Jennifer Beals on fighting for diverse stories
Whilst onscreen representation isn’t the only thing we have to fight for, it’s incredibly important. The world us has changed a lot in just my 25 years and one of the ways this is most easily visible is with the increase of diversity within mainstream films, TV shows and books. As a kid I could name two characters who looked like me, who I did not find remotely relatable. Now I have many more to choose from. This is due to many factors, one of those being show runners and actors creating and taking on roles with intention.
In an interview published today on The Guardian, Jennifer Beals looked back on her career, her life of activism and her hope for the future. Like myself, and many others, Jennifer shared that, “When I was a young girl, I didn’t see myself represented.” When talking about roles, she referenced King Arthur: “This is mine. I’m coming to claim it. That’s all I’m asking. Let me put my hand on the hilt and I will show you this sword is mine.”
Throughout her career Jennifer has taken her politics and fostering diverse stories very seriously. The L Word star recently joined the Star Wards franchise in The Mandalorian spin-off The Book Of Boba Fett. In the interview she addressed the importance of inclusion within this genre. “I look to tell underrepresented stories, and sci-fi is such a wonderful way to explore those ideas – to explore those on the outside, redefining their power, finding their path and perhaps even lighting a way for others.”
Jennifer also addressed the reboot of The L Word and how it tried to tell stories that would resonate with a younger audience. “It’s so fascinating – an entire generation said: ‘Your words are not commensurate with our experience. Therefore, we will change the word.’ Whereas, in the past, people would have just tried to squeeze themselves into those words.” Jennifer reflected that in her generation: “You were this or you were this or you were that, and there was nothing in between … This generation blew that to smithereens and it’s really exciting.” She went on to say that: “I really think they’re the hope for the planet.”
She also shared that through The L Word the actor “came into contact with so many extraordinary activists who were thinking politically. That started to shift my perception, and I understood how important it was to become involved, to move the needle a bit.” Outside of her acting career, Jennifer has gotten involved with a range of charities and campaigns which demand change.
Moving the needle forward is never a walk in the park. But when Jennifer shared that she’s received letters from klansmen it “just made me determined to work even more.”
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