While we may all be familiar with Outfest, the LA-based non-profit dedicated to LGBT media, this weekend is the 10th annual of Outfest Fusion LGBT People Of Color Film Festival. Being the only multicultural LGBT film festival of its kind, the festival includes short and feature films that showcase diversity in the LGBT community. This year, out writer/director/producer Angela Robinson will receive the Fusion Achievement Award.
AfterEllen jumped on the phone with Robinson earlier this week to talk about being honored as well as her work bringing lesbian characters and stories to various projects she’s worked on like True Blood, Hung and The L Word. We also found out some interesting news on D.E.B.S. as well as some of other projects she’s involved in and just how queer they may be.
AfterEllen: How does it feel getting the Fusion Achievement Award at Outfest?
Angela Robinson: It’s really exciting, actually. Kirsten Schaffer (Executive Director of Outfest) called me a few weeks ago and asked if I would accept the award and I was really honored.
AE: Why do you think it’s important that we have the Outfest Fusion festival? It’s been around for 10 years already!
AR: It’s amazing. I was thinking back to my short films which I had submitted to the Festival and I feel like I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I feel like there’s more and more opportunities for people of color, LGBT voices — I wish I could say “It’s all great now and we’re represented all the time,” but that’s not the case. I feel like there’s so much more ground to gain and it’s great to come together and acknowledge and share our experiences and I think that it’s amazing to have the ability to do that.
AE: How do you advise young filmmakers who want to include queer elements in their work and some of the challenges they may face?
AR: It’s definitely a cliché but some clichés are clichés because they’re true but I feel like you have to be yourself. I’ve tried a lot of different things and I’ve tried to do other things like what I thought Hollywood wanted from me and whenever I threw all that out the window and was just honest about who I was and what I wanted to see represented in the world…that has been the most successful path for me and actually what people have most responded to.
AE: When you’re working for a TV series, like True Blood or Hung, granted they’re on cable, but have you found challenges when you’re hired to do a show that isn’t yours? How do you make sure YOU stay a part of your work?
AR: I’ve taken a long and winding road in my career in Hollywood but I’ve sought out places where I could most be myself…True Blood is an amazing show because it very much jives with my core beliefs and I’m able to explore all sorts of crazy shit like race and sexuality and it’s all a mishmash and one that I’m always pushing to put those themes and what makes me me into different television shows, be it The L Word or Hung or True Blood. You have to make it part of your show or else it’s not interesting.
Sometimes, like as a default, I’ll try to cast a black actress. Last year with a character on True Blood I thought, “Why don’t I make her a black woman?” instead of it being a white man. I feel like there are ways you can handle it and then there are the themes and ideas you put forth in your writers’ room or as the director that make its way onto the television screen.
AE: Will there be any new lesbian or bi characters on True Blood this season?
AR: I don’t want to over tease anything but I’ll just say that I always try when I’m able to push lesbian themes in the episodes that I write so you can watch the episodes that I write and see if you can find them. It’s really nice because Kristin Bauer, who plays Pam, and Rutina Wesley, who plays Tara, they’ll be there when I get my [Outfest Fusion] award on Saturday night so they’re coming out to support, which is really cool. It will be fun. I’m a little scared to see my clip reel.
AE: I’m sure D.E.B.S. will be on that clip reel. When was the last time you sat down and watched it or caught part of it on TV?
AR: I haven’t watched it in years but I ran into two straight guys and they found out I directed D.E.B.S. and they said “Oh my God! We have D.E.B.S. day!” They get stoned and watch D.E.B.S. with their friends. I thought that was awesome. I am about to re-look at it because I’m exploring the possibility of some television potential — perhaps.
AE: Last year it was announced you were doing a teen supernatural project with Dawn Olmstead and Marti Noxon. Where are we with that?
AR: I just turned in the final draft to Paramount and I just got word back that they’re happy with it so we’re waiting to hear if they’re going to make it or not. The response is really good so now we just wait and see if they want to make it into a movie.
AE: Is there an LGBT element to it at all?
AR: Nope! [laughs] It’s the only thing I’ve ever written that is just straight. There is not an ounce of gay in it, I’m very sorry to say. If we make it to the sequel I will definitely put a gay character in it, for sure.
AE: We will hold you to that! Do you have a dream project that you’ve always wanted to do that you have yet to get to?
AR: I actually do and I’m writing a dream project now that I’ve gotten some feedback on that I hope to make soon. I’m usually not that secretive of a person but I’m keeping it under wraps but it does have a strong lesbian element to it. If I do it, the ladies at AfterEllen will be very happy.
AE: How about dream casting? Anyone you’re dying to work with?
AR: Jessica Chastain would be amazing to work with. Angelina Jolie. Rosario Dawson. Nicole Kidman would be amazing to work with. Those are off the top of my head.
AE: Those are good ones! Let’s get them all in one project, huh?
AR: Wouldn’t that be rad?
AE: Any lesbian or bi filmmakers that you have your eye on because you like the work they’re doing?
AR: I really liked what Dee Rees did with Pariah. I’m really pumped to see what Kimberly Peirce does with Carrie. And there’s a new project called Edge Of Normal by a filmmaker named Amanda Overton. She’s doing this web series about some lesbian superheroes, which is awesome, and I’m really excited about it.
For more information on this weekend’s event, visit http://Outfest.org/fusion.