Stars Turn up on Point
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009, 04:14PM
A few months ago, I volunteered to shoot a public service announcement (PSA) for the Point Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships to LGBT students. Actors from the top lesbian film and TV shows volunteered their time for the cause, as did popular AfterEllen writer and vlogger, Dara Nai who volunteered to write the piece and help produce. These fine ladies were joined on set by three lucky Point scholars who were flown to Los Angeles from across the United States to costar in the PSA. Showtime Network graciously volunteered to premier the PSA on the season five DVD of The L Word.
“I come from a conservative Christian town in rural Wisconsin,” Point Scholar Brittany Bjurstrom (from Wellesley College) told me, “Which is a great place to grow up, but a bad place to be different.” Bjurstrom is the poster child for the smart over-achiever. “I was president of everything, a good kid. Then I came out as lesbian,” her smile fades, “Students defaced my car, called me dyke. It was a very isolating experience.”
Point Scholar Keara Watkins (from Spelman College) had the same experience in Virginia. “Kids called me lesbian at high school, which I don’t think is a bad thing, unless whispered,” she said. Her home experience was even worse than at school, but Watkins still managed to graduate with a 4.2 GPA.
Even with great grades and impressive school involvement, college was not an option financially for these two young lesbians because of the fissures created within their families when they came out. But then they found the Point Foundation, which granted them full college scholarships and appointed them a mentor in their chosen field of study.
And now they were going to meet some of their favorite lesbian celebrities. The first actors on the set were Rose Rollins and Clementine Ford from The L Word. Both sat down and starting chatting with the two scholars, who were still in makeup and hair. I noticed our bright young scholars suddenly got reticent—they were star struck! But in no time, everyone was chatting like it was a lesbian sewing circle. “My favorite part of the morning was hearing Rose Rollins speak of her adoration for the pink starburst,” said Watkins, “And talking to Clementine Ford, who was totally empathetic about my shyness.”
Later, Ford asked me, “These kids were kicked out of their homes?” I nodded and said, “Yup.”
“But why? They’re so sweet!”
I said, “Yes well, some people don’t like their kids being gay.”
Ford has since sent a letter to the Point Foundation offering to volunteer in any way possible to help out. “I can even lick envelopes if they need it!”
The next stars to arrive on the set were writer-director Katherine Brooks and Erin Kelly from Loving Annabelle—the touchstone of coming-out-at-Catholic-high-school films. Socially conscious, they always say, “yes” to anything that gives back to our community. And they’re also two complete crack-ups.
The next stars to arrive were Maeve Quinlan and Gabrielle Christian from the show South Of Nowhere, which is on the Nogen Network and is sadly in its last year. The Point scholars sat and dished with them while they were in makeup. “I thought it would be so intimidating,” Watkins noted, “But it was surprisingly relaxed and casual.”
About midday, a whirling dervish flew onto the set in the form of Thea Gill from Queer as Folk. She managed to squeeze the PSA in between an audition and a photo shoot. Gill had us in stitches as she read her lines, each time with a different style, from Merryl Streep-ish to Courtney Love-ish.
While Gill was on set, Jackie Warner and Rebecca Cordan from Work Out showed up. The first words out of Jackie’s mouth were, “I don’t memorize. I need cue cards.” Cordan turned to her and teased with a smile, “You didn’t memorize your lines?” Warner said, “No, what am I? An actress? Did you memorize yours?” Cordan smiled, “Yes.” These two also have a wonderful rapport and you can tell they’re good friends by the way they tease each other. “Do you want us to make out?” Warner joked at one point as the cameras were rolling. For some reason, I thought Warner would be more of a diva, but she was down-to-earth and fun to work with.
At the end of a long day of shooting, Bjurstrom told me, “I don’t know how the crew kept everything running so smoothly with such a chaotic mass of crazy lesbians—and those who play us on TV—but I arrived in the morning, ready for exhaustion, and before I knew it I’d just spent some of the most hilarious and productive hours of my life having fun.”
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