Through the new LGBTQIA+ romantic comedy series “Lulu,” lead actor Rita Martinez hopes to break misconceptions about lesbian relationships, and present a more realistic picture of what it’s like to be in one.
Rhen Escaño (left) and Martinez
“It’s about the authenticity of the story … Because of what has been shown in the past, there are misconceptions and stereotypes that girl to girl romance is just sexual, or about serious issue. It’s not. And I hope this show can change how people understand what girl love is,” she told the Inquirer in a virtual story conference for the Vivamax show.
Directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, the eight-episode, girls love (GL) show is about two women at a life and career crossroads: the bubbly, outspoken Sophie (Rhen Escaño) who deactivates all her social media pages in hopes of disconnecting herself from the world, after a failed five-year relationship;
Abi (Martinez), on the other hand, is a “soft butch lesbian” who works as a sous-chef in a top restaurant and moonlights as an indie band guitarist.
Room for spontaneity
While successful, her life has always followed a plan with not a lot of room for spontaneity. This time, she hopes to take risks and go where the waves take her.
The two women—both longing for a place to belong and a purpose to fulfill—cross paths in a rented beach house, and sparks instantly fly. But as they fall for each other, old issues resurface and secrets get revealed.
“I was honored when Viva Entertainment and Direk Sigrid gave me the role. This is my first ever show. When I read the script, it’s as if the character Abi was written for me,” related Rita, who’s also a musician in real life, and a semifinalist in the second season of the “The Voice PH.” “I can’t thank everyone enough for this opportunity.”
“The whole story is amazing. It’s not just about sexual fantasies, which is usually how girl to girl love is portrayed. It’s about life and the things we—and everyone else—go through. It’s challenging not only because of my character, but Abi and I represent the LGBTQIA+ community,” Rita said.
Aside from a television commercial and a one-off bit role in a drama anthology more than 10 years ago, Rita doesn’t really have acting experience.
“I went on a diet and worked out. And I tried to recall everything that happened to me,” she added.
And while the show’s general tone is light and fun, it also touches on more serious topics. “Of course, there’s discrimination. I feel like we have to prove ourselves 10 times more just to be accepted and earn respect. In my life, I have been told that nothing will happen to my life and no one will take me seriously because of who I am,” she said. “That was painful.”
And who better portray Abi than an actual lesbian actor?
Sigrid, who has always dreamed of putting together an LGBTQIA+ love team, saw to it that her cast and crew included people from the community. “There are a lot of talented actors in the community, so why not give them a chance? This is a GL series so why not cast a real lesbian who can act?” she said.
“I’m not saying straight actors can’t pull off the role. But they already have more opportunities. I want to create opportunities for actors in the community, so they’re not relegated only to background and supporting roles,” she said.