AE: Everyone in the entertainment world is trying to move up the fame ladder. Oprah’s trying to become more famous and powerful than the sun. In the first episode of McManusLand, you’re trying to become more famous and powerful than Oprah. And all over Hollywood, there are people trying to become as famous and powerful as Bridget McManus. You made a list of ways to become Oprah. Make a list of ways the burgeoning celebrities can become Bridget McManus.
BM: First I would tell them to set their goals higher than being like me. Being Bridget McManus is easy: step one, drink lots of coffee, step two, have tons of props and costumes on hand (leotards are a must!). Step three, never stop moving. I’m like a shark, if I stop moving I die. But I’m a vegetarian shark. I’m the shark who is friends with all the fish, although I don’t like the ocean because it’s dirty and creepy and I’m scared my contacts will pop out of my eyes and float away. Wait, what was the question again?
AE: I’ve heard a lot of actors say they refuse to be on camera with cute kids or adorable pets because they don’t want to be up-staged. Are you worried about that with your dog? ‘Cause just from that one episode, I can see she’s got a lot of star potential.
BM: Taffy Davenport steals every scene she is in. For some reason my dog knows where the camera and her light are at all times. She knows her angles and she’s always ready to perform. I have a stage in my living room and whenever I get on it to practice my stand up, Taffy jumps on it too as if you say, “it’s my turn, Mommy.” I wonder where she gets that from?
AE: Can you tell us a little bit about your partnership with tellofilms?
BM: I first collaborated with Tellofilms in 2009 on a game show also called McManusLand. I flew to Chicago, where tellofilms is based, and hosted the improv game show with a group of Second City members. When tellofilms decided to create original content and produce their own projects, they approached me with a budget and said what do you want to do? I immediately thought of doing a dark comedy in which I make fun of myself. I wrote up a pitch, sent it to tello and my producing partner Adriana Torres and we kicked ideas around until McManusLand was resurrected and transformed into a mockumentary.
I describe tellofilms as the online HBO for lesbians. tello produces terrific content for lesbians by lesbians. Their website is free, but to access the premium content, like episodes of McManusLand and Cowgirl Up, there is a $3.99/ monthly fee. What tellofilms is doing is revolutionary. They are developing and funding lesbian films. Too often straight stories get funded by big studios and then lesbian films don’t get made. tello is actually making great content, but they can’t do it alone.
I think a lot of people still balk at the idea of paying for online content when so much is still available at no cost. But it’s about quality, not quantity. When production teams have budgets, they can hire the best people to do the best jobs. As a result, you can (and, I think, should) expect a better product. In our world, artists of every type are regularly expected to work for free, even though most of us went to school and pursued training just like people in every other profession. So just as you might pay to stream a movie on Netflix, watch a show on HBO or rent a movie at the video store, you can pay for premium content online. Only at tellofilms.com, you will actually have your choice of shows that are made by and for lesbian audiences. I think it’s a great bargain, and it’s good karma to subscribe. And I would say that even if I didn’t have a show on tello!
AE: It’s $3.99 a month for a premium subscription, which is, as you say, less than the cost of one latte. What other four-buck items could we give up to make room for a tellofilms subscription in our monthly budgets?
BM: Well do we really need toilet paper? One drink at a bar can run you $6 or $14 if you live in Los Angeles, yet for less than $4 a month you can see terrific content that is tailored specifically to you. I encourage everyone to subscribe because the more demand the more tello will supply.
AE: What kind of shenanigans can we expect in the rest of the season?
BM: There are a few chase scenes, Fortune Feimster and I will be in costumes shooting a new action series (which is a series within the McManusLand series) and you might recognize some familiar faces from the AfterEllen.com staff making cameos. Let’s just say that McManusLand Bridget will truly stop at nothing to achieve her delusional aspirations. No one is safe, not even her closest friends.
AE: McManusLand Bridget’s number one dream is to be the next Oprah/Megan Fox; what is Real Life Bridget’s number one dream?
BM: To be the lesbian Larry David. I want to write and produce smart, entertaining television.
AE: Instead of sitting around and waiting for the mainstream industry to offer up mainstream projects to you, you make a lot of your own art. Why? And do you have any advice for artists who would like to do the same?
BM: I have a great agent and I audition regularly for mainstream film and TV, but that’s not enough. Last year I was up for a role opposite Ryan Reynolds in a raunchy comedy and I had to wear a see-through nightie and ride a chair in the audition. But, not surprisingly, the role went to a Maxim model.
I don’t like the idea of being a passive performer. The idea of me waiting for someone else to like me and include me in their projects so I can work seems ridiculous. If you want to be an artist make art. Who cares if it sucks? Most art sucks but you have to suck for a while in order to get better at whatever you want to do. Marilyn Monroe once said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” So don’t behave and don’t ever be scared, if you want to do something then do it!
Do you think Marilyn Monroe actually said that or do you think a writer wrote that line for her to say? The real life Bridget is cynical.
Here’s an exclusive clip from McManusLand:
You can watch new episodes of McManusLand every Wednesday at tellofilms.com. become a subscriber to tellofilms.com, then login to the tello Premium section, where you’ll see the first two episode of the show, as well as episodes of Cowgirl Up, exclusive interviews and more.