This week I talked with filmmaker Nicole Conn about her new film project She Walks in Beauty, based on her bestselling 2001 novel. The story is about two women on two continents across two eras, addressing love, lust and betrayal. Conn has teamed up with executive producer Elaine Sturgess to launch a search for a new movie star to be featured in the film. Sturgess' brainchild, the iConn Casting Quest offers the chance for anyone, whether or not they have any acting experience, to apply for the opportunity to attend a casting session for the new movie. Conn explained:
We are literally opening the casting process up to anyone worldwide who believes they have the talent to make it on the big screen. It doesn't matter even if they have no acting experience at all; we'll consider anyone as long as they can tell us a bit about who they are and why they think they have what it takes to feature in She Walks in Beauty.
I talked with Conn about her ambitious global talent search and LGBT issues. When asked about her personal commitment to LGBT equality, she stated:
The LGBT equality issue, for me, is sort of a double-edged sword. From a civil rights issue, we should have all the rights that anybody has; we're humans, and it's a human rights issue. One of my feelings is that the more equally we become, the more invisible we've become on some levels, because our community is primarily connected by only one thing, the fact that we love the same sex, but we don't pull the same traditions, social backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, any of those things. So there's the one piece that binds us together, and so I sometimes worry about when we are mainstreamed, we lose ourselves, as we have seen has happened in the past 20 years. There were bookstores, newspapers, there were magazines, coffee houses that were all dedicated to our community, so you knew where to find our community. Now, in the time of the Internet, I think it's very difficult to find our community, and so from that standpoint it's sort of a bittersweet passage. However, I believe the time has come to merge LGBT with the rest of the universe, especially in terms of our storytelling, our books, all of our films. You know, we want our own library, yet our library speaks to everybody. Our stories are human stories -- they transcend LGBT -- and so it's a very dicey question, because ... once mainstreamed, we sort of disappear.
Since Nicole Conn released her landmark lesbian-themed movie Claire of the Moon in 1992, her films have included Cynara, Elena Undone and last year's A Perfect Ending, now the bestselling lesbian movie of all time. The first iConn Casting Quest live event will take place in January 2014 in Brighton, UK, where applicants will have the opportunity to read opposite well-known actresses, including the lead from A Perfect Ending, Barbara Niven. Further events will follow in the U.S. Currently Nicole is directing Jen Foster's new music video "She," which addresses marriage equality.
For more information on She Walks in Beauty, and to enter the contest, visit shewalksinbeautymovie.com.
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