Q+A Najarra Townsend


Photo: Keith Munyan

Najarra Townsend isn’t your typical Hollywood teenager. You won’t see her in the tabloids next to Paris Hilton or the Olsen twins. She’s just a talented young actor making a name for herself by performing in indie films like Me and You and Everyone We Know. This year she stars in Tru Loved, Stewart Wade’s latest romantic comedy about a straight girl with gay moms, gay dads and a fake gay boyfriend; she’s already received two film festival Best Actress awards for her role. Featuring some of the great gay Hollywood icons (like Jane Lynch), as well as an array of new faces, Tru Loved will have you laughing, crying and waving your rainbow flag all at the same time. Understandably, Townsend’s really excited to talk about it.

What drew you to the role of Tru in Tru Loved?
When I originally read the script, I just fell madly in love with it. It was like, my ideal script. Tru was such a great character to get to play—she’s a 16-year-old girl, but she’s a really strong individual. She knows who she is and she knows what she wants to fight for. And that was just so exciting to get to play.

What was the inspiration for this film?
I’ve heard Stewart Wade talk about this before. I believe it came about because of his partner, Antonio [Brown], who is the producer of the film. They are gay parents together and they wanted to make a film that focused on gay parents. There aren’t many films like that.

You seemed really comfortable playing the part of an LGBT activist and a gay ally. Do you have any personal experience with that in your life?
Well, I have so many gay and lesbian friends and I was raised in theater. I have always been really into gay and lesbian rights, so it was an exciting script to get to make into a film, and it was something I believed could really make a difference. So that was exciting. And I’ve always wanted to be an activist.

In a lot of ways, this is a good introduction to the gay film genre—who was the target audience, and how has it been received?
I’ve seen it with so many different audiences now. It’s really a film for everyone. It has something for every age, but I think that originally it was probably targeted at high-schoolers, to get the word out there that you can be open about who you are…We always get different responses based on who the audience is. I haven’t gotten a bad response yet, so that’s really exciting.

The comic Jane Lynch makes a cameo appearance in the movie. Why do we get so little of her?
I never asked why; I was just so excited to get to work with her. I’m guessing it’s because she signed on after everyone was cast, so they created a role for her and put her in. I was just ecstatic to work with her. It was funny because I know she’s been in so many great films, but I was mostly excited because she’s on The L Word and that’s like, my favorite TV show! And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m working with someone who is on The L Word!” I just wanted to be next to her all the time. I mean, hello, it’s Jane Lynch! I totally love her.

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