L8 Convention in Brighton, UK – Day 2, Part 2 Report
After a short break, our next guests were Laurel Holloman and Janina Gavankar. Janina was only staying for one day and she wanted to use for a full advantage of interacting with fans and having fun. At L5 Convention she was with her mom and they both had a wonderful time. This year her mom couldn’t come but she sent Janina an email to share with fans where she said that at the last convention she met some amazing women. She wished she was here to say Hi to them but she knows we all were going to have a great reunion. The email was accompanied by a few shout outs to some of the fans that follow Janina’s mom on Facebook and the list was placed on the big screen.
Their Q&A session was really entertaining, including Laurel’s hilarious impression of Papi. Janina was right behind her, re-enacting a scene where Tina was emailing DaddyOf2. Janina said this was the scene that came to her mind every time she thought about Tina.
- Janina mentioned that she didn’t know that Laurel was painting because they didn’t see each other for some time and she was amazed at the portfolio that Laurel brought with her.
- Janina was leaving earlier because she has to be back on the set of “True Blood” that she is filming. She almost didn’t make it at all but she wanted to come, even if only for one day. She is playing a shape-shifter on a new season.
- Janina was talking to a reporter earlier who asked if she attends convention for fans’ adoration (by the way, it was not me because I know better) and Janina replied that it’s absolutely not true. They attend conventions to show their appreciations to the fans who supported them throughout the years.
- Laurel said that she is the worst Facebooker but her art website on Facebook – laurelhollomonastudio – is more active and will be updated more frequently. Janina said that she has a page now that anyone can join because it allows more friends. She’s admitted again that she’s a geek. They both shared their twitter names @nalamommy for Laurel and @janinaz for Janina and then Janina realized that she was already following Laurel but when you follow a lot of people it’s hard to keep up. They also mentioned a few people they follow and recommended some to us, like Arianna Huffington. Janina said that twittering is a wonderful experience of social networking.
- A fan told Laurel that the show changed her life and she will be forever grateful to Laurel for that. The chemistry between Bette and Tina was unbelievable and made this fan feel that being with a woman was the most beautiful thing in the world. Laurel wiped away some tears because she was touched by fan’s gratitude and said that she was having “Jennifer moment” (who was getting teary quite a lot during Q&A’s at L5 Convention).
- When answering a question about what makes them happy, Laurel replied that it was true intimacy with a partner or family, and also her girls.
- Janina was wearing a very interesting shirt she made herself and she told us that she brought tons of shirts she made with her own design that says “Sparkle Tooth”. Janina shared with us where the idea came from. She just wanted to do something cool and it basically means, “I’m so fresh and so clean, my teeth sparkle” and then she made a face that is the design on the shirt. Each fan could also get free stickers to put them anywhere they want or where they live and then take a photo and post on Janina’s Facebook page.
- The dance scene in episode 607 was pretty short when they filmed it but they practiced a lot for that. Laurel said that it was so much fun and it was her favorite episode that season. Rose Troche directed that episode and she was always one of Laurel’s favorite directors. Laurel just recently ran into her and they talked about that it was sort of a bookend because episode 607 was second to the last of the whole series and Rose also directed the Pilot. So Rose was with the show from the beginning and she is such a strong writer and director.
- The dance episode also made Laurel realize that it was the end. She wasn’t thinking about it until they began shooting the dance episode and Rose Troche was crying, saying, “I can’t believe this is over.” Laurel and Jennifer shed some tears too because it hit them that they were done.
- Janina’s favorite episode to shoot was the basketball scene because she had an opportunity to work with the whole cast. Her character, Papi, was supposed to be this great basketball player and Janina admitted that she didn’t know what the hell she was doing.
- Laurel said that she would definitely do the movie if that will happen. The premise for that movie would be the idea that Bette and Tina moved to New York because of Tina’s new job and all the girls come and visit them. She and the other cast members talked about the movie before because they are all willing to do it.
- Laurel’s movie “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love” was shot in 21 days because it was a thesis project for Maria Maggenti. Laurel didn’t walk, talk or looked like her character so she had to work hard to fit the part. It was a great storyline about schoolgirls in an interracial relationship. Laurel still keeps in touch with Nicole Ari Parker, who played the other girl, Evie. No one had done anything like that before. It was a great experience for Laurel and the movie was received really well at Sundance Festival; so well in fact, that they had an extra screening. It was during times when Sundance was more open to new actors, new directors and wasn’t as mainstream as it is now.
- Laurel’s favorite “The L Word” character is Joyce Wischnia, played by Jane Lynch. She’s very loose and funny and did a wonderful job with her character. In a lot of their scenes together Laurel tried hard not to laugh. Janina’s favorite character was Peggy Peabody (Janina said “Rachel’s mom”). Laurel added that it was great when they brought in actors who were older and did a wonderful job, so Ilene did good in that respect. Janina also liked Dana’s mom storyline that was shown in one of the flashbacks.
- If “The L Word” would continue, in ten years, according to Laurel, Bette and Tina will be living in New York City, would finish their adoption and had a second child, and there hopefully will be no more cheating, no more men, no more chaos. They would respect each other and be happy because they earned it.
- Laurel remembered that one of the most hilarious scenes they shoot was the Charlie’s Angels sequence. Leisha was Farrah Fawsett and Laurel kept thinking at first that it was unfair that she had to play Bosley. When they began filming, Leisha was waving her hair and her wig fell off and it was so funny that some people were literally rolling on the floor, laughing out loud.
- One of Janina’s most memorable moments was the circles scene in the car. When they finish shooting it, they were told that it wasn’t sexy enough. They had to reshoot it and it was a lot of fun.
- Janina didn’t always wanted to be an actress. When she was little she wanted to be a vet but one day she was in a school production of “Westside Musical” and it changed her life forever. Laurel wanted to be a professional horse jumper. She was also too shy and was scared to audition. It all changed when she was in college.
- Janina is constantly inspired by everything. She said she sometimes just walks around and watches people. One time in the diner she was so fascinated with some girl and the way she talked that Janina was making notes on how she talked, what she was wearing, because she was a real woman.
- Laurel was influenced by Judy Blume’s books but even though she read a lot, she was inspired more by films. Her parents got separated when they were young and her dad needed a movie partner, so Laurel watched a lot of movies growing up. She also had an early film education that eleven year-old probably shouldn’t have. At the same time she was watching movies with such great actresses like Jane Fonda, Debra Winger, Jessica Lange, etc., when there were no reality shows and characters didn’t need to look like models. When Laurel watches Meryl Streep act, she doesn’t need to know what face moisturizer she uses.
- Laurel wants her girls to grow into strong women but most of all she wants them to find love. She hopes that they will watch “The L Word” and know that she was a part of a wonderful show.
- Janina’s favorite character actor is Stanley Tucci. Laurel loves Meryl Streep. Laurel’s dream role to make movies like Jodie Foster had done, strong women. She watched “The Brave One” and thought that it could be a great TV show about a vigilante in New York. She also wants to do more comedy. Janina wants to do different genres, even a musical.
- Laurel’s favorite music is Damian Rice, Coldplay, and Radiohead. She calls it “sad bastard music”. Also she likes Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Janina likes all kinds of music, lately she’s been listening to Jay Sean and Jessie J. But also at home she likes to listen to classical Russian composers.
- Someone asked about sex scenes on the show and the award she won for the best sex scene at the Bravo A-list awards. Laurel said that didn’t know what to say but when she saw an award it looked like a prop from the show and that’s what she said. Janina said that she liked Laurel and Jennifer’s sex scenes because they were there to advance the plot and not for the sex sake. That’s why they were so powerful.
- Laurel told us that Jennifer and she talked about the sex scenes before shooting them because their characters had sexual and emotional history and they wanted to convey that. When they finished shooting their love scene in the Pilot, Rose Troche told them to watch it because it was so great and they talked about what makes those scenes emotional and intimate, what makes them special for that couple. After they watched that scene from the Pilot, Jennifer and Laurel actually high-fived each other, saying, “Yay, we did it.” From the Pilot on, both Laurel and Jennifer fought to show exactly where their characters were, and that’s why they didn’t have any kind of gratuitous sex scenes. They were all intelligent, even if they were painful to watch, like the sex scene of betrayal at the end of season one. They tried really hard to tell the truth to create so much more than just sex, so anyone who watches it, no matter straight or gay, they can connect to it.
- Laurel also talked about the last scene of the Pilot, the sex scene between Bette and Tina that was a combination of rage, power struggle, and sex. It was very hard to watch but especially hard to play. Tony Goldwyn directed it who is an excellent director. Ilene said that no one ever shot a lesbian sex scene that was hurtful or disturbing and they wanted to show that that happens. A lot of it was Tina’s struggle to be in power after she was being betrayed and because she knew she won’t sleep with Bette again for a very long time.
- When Laurel paints she listens to a lot of music and it’s affecting the work that she’s doing. She painted without music before and it was hard, she felt disconnected. Sometimes she listens to the same song over and over again.
- For their future plans, Janina would like to do more music. Laurel is planning to travel to a few European cities after the convention and will be busy with panting for the next 12 months; she even had three art exhibits offers. She’s also busy with a commission for a big corporate building in Italy, so she had to put her acting career on hold for at least the next 12 months. Laurel had some posters with her and they will be making more. More information is available on www.laurelhollomanstudio.net
The last Q&A’s of the day was with Lauren Lee Smith and Erin Daniels. They played a couple on “The L Word” and it was interesting to watch them interact. Erin is really funny, she could easily be a stand-up comedian. Lauren had changed her hair cut again. She even mentioned later that nobody recognizes her on the street because she changes her hair so often. They also re-enacted a scene from season one when Dana asked Lara out.
- Erin was talking about some dramatic scenes in Mr. Piddles story and said that humor could be found in any tragedy. Scenes with Mr. Piddles were fun to shoot because he was an important character. She was such an allergic to the cat and every time she cuddled with him, she had to take pills.
- Lauren was talking about movie “Helen” where she starred alongside Ashley Judd and she said that the most important thing for her was that a lot of people could relate to the storyline on so many different levels. Mental illness is real and it’s hard to portray it honest. She read the script and thought that it was so incredibly truthful, especially because it was based on the director’s personal story. Lauren had some people close to her who suffered from various degrees of the illness and she spent a lot of time speaking to them to prepare for the role. It wasn’t the easiest role to play.
- If they had to choose an actor to make a movie with they both mentioned Tilda Swinton, who is incredibly talented, though they also find her very intimidating. They also mentioned Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet.
- Erin was asked about her reaction when she was told that Dana was going to die. Erin showed with her face and voice that she’s still a little bitter about it. Erin said that she was shocked when she found out about it. Ilene took her to lunch like they all did to discuss the storylines for an upcoming season and this is when she told her. She was never really told a reason why they chose to go that way. Erin cried for a while and tried to make peace with it.
- After that she didn’t watch the rest of the series. She said she tried a few times but it felt like watching her friends at a party that she wasn’t invited to. She did hear that Jenny had died and said, “Jenny’s dying? They couldn’t just leave it to me.” Yep, Erin definitely has a great sense of humor.
- Someone asked Lauren why is she so awesome. Lauren laughed shyly and said that she is not awesome. Erin added (as a joke of course), “She’s really not.” It was funny.
- When Lauren was asked to be on “SCI” she was told what character they wanted to create for her and she was really excited to be on the show (Lauren was in all 22 episodes of season nine). Half way through the season she sort of got lost in the midst of all the characters. She kept asking why they are still keeping her on a show if she only comes to film once a week but it was basically an indication that they didn’t know what to do with the character. Erin joked that she would be excited if she would barely work and still get paid for it. Lauren added that it was a great experience with great actors.
- Lauren mentioned her latest projects, series called “The Listener” and a comedy series “Good Dog.” In “The Listener” she’s playing Sgt. Michelle McCluskey.
- Erin talked about appearing as a ghost of Dana and she said it was so much fun, because she had to spent whole afternoon with one of her best friends, playing a character she already knew intimately. It had some fun moments but at the end it got more serious so Erin was glad she was able to do it.
- Erin really was excited about Dana’s breast cancer storyline because it was an important story to tell but she felt that they did it irresponsibly. She tried to do her best to tell this story truthfully but she still thinks that they could have done it differently and show that Dana survived. It would’ve been so much more positive. She is proud of the work that she did on the show but Dana’s survival would be so much better.
- Ilene said that they wanted to tell the story that actually happened. And it’s true, people do die from breast cancer but with the audience that the show had, they also had a social responsibility. There were several show on the air that year that were killing off some of their characters and Erin said that it was almost like a contest to see who will kill off the most popular character for a shock value.
- Erin still thinks they made a wrong choice with killing Dana or at least should’ve given more humor to those scenes. Life is better when you kind find something funny in it. It’s tragic enough in real life and you don’t want to see the same things you want to escape on TV. Erin was still clearly upset about it and one fan jokingly played a role of a therapist, telling Erin to let it go. In the end, Erin said that there’s reason for everything because if she wouldn’t left the show she might not met her husband and had a baby.
- Erin thought that Shane was a fantastic character, this hot chick that everyone wanted to sleep with. She said she had straight friends who wanted to sleep with Shane. Also, when she sees Shane she sees Kate, who is also one of her best friends. Shane was a sex symbol and Kate played her to a T.
- Erin said that she only heard about some of the storylines after she left, including Jenny’s storylines. Lauren added that she actually watched season five and was surprised that Jenny became such an unlikable character. Erin said that they just tried to keep it interesting.
- Erin still sees some of the cast quite often. She’s best friends with Kate and Leisha; she sees Laurel and also talks to Jennifer once in a while. They are all trying to keep in touch.
- Lauren feels very fortunate because she hasn’t stop working since she finished “The L Word” so now she plans to re-introduce herself to her friends and her family and just rejuvenate. Erin said that she took a break when she had her son and her plans now to keep working because she needs to have health insurance. She has two movies in post-production, called “The Sitter” and “Portland”.
- Lauren knew that she wanted to be an actress since she was four and participated in little plays but she was 14 when she finally convinced her mom that she was still serious about it.
- Erin said that acting is a tough business and you should do it only if you absolutely sure it’s what you want to do and there’s nothing else that you want to do. If there’s something else you imagine yourself doing then do that.