heather said that she was never in the closet; she never pretended to be straight. She was straight until the age of 19 and after she realized she was gay she wasn’t hiding it. Before “Lip Service” Heather was in the predominantly male action shows and she was told not to talk about being gay because it would make her characters less believable if she was playing a romantic lead with a guy. When she was 22 it was really scary for her and she was under a lot of pressure to still live her life honestly. Being gay didn’t really affect her career, though she was just recently offered a role in a film to play another lesbian and it’s possible she would get less straight roles.
- Heather thinks it’s a nonsense that straight actresses can play gay characters but the public is prejudiced against gay actors playing straight characters. It should be just the best actor for the role, no matter their sexual orientation.
- Heather equally likes acting and music. If there’re no good scripts, she spends more time on her music but when the good solid scripts come along, like “Lip Service”, then she loves acting. Heather said she is pretty much living her dream right now.
- Heather is preparing for her UK tour with Jill Jackson from March 31st to April 15th, and will also appear in Germany for her first international concert.
- Heather knew since she was a little girl that she wanted to be an actress and she played in a lot of shows growing up. She made a joke though, that if she could start over she would be a marine biologist because they would send her to the Maldives to study turtles for five months and who wouldn’t want to go to the Maldives.
- When she was asked who would she play on “The L Word”, Heather said that it was tricky because do you want to play your favorite character or the one opposite to your favorite character so you can kiss them? Finally she said she would play Bette Porter.
- Heather will attend Manchester Pride this summer as she does every year.
- During her concerts Heather likes to do short Q&A’s with the audience. At the end of the event Heather said that she lives only a mile away and she might get her guitar and perform later.
Once again, the second Q&A session was very entertaining and informative, especially for those who haven’t met Heather before.
The next pair of guests were two first-timers or as the convention organizers call them, “convention virgins” Clementine Ford and Kate French. They seemed a little shy in the beginning, especially Clementine but got more relaxed and talkative by the time it was over. They were even comfortable enough to share some embarrassing stories from their lives at the end but I left to do my final photo shoot and missed that part. I’m sure it was entertaining because I could hear a lot of laughter.
- Kate (who some TLW peeps call just by her last name French) said that she was somewhat terrified to join the cast of “The L Word” but everyone was super nice. She is originally from New York and when she finally got to work in LA she was thrilled.
- Someone asked why is it so easy for straight actresses to play gay characters, like it was done in “The Kids are Alright” but you can hardly see gay characters playing straight. Clementine replied that she was playing a straight character but she’s not so straight so she personally didn’t have that kind of experiences. Kate added that there are probably many actors in Hollywood who are gay but playing straight characters but they are not out but there’s no really answer to that question.
- Kate also said that it’s hard to be in Hollywood no matter if you are gay or straight, especially with everything that was happening in the last few years, like strikes and low budgets. Even the A-list actors are taking anything they can get now and it’s even harder for the less-known to break into Hollywood.
- Clementine was really nervous about working with her mom (Cybill Shepherd) because she thought it would be weird but they both were super professional and she learned a lot from her. There was also a feeling of safety there and automatic trust.
- Kate’s favorite scene to film was a pot brownies party because it was so much fun. They filmed during the night, dancing their asses off and it felt like they really had pot brownies. Clementine said she had so much fun with the oil-wrestling. They were all drenched in oil and it was ridiculously fun. Kate said that she loved that scene too and shared that one point she had to go to the bathroom while still in oil and she slid right off the toilet seat.
- Clementine said that she doesn’t really have a come out story because she had never feel the need to be in. She said she even felt guilty that she didn’t have a story, especially after reading Chely Wright’s book. Chely is a country music singer who just recently came out and she had hate mail, death threats and just really horrible things happening to her. Clementine felt bad because her road was so different. She told her mom that she just broke up with her girlfriend and her mom just said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
- Kate was one of the cast of “South of Nowhere” and her co-star Mandy Musgrove hated her at first because all of Kate’s scenes were with Mandy’s then real-life boyfriend but now they are really good friends. This is when she got the call to audition for the role of Niki Stevens and she was really excited to get the part. And she was still filming the other show and was suppose to film some sad scene when she got the news so they had to do eleven takes of that scene because Kate couldn’t look sad.
- Kate’s first scene for The L Word” was an auditioning scene (where Jenny and Tina were looking for an actress to play Jessie). Mia and Laurel refused to introduce themselves so she had to take a moment to calm herself, thinking that they were messing with her. After the scene they told her that she did such a great job and it was just a trick to get her in the right mood.
- Clementine was offered the job when she was doing some commercials and had to walk in the heat, carrying tons of stuff so when she got the call she was excited but also very miserable so it didn’t hit her until she got home. She was nervous at first because she was working with bunch of people she respected so much, including her own mom. Everyone was super nice and welcoming to her.
- Both Clementine and Kate loved working with Jane Lynch and Clementine made a joke that she wanted her to be her step-dad. Jane is more awesome in real life than she is described by people who said she’s awesome.
- There were a lot of scenes in “The L Word” where they just could keep straight face or couldn’t stop laughing and had to re-shoot the scenes many times. For Kate one of these scenes was the pot brownies party where Mia and she had too much fun sometimes.
- Kate talked about “Gilrtrash” that started as web-series turned into a movie about a wild adventure that happened all in one night. Both Kate and Clementine got involved because of their work on “The L Word” with Angela Robinson and Alex Kondracke. They both had a blast.
- Kate is a little older and more mature than her character Niki Stevens is. Niki was young, naïve and dumb but she wasn’t an evil character and it was fun to play her. Clementine said that she’s generally much more open than her character Molly and she’s less uptight and controlling but still she thinks that she’s more like Molly in real life.
- Kate’s most difficult scene to film was when Niki was begging Jenny to hire her because it was such a long monolog with a lot of emotions. It was almost like in real life because she had to prove that she could work with such an incredible actress as Mia.
- Clementine said that her most difficult scene was also the easiest one at the same time. It was the one where her mom walks in on Molly and Shane having sex for the first time. It would be uncomfortable if some actress who played her mother would walk in but when it’s her real mother, it’s worse. The next scene was their argument and Clementine wanted to make it really good so she wouldn’t embarrass Cybill and after the scene her mother took her aside and asked if she was really angry because she was so believable.
- One of Clementine’s inspirations for acting was her mom. Kate said she always liked acting since she was a little girl and her parents were super supportive. They were her biggest inspiration because they were always pushing her towards acting.
- If they could choose any actor or actress dead or alive to make movie with, Kate would choose Kate Winslet because she’s talented, amazing and down to earth.
- Clementine would never do a remake of “Moonlighting” (show with Cybill and Bruce Willis). She thinks the show was so good. Even if the main character wasn’t played by her mom she wouldn’t touch that part.
- Clementine doesn’t really have a favorite type of music because music is like the air to her so she likes everything from country to metal to classical music. Kate is more of a soul and blues kind of music but she appreciates all kinds of music.