Where are you based?
West Hollywood, California.
How would you describe yourself in a sentence?
I’m adventurous, energetic, and happy! I love sharing my passions with others, and I’m always looking for ways to leave the world a little better than how I found it.
How did you come to be a Hollywood historian?
My Great Uncle Carl Laemmle started Universal Studios in 1912, and though it’s an amazing thing to say, it’s far from his greatest accomplishment. Uncle Carl (that’s what everyone called him, not just his relatives) also saved more than 300 Jewish families from Europe as Hitler rose to power, by signing affidavits to bring them to the United States, and then setting them up with homes and jobs at Universal.
And he ran a really progressive studio too, hiring women as writers, directors, and editors, and making films about topics that were considered pretty controversial at the time. I started my web series Universally Me because it was important for me to share that history, especially to highlight ways the industry has evolved over the years, and areas where there’s still room to grow.
What film do you most recommend to friends?
Frankenstein (1931). It’s such a fun, classic horror film that still holds up. I love that it has an introduction warning the audience how scary the movie is going to be (it really terrified them!) and that it was written by a woman and directed by an openly gay man.
There are so many ways to analyze and interpret the film: it may be symbolic of the gay experience, the immigrant experience, or the experience of anyone who has been “othered” by society, and it also asks what limitations, if any, we should place on science, and what responsibilities creators have to their creations. I could talk about this movie forever.
What cultural impact(s) do you see in film and storytelling?
Film can change the world. In our everyday lives, we can get stuck in our bubbles, and movies help us experience worlds and people we might otherwise never see. When we empathize with characters on screen, it can challenge ideas we hold, and open our mind in ways we don’t expect.
What does pride mean to you? What are your favorite ways to celebrate pride this month and beyond?
Pride is loving every part of yourself. It’s easy to love the best parts of yourself, or to choose what to bring to the table depending on how you think it’ll be perceived, but when you learn to accept and value all sides of yourself, then you know true pride.
I’m lucky that I had a lot of really supportive friends and family around me when I came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community, but I knew not everyone was going to respond so positively. Because I was so confident and proud, it allowed me to show up as myself and come out to everyone anyway. If somebody has a problem with me being LGBTQ+, that’s their problem, and it doesn’t make me hesitate to be my authentic self.
Pride month is a little extra special, but I feel like I celebrate Pride year round. I have such a strong community around me, and we’re constantly finding ways to spend time together and uplift each other. I seek out LGBTQ+ owned businesses, play in LGBTQ+ sports leagues, and support LGBTQ+ artists whenever I can. If I see injustices around me, I always make an effort to speak up. Of course I think parades and parties are fun to celebrate this side of myself, but Pride in myself and the community goes far beyond that.
Are there any new narratives or representation you’d like to see change in Hollywood?
I’m happy for any and all LGBTQ+ representation on screen, but I would give anything to see LGBTQ+ characters in leading roles where the entire premise isn’t about coming out. Coming out is just the beginning of our journey and it does a disservice to the community to act like the story ends there.
What is one of your go-to nature escapes?
Every year there’s a meteor shower that peaks around my birthday. I love finding new places to watch - whether camping in the mountains, or out in the desert away from all the city lights. It’s such a beautiful way to start a new year, and I love making a wish on each shooting star.
What’s your go-to brief style?
When skinny jeans were all the rage, I had no choice but to wear a thong, but now that pants are loosening up, I’ve really been enjoying the bikini cut again!<