Sex and Ethnicity

Sex & Ethnicity is a new webseries premiering in 2014: A Montreal ethnic girl’s answer to all those damn shows about what girls are “really” like.

Anna tries to juggle her boisterous Italian family, her life outside of theatre school, her new job at a zany theatre company and her relationship with a non-ethnic commitment-phobe with the help of her best friends: Margi, Sun & Jenny.

Starring: Michaela Di Cesare, Sehar Bhojani, Stefanie Nakamura, Liana Montoro, Tamara Brown, Ellen David, Guido Grasso, Patricia Summersett, Chimwemwe Miller, Annie Yao, Russel Yuen, Carolyn Fe Trinidad, Jane Gilchrist, Gitanjali Jain, Natalie Tannous, Howard Rosenstein, Mike Payette,  Adam Alberts, Sebastien Heins, Matt Lacas, Anne-Marie Saheb, Emilee Veluz, Elizabeth Neale, Patrizio Sanzari, Linda Tomassone, Grace Gordon, Aldo Lopez, Ezra Fama de Smit,  Oliver Koomsatira, Scott Humphrey & more!

When Lena Dunham gives interviews about why she created the hit HBO show Girls she often says the show was her response to Sex & the City. Her mandate was to reveal was girls are really like, that she and her 20-something friends don’t have their lives figured out like the women on that other show and that they don’t always look perfect and wear Manolo Blahniks. While the work she has done to deconstruct the mainstream media’s definition of beauty is commendable (however much I feel she may be beating us on the head with it at this point), Lena’s core cast of Girls couldn’t be more homogeneous. Four white girls from upper middle class families who attended prestigious American colleges and now find themselves completely lost in a world where they actually have to work (life is so, like, hard right now). Lena has defended herself by saying that she writes what she knows and this is who her friends really are in real life. Of course, not to be exclusionary, she throws in a fling with a black coworker (played by Donald Glover) in season 2. That relationship is so problematic I don’t even have the room to get into it here.

So, anyway, I’m watching Girls and I’m thinking: this does not reflect my experience of life or that of my friends. Those of us coming out of specific cultural communities bring a lot more baggage to sex and relationships that these girls simply don’t have to deal with. For some of us, the threat of transgressing what is expected of us is very real and puts a lot of pressure on our sexual development and the decisions we make in life. Also, navigating our society (especially right now in Quebec) as a woman who is not perceived as the majority, who constantly gets spoken to in broken French or English, who is repeatedly asked where she’s from, who is time and again made exotic/erotic under the male gaze—is NOT an experience we get to witness on mainstream television. Furthermore, my actor friends and I were joking about the ubiquitous casting call that specifies: Fit, attractive, ethnic female, 25. We get called in for those ALL THE TIME. You arrive at the casting session and every possible ethnicity in the city is represented (provided she’s young and fit—whatever fit means). Obviously, this producer requires one (and only one) “exotic-looking” female to complement whoever the lead is, or to check that requirement off the political-correctness checklist. It became important to me to create a project where all of us in that room could book a substantial role instead of just one of us. So, for all these reasons, I wrote Sex & Ethnicity. The show features the families of four young women who are: Italian-Canadian, Korean-Canadian, Pakistani-Canadian and a blended Jamaican-Québécois family. There are currently 8 10-minute episodes in season 1 that I will broadcast for free on Youtube. My hope is that a producer or network will realize how important the show’s message is and give us some funding for season 2 because it’s pretty much written already.

I have a stellar cast and crew behind me. I still can’t believe how many well-respected Montreal heavyweights have agreed to do this show. “No pressure,” she says, sweating buckets. We start shooting tomorrow. You can follow the show on Facebook. We hope to premiere the first episode by June 1st. Please like, follow, share.

Sex & Ethnicity