After premiering at Sundance, First Girl I Loved has started to make its way around the festival circuit. The film sees 17-year-old Anne (Dylan Gelula) falling in love with fellow high schooler Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand), only to have that relationship complicated by gay panic and the feelings of Anne’s best friend, Clif (Mateo Arias). Most notably, the movie has sparked some controversy by tackling the issue of sexual consent.
Star Dylan Gelula is currently busy with auditions and trying her hand at writing movie scripts, but she took the time to talk to us about First Girl I Loved, the film’s most controversial scene, her newfound queer fan base and more.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
AfterEllen.com: What was it about this script and the character of Anne that made you want to get involved with First Girl I Loved?
Dylan Gelula: That’s the craziest thing. It just happens to be amazing. Like I’m not in any position to choose projects. I auditioned for this, and they chose me.
AE: Well putting that aside, what was it about the script and Anne that you liked so much?
DG: I very rarely get to read female characters that are three-dimensional, flawed, but rational people. So I was incredibly lucky there. I didn’t think I was going to get it because it’s like the lead in a movie. So I just was excited to talk to the guy who wrote this. Because I was like, “Oh, this person’s brilliant and interesting. I’d love to get coffee with them.” That coffee turned into an audition, which turned into another audition, another audition, and then I got to be part of it.
AE: I’m sure in a couple of months that modesty will start to fade away, but it’s nice to see it now.
DG: Then I’ll be a monster!
AE: So I’m sure you’re aware of all the love Haley and Gracie got for their roles of Brenna and Greer on Chasing Life. Was there a part of you that was looking for that special kind of fan love for your role in First Girl I Loved?
DG: Oh my gosh! Haley and Gracie. I don’t know. I don’t know that I was looking for any kind of fan love. Her sexuality is just one part of who she is, and I was just excited to play such a complex character.
AE: But now that the film’s out there, have you received that kind of love from that special segment of the population that just loves it when actresses take on queer characters and put their all into it?
DG: Definitely. I mean I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of queer women who this movie has meant a lot to. And that’s been the most moving part of this whole thing, was to talk to them. Women don’t get to see their own experiences in film, ever, let alone queer women. Jesus Christ. So to talk to them and that my performance has meant anything to them has been unbelievable. It has made me cry many times. And they keep like wanting to end the conversation and I keep like just wanting to talk to them.