Interview with The L Word ‘s Daniela Sea

AE: So I imagine, since your character gets involved with Jenny, you've filmed some love scenes. How did you feel about doing that, especially as kind of a beginning actor?
DS: A funny fact would be that our first scene was actually a making out scene. I just got thrown right in there. You know what? It's fine. It's funny because it doesn't feel like you're—I mean, I don't know if it doesn't feel like you're making out with somebody, but it breaks it down to this really technical thing. For example, you start the scene, and then it's like, “OK, cut, we've got to change the lights here,” or turn it around or.…

When I first started…I felt a little—I won't say shy, but it's really revealing in a certain way. But it's acting, so it's not like somebody watching you making out with somebody you love, because you're not you and they're not them; you're both characters. I guess I really liked it; it was fun. And they've seen it all—the whole crew and everything—it obviously has a lot of stuff like that in the show; it has a lot of love scenes, so it was nothing new for them. I felt pretty at ease with it, and Rose Troche was my first director and she's just so awesome, so I feel like she really helped break me in.

AE: I was actually going to ask you what was the atmosphere like on the set there. Did you guys hang out after filming?
DS: They've all been doing it for a few years now, so they've got their routines. The Canadian crew up there is just so awesome, and the directors—each one was just so special in a different way. We had all the way from Frank Pierson, who is like 80-something years old, directing some of my most graphic sex scenes, to older women, younger women—it's just a whole mix of people. We're all so busy, so it's not like you're hanging out all the time, but…I feel like definitely some of the time we'd be hanging out. But most of the time I feel like that happened on set…. You're working so hard, and I was working with a coach and stuff, and just living my life. I just liked to go for a lot of hikes and stuff…and I think everyone's kind of like that in a way. I feel like we definitely got some good time in together. There's so many wonderful people that worked on it.

AE: I wanted to ask you if you personally identify as a lesbian.
DS: I think that depends on how I would want to identify. I mean, I definitely have only had significant relationships since I was 19 with women. And politically I'm definitely a lesbian, or a dyke, or on the queer spectrum. Every few years it changes, how we want to define it. But I feel very woman-centered. Most of my—I won't say most of my friends—but definitely a significant amount of my professional career has been with women, as an actor but also with music.

But I…don't believe that gender is just binary, and I never have, so that's what pulls me to sometimes politically identify as a lesbian, because I'm a feminist, and I feel like women are still so suppressed. I don't feel like we've come that far. But I also feel like there are people all along the spectrum, so in that sense, I feel like I would be more bisexual or just, you know, open-ended.

AE: I know that you're in a relationship with Bitch, and it sounds like you guys have a great relationship.
DS:
Yeah, we've been together for three and a half years.

AE: When you say that you might identify on the bisexual end of it, that really intrigues me, because I'm wondering: Would you ever be attracted to a man, do you think?
DS: Well, a man, that's what gets strange. Like I said, I believe that there are people all [along]…a spectrum. I'm more of a boy than some of the people who are born as men are in some ways, our society would say. [I have some] friends who were born as women, [and] they may or may not be taking hormones, but they definitely live as women, and so are they women or men? Then it starts to get hazy. In my life as an adult, since I've been 19, I've only had significant relationships with women, people who were born as women, who have stayed identifying as women.

But I have to keep it open, because what about my friends or people I meet who used to be women, and now they look like men or they identify as men? What if I fall in love [with them] or feel something? For now I'm happily committed to a monogamous relationship with my girlfriend, but I'm talking theoretically about sexuality. My father's gay and I was raised in a really open environment, so sometimes I feel like any kinds of lines you try to draw always end up—you always end up being flexible in some way. People are so creative, I think.

AE: That's true. Do you feel like The L Word has been accurately representing the diversity of lesbian culture?
DS: I feel like it's a slice of lesbian life of a certain group of lesbians. It seems to be mostly on the wealthy side, women from L.A., which I think is a small slice compared to my life [and] when I think of all the different kinds of lesbians I've met in the world. I don't think it can represent a whole cross-section of our culture; it's just one little piece. I do like that it age-wise it's got a little variation, and I like that it's a little bit culturally mixed. But I wouldn't say it accurately represents all lesbians. I think for the L.A. scene I could imagine it's like that.

I don't really know; I haven't spent that much time there as an adult. I'm not much of a TV watcher; I'd never really seen [The L Word] when I got the job, but I've definitely watched everything now, and I actually really enjoy the writing and the acting of it. I feel like it's pretty creative. I did feel like some of the subject matter, especially like showing lesbians who want to get pregnant, or lesbians who have a history of drug problems…are pretty intriguing.

AE: What did you think about some of the controversies that came up last year among viewers, like the Mark storyline with the videotaping, and the whole issue with whether there enough butches on the show?
DS:
I don't look to television to represent me because it never has, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was anything relatively like what I [have experienced]. The one thing I felt about the filming thing [in the Mark storyline] is [that] I didn't understand why they didn't just kick this dude out. It was crazy to me. Like, why did they keep bringing him back? I've never asked, because it's not part of my storyline and I don't really need to know, but I have, as the character, hypothetically tried to figure out why was it that they didn't kick this guy out.

I actually do think that women oftentimes do act under duress from the patriarchy and do things they would not normally do, and tend to put men on some kind of pedestal or let them get away with things that, you know, even lesbians that I know [would let them get away with]. So I guess I could kind of see it, but if you think of it as some kind of representation, I would rather…kick the guy out, [and] show us being strong and standing up for ourselves.

And the butch question? That's funny, because L.A. has a reputation of all these lipstick lesbian types. But when I've gone out there, it's actually not really like that. There's all different kinds of people. There are femmes; there are also plenty of butches on the scene. Maybe certain groups of people don't have butches around; I don't really know. I'm not sure if it's accurate…but I feel like Shane fills it out pretty well. The Shane character—people tend to gravitate toward her, and I think Kate's done a great job representing the butch side, but I always feel like the more the better, you know.

I just think it's interesting as lesbians, or as women activists, feminists—we're demanding, because we don't have enough space on the airwaves. But I think sometimes we want each little thing to represent, to be the perfect thing, instead of just [being] the story. Nobody's speaking up for some Ernest Hemingway book and saying, well, you didn't represent all of Spain in this story; you're just representing the people you've met. I wish there were 20 shows on the air about lesbians, and then we could have all kinds of shows. I don't think that one show can represent everybody, or one piece of art, or anything. And I do think it's probably…representative of certain kinds of women in L.A.

AE: You're only the second openly gay regular cast member on the show. Was that a difficult choice for you to make, to be openly gay?
DS:
That was never a choice. I never even entertained not being out. It's just so much a part of my life. My dad's gay, and I was going to gay pride marches since I was a baby, and there was never a question [of not being out]. I feel like they want me and everything that I am. I can't hide anything.

AE: Do you think that being out is going to limit your acting choices? Or even because you're not typically feminine looking?
DS: No, I don't think so at all. In fact, I think it's to my advantage. I'm not worried about it at all because for me, art comes first. It always has. I've never made choices for any safety reasons in my life—you know, hitchhiking across Bulgaria or whatever. I feel like the world is definitely opening up for us, and it takes people in the public eye to open it even more. I think that there will be a plethora of roles coming out. I don't feel like I could only play a tomboy or I could only play boyish types of girls at all. I have different sides to me, too, and I'm confident I could play all kinds of roles.

AE: I did want to ask you about your traveling because it's so incredible—you've traveled so many places. What's one of your favorite places that you've been?
DS:
It's hard to say because I've actually loved all the different places I've been, and I've lived in a lot of places for extended periods of time. Right now, when I think about it, I would say Poland , because I learned to speak Polish and a lot of my friends are Polish and I spent a very good amount of time there. It's a beautiful, amazing country. It's definitely got a heavy, mixed history. A good amount of my friends growing up were Jewish, and I was raised hearing a lot of different stories from grandparents about Poland, and going there definitely was a heavy thing for me in some ways.

But people are people everywhere, and we all have these heavy histories in any nation. I just learned so much from living there. Just hanging out with people who weren't brought up under capitalism was a real eye-opener for me, and it made me learn a lot about how we can live together and work together to make change. It's also really gorgeous there. I've lived in a lot of villages there, and I just really love that old way of life, where people are farming their own food and live a self-sustaining life.

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