If the 2005 Power Up Power Premiere is any indication, we will no doubt be enjoying The L Word for several more seasons. Whether it was the constant buzz of people surrounding anyone and everyone connected to the show, or the glowing standing ovation received by Ilene Chaiken for her Artistry Award, it was clear that the first ever lesbian drama, still carries with it all the enthusiasm, and strong support from within the entertainment industry, that it received when it premiered two seasons ago.
However, my efforts to get close enough to introduce myself to the woman who Power Up has described as, “The woman who has changed the face of television,”were thwarted at every turn. Just when I thought my moment had arrived, others would surround the petite powerhouse, engaging her in conversation. But, for as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t get upset, because I knew that, like me, they just wanted to share some time with the creator, and writer of one of Showtime’s most popular original series. A woman who has without a doubt been the catalyst for changes in so many women’s lives. If it wasn’t for her tenacity, perseverance, as well as truck loads of talent, this site wouldn’t exist...so many new relationships might not exist...and who knows how long we would have had to wait to have the conversations which are now taking place all around the world? All this, and more has happened, because one woman, was so frustrated by the lack of lesbian representation on televison, she decided do something about it. Sarah Shahi spoke of Ilene Chaiken as an “An innovator, pioneer, and friend.” And, although I can’t claim to be her friend, I can totally and completely agree with those first two very descriptive words. In just two short years, Ilene Chaiken truly has changed the face of television.
Now, even though I wasn’t able to talk with Ilene, it was a party, and a very crowded one at that. So, I set my sights on Amy Ziff, of Betty. I was able to catch her just as she took a bite of her hors d’oeuvre (sorry Amy), expressing my appreciation for her performance on the ship in Land Ahoy, as well as my gratitude at finally being able to see someone who is closer to my own size, enjoying some extra curricular activities. Amy thanked me, and both she and Elizabeth also expressed their appreciation for that scene, saying they have heard from a lot of women who felt the same way.
Elizabeth spoke with passion about season three of The L Word, saying it was going to be the best so far, and that Ilene was really taking it to the edge. They loved the idea of having a fan site, such as L-word.com, saying how great it was that women from all over the world were connecting, and forging new relationships. If fact, they were very open to talking with us in a more formal setting for an interview, and were genuinely excited to be involved with fans of the show, as well as their music. They were also excited for every one attending the convention this weekend London, and expressed interest in attending a future convention.
Our conversation topics ranged from their concern about the current administration, and its strong push to the right, to Amy expressing how much they enjoyed filming with their personal friend, Gloria Steinem, as well as Elizabeth’s wish that more individual lesbians would support the show and order Showtime.
After talking with both these women, I found them to be open and appreciative, passionate as well as funny. They are both very positive women, whose excitement and passion for what they do clearly shows up in how they express themselves. They have contributed so much to the women’s community for so many years, and I for one, was honored to have been able to talk with them.
At the end of our conversation, Amy asked if we had been able to talk to Daniela Sea, the newest member of The L Word cast. After answering in the negative, she walked over to her, took her by the arm, and led her back to us! And, as they walked away, Elizabeth pointed to Daniela and said, “talk to her...she is the real deal.”
So, with that introduction, I turned to Daniela Sea, and felt myself becoming absolutely mesmerized by her gorgeous translucent blue eyes! All I can say is...WOW!! We were able to spend about five minutes with this young woman, who was wearing an outfit that could have been worn by the hero of a English Victorian novel, or an early twentieth century bi-plane pilot. And, after talking with her, I could see where her outfit matched her personality perfectly...unique, stylish, and she has an energy about her that instills comfort in the person she is sharing the conversation with. She was also sweet, and very gracious... clearly happy to be participating in the Power Up event. She has a very peaceful, and laid back demeanor, but was in no way disconnected. On the contrary, she was present in the conversation, and stayed focused on both of us as we spoke. It was interesting, because even though in almost all pictures, she doesn’t smile...when she is talking with you, her face becomes very soft, and she smiles easily and often.
Daniela had not heard of fan fiction before, but was genuinely excited when we explained what it was, loving the idea of so many women sharing their creativity, and creating new communities. She told us that she was working as a waitress in New York when she received a call to audition for a part in The L Word. After being hired, she was on the set, and filming within four days. What was her first scene you ask? A sex scene, of course! She was quick to point out that the atmosphere was very supportive, and everyone made her feel comfortable and safe. In fact, when asked how it felt coming into a show with an established cast, Daniela smiled and commented on how wonderful everyone had been, and that because of so many women being on the set, how open it was. One of the things that impressed me, was her interest in learning about all aspects of filming. She expressed that the acting is just one of many parts that make up the whole process, and how grateful she is to have the opportunity to increase her knowledge in other areas as well.
While growing up, Daniela and her family lived outside the United States, for about six or seven years. They spent time in several different European countries, including Poland and England. In fact, at the moment, her brother is training in England to be a stone mason. Right now he is working on gargoyles at Windsor Castle. Her eyes sparkled as she talked about him, clearly very proud. She also shared with us, that her girlfriend Bitch, of the band with the same name, also has family in England. As we talked, it was clear that our friends across the pond are close to her heart.
Talking with Daniela Sea was for me, totally worth the whole trip, and, I know that when I am watching season three, I will be wearing a smile every time I see this enchanting young woman on the screen.
Just as we were finishing up with Daniela, she saw Sarah Shahi, and called her over. Sarah was obviously in the middle of a conversation, but ducked away long enough to come over and give Daniela a hug, the warmth shared by these two women clearly in evidence. We were able to take a couple of pictures of the two of them, and I was able to ask Sarah one quick question, before she bid us a hasty good-bye, and went back to her previous conversation. The one question I was able to ask, was if she had heard of L-word.com. Her face lit up, and she smiled at me, saying, “oh yeah...of course we have!” On a personal note, may I just say that when Sarah Shahi looks directly at you, and smiles...well, let’s just say that it took a minute for my brain cells to start firing again...hence the lack of another question!!
At the end of the night, even though I was disappointed that the rest of the cast were unable to make it to the event, due to conflicting schedules, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to connect with these beautiful, and articulate “Women of the L.” And, because of their enthusiasm, I went back to my hotel room doubly excited about what’s going to happen in season three of my favorite TV show!!
(I will have transcriptions of both Ilene’s introduction for her Artisry Award, by Sarah Shahi, Daniela Sea, Alexandra Hedison, and Margaret Cho...but unfortunately, it will be a very laborious process...one which I won’t have time to complete until after the convention here in London.)