Getting to Know “Lovers and Friends”

 
 

The cast members are equally enthusiastic about their
participation the series. "What really attracted me to the show [was that
I] would be able to work with so many talented and powerful women," said Rodriguez,
who serves as the assistant director in addition to playing the closeted boss
having a tryst with her employee Tori.

Left to right: BeBe Brunswick, Nicola Pina, Christy Rodriguez,
Kendal Starr, Marlaina Law, Shakelia Tharpe

Rodriguez was headed to California to focus on her acting
career when Johnson asked her to work on the show. "Next thing I know, I’m
in the show assisting directing, and I haven’t been happier," she said.

Kissa Jo, who plays a "nasty, bitchy" character named
Sasha, said was also headed to another locale when she auditioned for the show,
but she had a "gut feeling" about the project and dropped her plans
to move.

"I saw the first episode and I was so impressed,"
she gushed. "I saw so much potential, and it was like finally someone is
doing something instead of just talking," she said of Johnson’s ambition
and drive to actually follow through with plans to create the show. "In
California I had a free ride for school and just refused to leave because I
just truly believe in this project and that it’s going to be big one day."

For Tamar Sabb, who plays the character Deirdre,
participating in the show has political implications. She said she "gets
tired" of watching TV and seeing characters whose lives are alien to her.

"I mean I love The
L Word
, I love Queer as Folk, but
I couldn’t relate to anybody on that damn show," she said. "It’s a
beautiful thing to see people that I know and that I can relate to on the
screen knowing that we’re online, that there’s someone in California watching, that
there’s someone in the Caribbean watching it."

The enthusiasm the cast has for their characters was clearly
detectable in their voices when they talked about their roles on the show.

Law, who plays Kai, said she loves portraying an innocent
yet flirtatious jock butch character who also can "carry out a good amount
of drama."

The handsome Tharpe, who plays the two-timing Dre, said that
the thing she likes most about her character is her confidence and "that
she doesn’t care about what people think about her."

Rodriguez also cited confidence as the best asset of her
character, Mercedes, but admitted that one of the best parts of her role is
that she gets to work with sexy Nicole Pina.

Pina, who was cited last month as one of the "hottest
women of color
" on AfterEllen.com, is just happy the show is on the map. After she received the
accolade for her attractiveness she called her mother, who gave her a slap-in-the-face
reality check and told her, "Don’t let it get to your head." Pina
said the praise was "amazing" and "unexpected."

Johnson and Greene are astounded by how quickly the show has
achieved a cult-like following online. The D.C. event was the first time she
received feedback from fans in person, and she "really got the
understanding that wow, this is bigger than just emails. It was just a shock."

Greene said she "didn’t know we’d be this far already."

While they are ecstatic about the success they have already
experienced, they still have to contend with obstacles in raising funds and getting
the show more exposure. They plan to hit more festivals, including Jacksonville
Black Pride (Aug. 8–10) and Atlanta Black Pride (Aug. 9–Sept. 1).

But for Johnson, by far the most difficult issue in
producing the show is "money, money, money."

While the first episode is available in its entirety on YouTube,
the subsequent episodes only have previews available online. Reminiscent of the
early distribution for the black gay television series Noah’s Arc, full versions are only available for purchase on DVD
and can be ordered from the show’s website. Green would love for fans to
continue to show their support by buying DVDs to supplement the show’s budget.

"We need all the support that we can get so we can keep
going," she said. "It allows us to be another alternative to what’s
already out there." She is an advocate of supporting indie entertainment
in general.

"Let’s not let other people decide what we should
watch," she continued. "Let’s support ourselves."

For more on The Lovers and Friends Show, visit its
official website.

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