Canadian actress and musician Marnie Alton has been a staple in LGBT entertainment for nearly a decade. Alton starred in Logo’s 2006 lesbian comedy series Exes & Ohs as the sexy Sam and went on to steal scenes in Tellofilms’s Cowgirl Up. Her latest project #Hashtag (available at OneMorelesbian.com), which just wrapped shooting for its second season and follows the love lives of two technology-obsessed best friends Skylar and Liv (played by Caitlin Bergh and Laura Zak). In it, Alton costars as Tash, one of Liv’s many love interests and one with whom she has quite a lot of chemistry! I chatted up Alton to get the scoop on #Hashtag season 2, her new business and her love of Crazy Eyes.
Photo by Kerry Krenzin
AfterEllen.com: Welcome back to LA! You just flew to Chicago to shoot season 2 of the lesbian webseries #Hashtag. Can you dish on the latest installment of the series and tell us what’s in store for Tash and Liv?
Marnie Alton: The good news is that this season is as funny and relevant as the first one. The story picks up where we left off and follows all the characters through the next stage of their relationships (and breakups). We finally get to meet Marlee’s Mom (she’s a hottie) and Liv may or may not handle the two of us in the best possible way. At the start of the season Liv, Tash and Liv’s phone are having a great time getting more serious, but there are definitely some twists and turns along their road to bliss…
Courtesy of #Hashtag/Onemorelesbians.com/tello
AE: You starred in the Logo series Exes & Ohs, which I loved! If the show was still running today what do you think your character Sam would be up to?
MA: Ahhhhh Sam… I miss that girl! I think the second series of Exes and Ohs left Sam in a place where she had lost a lot of her power. She was trying so hard to be what she “thought she should”– a responsible, monogamous, homeowner — that she had begun to lose her sense of self. Funny thing is, I related to her a lot at that time in my life. I think that if the show had continued we would have seen Sam put on her big girl panties, sell the condo, and take off traveling (like she was contemplating at the end of the season). She would have come back with some new plan of attack and many a tale of exotic trysts. Sam would have her fire back by now.
AE: You’ve had many female on-screen love interests, who would be your dream leading lady to start opposite?
MA: Ooh, good question, McManus. Lemme think…definitely Cate Blanchett. She inspires me on every level.
AE: With those love interests you’ve had a fair amount of lady on lady on-screen kisses. (Even more than I have!) Can you give some on-screen kissing advice to our readers?
MA: No tongue.
AE: Ha! Then why have I been using so much tongue this whole time? Ok, you’re Canadian, so tell us something about Canada we might not already know.
MA: Three fun facts about my homeland:
1) If you write a letter to Santa Claus and mail it you will get a reply (even if your parents don’t know you wrote it). It’s pretty amazing as a kid.
2) Our hundred dollar bills smell like maple syrup even though I’ve read that the Bank of Canada denies it.
3) A town in British Columbia has the postal code “V4G 1N4.” You’re welcome.
AE: Umm, yes, thank you for that. I now know where I’ll be vacationing for Christmas. On top of everything else you’re also a very talented singer and musician. You composed music for Cowgirl Up. Will you be doing any music for #Hashtag or any other projects in the future? Is there a Marnie Alton album in the works?
MA: Music is truly my first love. The reason I became an actor is because I was diagnosed with vocal nodes at 16 while performing a month long run of the musical Big River. Years of speech therapy and doctors wore me out and I started booking film and TV gigs in Vancouver, so I decided to go that route instead. I never wanted to put the pressure on my music to support me. I protect it in a way. It’s my creative outlet that never has to be anything more. At the same time I am endlessly grateful for the people who support it. Having an audience inspires me to make more music and share it. Right now I’ve started a brand new project born out of my years as a dancer: a “barre fitness” studio in LA. It’s called Barre Belle and right now it’s taking up most of my time. I love it. As soon as I can catch my breath again the first thing I’ll do is pick up my guitar. I have a bunch of unreleased songs I’ve been dying to lay down too so, who knows, a new album may be in the future.
AE: Will there be a Cowgirl Up Season 3, and will you be open to reprising your role as Abby?
MA: I have no inside scoop on that one. I love Abby though so if I get the phone call that there is a season 3, I’ll be there.
AE: Are you a fan of Orange is the New Black? If so, who’s your favorite character and if you could create a guest-starring role for yourself what would your storyline entail?
MA: I love OITNB! It’s the only show in the last few years that really made me miss acting. It’s hard to pick a favorite character because as an actor I think it would be exciting to explore a lot of them. That’s what makes it so good, there are actually multiple well-written, complex female roles. I feel like it’s the first of it’s kind in that respect. I’d love to play an inmate that comes in and stirs stuff up…maybe give Nicky or Alex a run for their money, helps bring out Piper’s inner bad-ass, or anything opposite Suzanne “Crazy Eyes,” cuz I really admire Uzo Aduba as an actor.
AE: Which actor would you have play you in your life story?
MA: Meryl Streep. I think she’d really be able to nail that “Northern Alberta” accent I had as a kid.
AE: Streep, huh? Solid choice. I think I’d pick Jared Leto for myself, although he’s so much prettier than I am that I don’t know that I’d want to deal with the comparison. And what would be the title of your biopic?
MA: If This Got Made I Must Have Done Something Right…
AE: Let’s talk about your latest project, your new fitness studio Barre Belle in Los Angeles. Congratulations on your beautiful business, of which I’m a loyal follower. For those who don’t know, can you explain what barre is?
MA: Totally! Barre is the biggest fitness trend right now but it’s actually rooted in really traditional flexibility and strength training. I’ve been studying this type of work for the last 10 years and wanted to created a new style of barre that increased the cardio, energy and fun of the class without sacrificing the technical awareness and fluidity of the motions. It includes components of Pilates, yoga and ballet. The studio is lined with ballet barres which are used for stretching and balance, but there is no actual “dancing” or experience required. The workout itself is dominantly “weight-bearing,” which means we create positions that trigger your muscles to support another part of your body. This burns fat like crazy! There are intervals of challenge where you’re shaking all over, followed by specific stretch sequences to create balance. We move through the body from feet to head so no muscle group gets missed. I’m really excited about the changes I’m seeing in my regulars. In just nine weeks of being open there have been amazing transformations. You, Bridget, are the perfect example! Holy hotness!
Photo by Kerry Krenzin
AE: I’m seriously obsessed with your studio and, as you know, I go five to six times a week. Why is barre so important to you and how has it changed your life?
MA: I spent so many years concerned with how “skinny” I was. As an actress it’s a constant struggle to be thin, and I had a really bad relationship with my body for a long time. Even when I first started taking barre classes it was all about how it made me look–it made my body leaner and more defined than ever. The thing that really changed me though, was how it made me feel. I felt STRONG. Not only did I look better but I felt better. It’s my belief that our bodies and minds are connected and one directly affects the other. I found that when I started focusing on making my body stronger (rather than depleting it with endless exercise and restrictive diets) my mind got stronger too. I became kinder to myself and I became more brave. I wanted to create a space where other people would be able to experience that. It’s been really inspiring.
AE: Anything coming up in the future that you want to share with us?
MA: I love a good surprise. Let’s wait and see…
Alton posing with her pups Whiskey and Bourbon at Barre Belle in Los Angeles.
Photo by Kerry Krenzin
#Hashtag Season 2 will be available December 2014 on Onemorelesbian.com/tello. For more information on Barre Belle visit www.labarrebelle.com