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Fringe Festival rich with LGBT themes

A male pop star, Galactica and more on this year’s slate

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Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade
Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

Bryce Sulecki in ‘Bryce: Hydrogen Blonde.’ (Photo courtesy Marc Langston)

Growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Bryce Sulecki admired the likes of Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Madonna. While their support of the gay community comforted him, he couldn’t help but feel that there was an absence.

“There was this voice missing,” says Sulecki, who graduated from American University’s prestigious musical theater program in 2015. “From a gay male pop star.”

Sulecki longed to hear a performer directly singing about gay relationships, struggles and even everyday life with the same type of choreography, costumes and theatrics that had inspired him as a child.

Sulecki decided to take matters into his own hands and create the gay pop star he’d been searching for, but he needed an outlet, which he found in the D.C. Capital Fringe Festival.

The Capital Fringe Festival, which just opened and runs through July 31, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Julianne Brienza and Damien Sinclair. Capital Fringe focuses on bolstering opportunities for audiences to view independent, off-the-beaten-path theater, music, dance and other forms of performance and visual art.

Fringe festivals began in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. The festival has since expanded its presence all over the world to countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Capital Fringe has become the second largest Fringe Festival in the United States. As of 2015, it had generated $1.7 million for artists, featured more than 600 new productions and generated 886 paid jobs. Roughly 130 shows are featured in the Capital Fringe festival each year.

A spot in Fringe is determined on a first-come, first-served basis by submitting proposals for shows online. Capital Fringe provides the venue for accepted plays and handles the main marketing to promote the shows. The playwright is in charge of all other fees, including costumes, payment to cast, crew and the director and any other costs.

The festival prides itself on its focus of the performing arts community as a whole, rather than just promoting the work of an individual.

With this mission, it’s no wonder that in its 11th year Capital Fringe 2016 will feature a diverse range of LGBT productions, including Sulecki’s interactive-pop-concert- extravaganza, “Bryce: Hydrogen Blonde,” in which he is the producer, co-writer and star.

“I think that [the] most meaningful part of the experience is seeing my own work in front of an audience,” Sulecki says. “I keep getting chills just thinking about it.”

Themes this year touch on a variety of LGBT issues.

Kevin West, an out playwright and director of “The DOMA Diaries,” wants to reveal the struggles and obstacles that the Defense of Marriage Act created in the lives of LGBT couples. While the play is a work of fiction, it is based on real-life experiences.

The play also includes a fictional adaptation of West’s own struggle being part of a bi-national couple. West constantly feared that his then-partner (now husband) would be forced to return to his country of origin, as West could not sponsor him for a green card under DOMA’s restrictions.

“There’s a funny scene in which a gay couple goes to a Mailboxes Etcetera to have their domestic partnership documents notarized, and they treat the event like a mini-wedding,” West says. “Since gay marriage isn’t yet legal, and may never be, they realize that this mundane event is the closest they will ever come to a wedding ceremony.”

One of the stars of the play, Nell Quinn-Gibney, a 20-year-old senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who was raised by a lesbian couple and was present outside the Supreme Court when the DOMA decision was announced, says she never fully understood the impact of the act until she began working on the show.

“Reading the script for me the first time I got [it], I honestly started crying half-way through because the whole time I was thinking about what my relationship and what my sister’s relationship growing up with our parents was like and how grateful I was to them,” says Quinn-Gibney, a Bethesda, Md., native. “It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that there was anything different, abnormal or unusual about our family.”

Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

The cast of ‘DOMA Diaries’ featuring Nell Quinn-Gibney, third from left. (Photo courtesy Kevin West)

Other shows to look out for at Capital Fringe include seasoned performer Jeffrey Johnson’s multimedia-drag-production, “A Romp Around Uranus with Special Agent Galactica.”

Johnson, who was the artistic director of the now-defunct, LGBT theater company Ganymede Arts in Washington, is the creator, writer, director and lead performer in the play. Galactica, a lip sync character, was born out of his work with Ganymede.

She became a success and generated a large local following. Johnson has performed as Galactica at almost every gay bar in town.

“A Romp” also features three original songs written by Johnson. Galactica’s spaceship is played by award-winning musician and B-52’s frontman, Fred Schneider.

“This is taking drag performance to a totally different place,” Johnson says. “It’s taking on drag done live, it has clever humor, but, you know, low-brow comedy as well.”

Johnson emphasizes that his production is not a drag show, but a theater piece that uses the elements of drag to enhance the show.

In 2010, Johnson took Galactica from a lip-sync character to a live music songstress and how he says he’s ready for the next chapter in her short, yet eventful life.

“Now, I’m taking her from being just a live cabaret or music show to actually being a theater piece,” Johnson says. “It’s always fun to challenge myself and rethink the presentation of this character and take her into new areas that she hasn’t gone before.”

Another pioneering piece comes from writer, director and professional home and office organizer, Brett Steven Abelman.

Abelman’s play, which he created and directs, is “Play Cupid,” his fourth production at Capital Fringe. The play features five characters that the audience can send on a date. There are two men, two women and one character that identifies as gender-queer.

“Anyone can be paired up with anyone,” says Abelman, a Washington-area native. He likes the component of audience choice in theater, which he says is not common.

Abelman hopes his show can “open little corners” within his audience’s mind by having them go through the process of meeting the characters, getting to know them and pairing them up.

The audience, director and actors will not know, on any given night, who will get sent on a date and who will not. So, as Abelman says, flexibility for everyone involved in “Play Cupid” is important.

“I am thrilled that I found these five collaborators, plus my assistant director and producer,” Abelman says. “The No. 1 thing is getting along with each other and we share stories about dating and romance and all that kind of stuff to help build the show.”

Niusha Nawab, one of the male actors in “Play Cupid,” who graduated from American University in 2015 with a degree in theater arts and audio production, describes the play as “modern” in terms of its LGBT content.

“On the one hand, it’s somewhat of an idealistic alternative reality where the sexuality of all the characters is mostly irrelevant to their lives within the play and isn’t a defining factor of who they are,” Nawab says. “On the other hand, when it does recognize and deal with their sexuality, it does so in specific and useful ways, like the fact that one character is pansexual, not bi, or that the only black character (in the show) has to deal with the intersectionality of being both black and queer in his love life.”

Nawab also emphasizes how gender-queerness plays a role in “Play Cupid.” He says it unfurls in “differing but challenging ways.”

“Our play is a high-scorer on the not-straight-white-cis-dude scale,” Nawab says.

Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

The cast of ‘Play Cupid’ in rehearsal. (Photo by Sonia Zamborsky)

Another LGBT-themed Fringe show is “HUNT: a Political Drama,” written and produced by Jean P. Bordewich and directed by Kristin Shoffner. The play is based on the true story of Sen. Lester Hunt, a Wyoming Democrat, who was blackmailed by Sen. Joe McCarthy’s allies in the Senate over homosexual allegations against his son.
Bordewich, who has spent her life in politics on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House staff member and in Red Hook, N.Y., as a town council member, and as a candidate for Congress and Senate district staffer, says she wanted to explore the dangers of political extremism, demagoguery and homophobia through the lens of the 1950s Cold War era.
“I had no idea when I wrote ‘HUNT,’” she says, “that the rise of a demagogue as a presidential candidate and the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando would make this history so tragically relevant today.”

Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry Loveman as Sen. Hunt in ‘HUNT: a Political Drama.’ (Photo courtesy Jean P. Bordewich)

 

Full details at capitalfringe.org

‘Bryce: Hydrogen Blonde’
Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre (1358 Florida Ave., N.E.)
Friday, July 8 at 10:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 14 at 7:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 17 at 4:15 p.m.
Friday, July 22 at 9 p.m.
Sunday July 24 at 12:30 p.m.
Tickets are $17

‘The DOMA Diaries’
Flashpoint: Mead Theatre Lab (916 G St., N.W.)
Thursday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 15 at 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 at 12:45 p.m.
Tickets are $17

‘A Romp Around Uranus with Special Agent Galactica’
Logan Fringe Arts Space: Upstairs (1358 Florida Ave., N.E.)

Saturday, July 9 at 10 p.m.
Wednesday, July 13 at 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 17 at 10 p.m.
Tuesday, July 19 at 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 24 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $17

‘Play Cupid’
Atlas Performing Arts Center: Lab II (1333 H St., N.E.)
Friday, July 8 at 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 10 at 7 p.m.
Friday, July 15 at 10:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $17

‘HUNT: A Political Drama’
Flashpoint: Mead Theatre Lab (916 G St., N.W.)
Thursday, July 7 at 8:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 13 at 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 19 at 8:45 p.m.
Friday, July 22 at 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 24 at 2:15 p.m.
Tickets are $17

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Netflix resurrects Dahmer, triggering criticism

Milwaukee gay activist says series re-traumatizes victims’ families

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Jeffrey Dahmer was killed in prison in 1994.

A 10-episode series on gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer released by Netflix on Sept. 21 captures in chilling detail Dahmer’s 13-year murder spree that took place mostly in Milwaukee between 1978 and 1991 in which 17 young mostly gay men, 11 of whom were Black, lost their lives.

The dramatized series, with actor Evan Peters playing the lead role of Dahmer, shows how Dahmer met many of his victims in Milwaukee gay bars, lured them to his apartment by promising to pay them to pose for nude photographs, and drugged and strangled them to death before mutilating and sometimes cannibalizing their bodies.

The series, called “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” has set a record for being the most watched first week release of any Netflix streaming series, according to media reports.

But one viewer who said he stopped watching the series after the first two episodes is longtime Milwaukee gay activist Scott Gunkel, who worked as a bartender at one of the gay bars where Dahmer met at least two of the young men he murdered.

Gunkel, 62, told the Blade he and others of his generation who lived through the trauma of the Dahmer murder spree view the Netflix series as yet another movie rehashing a troubling and painful occurrence.

“It really won’t, I don’t think, aid anybody,” he said. “I don’t think the victims’ families and friends will want to watch and hear this. So, this is just re-victimizing the people that went through this personally.”

Added Gunkel, “I knew a couple of the people he killed – patrons of the bar. They weren’t close friends. I just happened to know that they came to my bar, and I served them drinks.”

“There has been a big effort to have people boycott Netflix over this,” Gunkel said. “And I’m like, OK, it is a macabre story. I don’t know if you need to go quite that far with a boycott. Just don’t watch it,” he said.

Netflix has said the series is respectful to the victims and their families and its aim is to tell the story of how and why Dahmer became one of America’s most notorious serial murderers “as authentically as we could,” according to a statement by Peters in a promotional video posted on Twitter.

Gunkel and others familiar with the Dahmer case point out that few if anyone in Milwaukee or elsewhere knew a serial killer was on the loose in their community until the time of Dahmer’s arrest on July 22, 1991, after his 18th potential victim escaped and contacted police.

Police and prosecutors at that time revealed the discovery of body parts and other evidence found in Dahmer’s apartment, including multiple photos that Dahmer had taken of the corpses and body parts of his victims. Dahmer a short time later confessed to having committed 17 murders, the first in Ohio and the others in Wisconsin, with most taking place in Milwaukee where he lived. He provided prosecutors with the full gruesome details of how he carried out those murders.

Media reports show Dahmer pleaded guilty to 15 of the 17 murders on grounds of insanity, which resulted in a two-week trial to determine whether he was legally sane when he committed the murders. In February 1992, the jury found him sane in each of the murders. A judge then sentenced him to 15 consecutive sentences to life in prison.

Two years later, at the age of 34, Dahmer was beaten to death at Wisconsin’s Columbia Correctional Institution by an inmate who told authorities that God told him to kill Dahmer. 

Gunkel said some in the Milwaukee gay community and the African-American community reached out to each other when the list of Dahmer’s victims released by police shortly after his arrest showed most were Black gay men.

Gunkel said he remembers the news reports of several Black women who lived near the apartment building in the mostly Black neighborhood saying they tried to alert police to what they suspected was criminal activity by Dahmer.

One of the reports that triggered widespread criticism of how the police allegedly mishandled the Dahmer case involved a Black woman who called police when she saw someone she described as an Asian boy standing outside the apartment building where Dahmer lived naked and bleeding with just a towel wrapped around him.  

It later became known that the person the woman saw was Konerak Sinthasomphone, a 14-year-old Laotian immigrant, who Dahmer met on the street, lured to his apartment, and drugged. Reports show the youth escaped from the apartment after Dahmer left to go to a store to replenish his own supply of liquor.

When Dahmer returned, he saw police talking to Konerak and the woman outside the apartment building and quickly told one of the officers that the youth was 19 years old and was in a gay relationship with him and the two had a lover’s quarrel.

To the amazement of members of the LGBTQ and African-American communities, who later learned of this development, the police allowed Dahmer to take the youth back to his apartment. One of the officers reportedly made a homophobic remark about his interaction with Dahmer and the youth in a recorded comment to a police dispatcher. Dahmer later killed Konerak, police reports show.

Community activists, including Gunkel, who at the time was president of the Milwaukee gay rights group Lambda Rights Network, said the police disregard for the concern raised by the Black woman, who believed Konerak was in danger, was an example of how racial bias on the part of at least some in the Milwaukee police department may have enabled Dahmer to continue his killing spree.

In the weeks following sometimes sensational media reports and statements by police about Dahmer’s role as a confessed gay mass murderer, LGBTQ activists in Milwaukee reported a sharp rise in anti-gay harassment and threats, including harassment targeting gay bar patrons.

“Although gay people were among Dahmer’s victims, biased statements on the part of the police and some media have linked his murderous behavior to all gay and lesbian people,” the then National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a statement.

An August 1991 story in the Washington Blade reports that Gunkel expressed strong concern that a police investigator used the term “homosexual overkill” to describe Dahmer’s action. Gunkel and other activists also pointed to police statements that Dahmer confessed to having engaged in sex with some of his victims and most of the victims were Black. But the police and media reports at the time did not also report that nearly all the victims were also gay.

Rather than being seen as victims, Gunkel said, gays were being portrayed as predators through a “prism” of longtime stereotypes. “We look at this as a hate crime,” said Gunkel in his 1991 comment reported in the Blade. “His patronizing of gay bars shows he was stalking gays. The bars were his feeding grounds.”

Gunkel told the Blade in a phone interview last week, 31 years after Dahmer’s arrest and the revelations of the scope of his murder spree, gay bar patrons at the time the killings were taking place did not equate the disappearance of bar patrons with anything particularly unusual.

He noted that at the time, the AIDS epidemic was still going strong and he and others at the bars sometimes thought a regular customer who suddenly stopped coming to the bar may have gotten sick.

“So, a lot of people stopped going out when they started getting sick,” he said, “And other people would get into relationships and stop going out,” Gunkel told the Blade. “And when they didn’t show up people just kind of blew it off as somebody who’s not around anymore.”

According to Gunkel, the sensational revelations of Dahmer’s killing spree and the fact that he met many of his victims in Milwaukee gay bars prompted many in the LGBTQ community to stop going to bars and gay meeting places. But he said that didn’t last very long.

Gunkel said that like others who lived through what he calls the macabre time that Dahmer’s actions became known, the Netflix series brought back his own memories of interacting with Dahmer at Club 219, the Milwaukee gay bar where he worked as a bartender.

“The few times that I saw him at the bar I refused to serve him because he was drunk,” Gunkel said. “And I thought, you know, I’m not going to serve this person. He’s already pretty smashed.”

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Tagg turns 10

D.C. magazine thriving post-pandemic with focus on queer women

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‘Tagg is a form of resistance,’ says editor Eboné Bell. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a 10-year-old YouTube video, owner and editor of Tagg magazine, Eboné Bell, — clad in a white cotton T-shirt, gray vest and matching gray fedora — smiled with all her pearly whites as a correspondent for the magazine interviewed her outside now-closed Cobalt, a gay club in downtown D.C. that hosted the magazine’s official launch in the fall of 2012. 

“I want to make sure that people know that this is a community publication,” Bell said in the video. “It’s about the women in this community and we wanted to make sure that they knew that ‘This is your magazine.’”

As one of just two queer womxn’s magazines in the country, Tagg has established itself as one of the nation’s leading and forthright LGBTQ publications that focuses on lesbian and queer culture, news, and events. The magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

Among the many beats Tagg covers, it has recently produced work on wide-ranging political issues such as the introduction of the LGBTQ+ History Education Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Supreme Court’s assault on reproductive rights through a reversal of its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling; and also attracted the attention of international queer celebrities, including Emmy-nominated actress Dominique Jackson through fundraisers.

“Tagg is a form of resistance,” Bell said in a Zoom interview with the Washington Blade. “I always say the best form of activism is visibility and we’re out there authentically us.”

Although the magazine was created to focus on lifestyle, pressing political issues that affect LGBTQ individuals pushed it to dive deeper into political coverage in efforts to bring visibility to LGBTQ issues that specifically affect queer femme individuals. 

“We know the majority of our readers are queer women,’ said Bell. “[So] we always ask ourselves, ‘How does this affect our community?’ We are intentional and deliberate about it.”

Rebecca Damante, a contributing writer to the magazine echoed Bell’s sentiments. 

“The movement can sometimes err toward gay white men and it’s good that we get to represent other groups,” said Damante. “I feel really lucky that a magazine like Tagg exists because it’s given me the chance to polish my writing skills and talk about queer representation in media and politics.”

Tagg’s coverage has attracted younger readers who visit the magazine’s website in search of community and belonging. Most readers range between the ages of 25 and 30, Bell said. 

“[The magazine] honestly just took on a life of its own,” said Bell. “It’s like they came to us [and] it makes perfect sense.”

Prior to the magazine becoming subscription-based and completely online, it was a free publication that readers could pick up in coffee shops and distribution boxes around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. 

Battling the pandemic 

Eboné Bell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, newsrooms across the world were forced to function virtually. Additionally, economic strife forced many publications to downsize staffs and — in some cases — cancel entire beats as ad revenue decreased, forcing them to find alternative ways to self-sustain financially. Tagg was no exception. 

“We didn’t fly unscathed,” said Bell. “[The pandemic] took a huge emotional toll on me because I thought we were going to close. I thought we were going to fail.”

However, the magazine was able to stand firm after a fundraiser titled “Save Tagg Magazine” yielded about $30,000 in donations from the community. 

The fundraiser involved a storefront on Tagg’s website where donations of LGBTQ merchandise were sold, including a book donated by soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe. 

There was also a virtual “Queerantine Con” — an event that was the brainchild of Dana Piccoli, editor of News Is Out— where prominent LGBTQ celebrities such as Rosie O’Donnell, Lea DeLaria and Kate Burrell, gave appearances to help raise money that eventually sustained the publication. 

“There was a time where I was ready to be like ‘I have to be OK that [Tagg] might not happen anymore,” said Bell. “But because of love and support, I’m here.” 

While the outpouring of love from community members who donated to the magazine helped keep the magazine alive, it was also a stark reminder that smaller publications, led by women of color, have access to fewer resources than mainstream outlets. 

“It’s statistically known that Black women-owned businesses get significantly less support, venture capital investments, things like that,” said Bell. “I saw similar outlets such as Tagg with white people making $100,000 a month.”

Bell added that Tagg had to work “10 times harder” to survive, and although the magazine didn’t cut back on the people who worked for it, it ended free access to the magazine in the DMV especially as the places that housed the magazine were no longer in business. The publication also moved to a subscription-based model that allowed it to ameliorate printing costs. 

Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, Tagg remains steadfast in its service to the LGBTQ community. The magazine hired an assistant editor in 2021 and has maintained a team of graphic designers, photographers, writers and an ad sales team who work to ensure fresh content is delivered to readers on a regular basis. 

For Bell, Tagg mirrors an important life experience — the moment she discovered Ladders, a lesbian magazine published throughout the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. 

“To that young person coming up, I want you to see all the things that happened before them, all the people that came before them, all the stories that were being told” she said.

Eboné Bell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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Daisy Edgar-Jones knows why ‘the Crawdads sing’

Actress on process, perfecting a southern accent, and her queer following

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Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya Clark. (Photo courtesy Sony/Columbia)

Daisy Edgar-Jones is an actor whose career is blossoming like her namesake. In recent years, she seems to be everywhere. LGBTQ viewers may recognize Edgar-Jones from her role as Delia Rawson in the recently canceled queer HBO series “Gentleman Jack.” She also played memorable parts in a pair of popular Hulu series, “Normal People” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Earlier this year, Edgar-Jones was seen as Noa in the black comedy/horror flick “Fresh” alongside Sebastian Stan. 

With her new movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” (Sony/Columbia), she officially becomes a lead actress. Based on Delia Owens’ popular book club title of the same name, the movie spans a considerable period of time, part murder mystery, part courtroom drama. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for the Blade.

BLADE: Daisy, had you read Delia Owens’s novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” before signing on to play Kya?

DAISY EDGAR-JONES: I read it during my audition process, as I was auditioning for the part. So, the two went hand in hand.

BLADE: What was it about the character of Kya that appealed to you as an actress?

EDGAR-JONES: There was so much about her that appealed to me. I think the fact that she is a very complicated woman. She’s a mixture of things. She’s gentle and she’s curious. She’s strong and she’s resilient. She felt like a real person. I love real character studies and it felt like a character I haven’t had a chance to delve into. It felt different from anyone I’ve played before. Her resilience was one that I really admired. So, I really wanted to spend some time with her.

BLADE: While Kya is in jail, accused of killing the character Chase, she is visited by a cat in her cell. Are you a cat person or do you prefer dogs?

EDGAR-JONES: I like both! I think I like the fact that dogs unconditionally love you. While a cat’s love can feel a bit conditional. I do think both are very cute. Probably, if I had to choose, it would be dogs.

BLADE: I’m a dog person, so I’m glad you said that.

EDGAR-JONES: [Laughs]

BLADE: Kya lives on the marsh and spends a lot of time on and in the water. Are you a swimmer or do you prefer to be on dry land?

EDGAR-JONES: I like swimming, I do. I grew up swimming a lot. If I’m ever on holidays, I like it to be by the sea or by a nice pool.

BLADE: Kya is also a gifted artist, and it is the thing that brings her great joy. Do you draw or paint?

EDGAR-JONES: I always doodle. I’m an avid doodler. I do love to draw and paint. I loved it at school. I wouldn’t say I was anywhere near as skilled as Kya. But I do love drawing if I get the chance to do it.

BLADE: Kya was born and raised in North Carolina. What can you tell me about your process when it comes to doing a southern accent or an American accent in general?

EDGAR-JONES: It’s obviously quite different from mine. I’ve been lucky that I’ve spent a lot of time working on various accents for different parts for a few years now, so I feel like I’m developed an ear for, I guess, the difference in tone and vowel sounds [laughs]. When it came to this, it was really important to get it right, of course. Kya has a very lyrical, gentle voice, which I think that North Carolina kind of sound really helped me to access. I worked with a brilliant accent coach who helped me out and I just listened and listened.

BLADE: While I was watching “Where the Crawdads Sing” I thought about how Kya could easily be a character from the LGBTQ community because she is considered an outsider, is shunned and ridiculed, and experiences physical and emotional harm. Do you also see the parallels?

EDGAR-JONES: I certainly do. I think that aspect of being an outsider is there, and this film does a really good job of showing how important it is to be kind to everyone. I think this film celebrates the goodness you can give to each other if you choose to be kind. Yes, I definitely see the parallels.

BLADE: Do you have an awareness of an LGBTQ following for your acting career?

EDGAR-JONES: I tend to stay off social media and am honestly not really aware of who follows me, but I do really hope the projects I’ve worked on resonate with everyone.

BLADE: Are there any upcoming acting projects that you’d like to mention?

EDGAR-JONES: None that I can talk of quite yet. But there are a few things that are coming up next year, so I’m really excited.

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