Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Marlee Matlin's Great Lesbian Adventure
by Karmen Ratkovic
2007-09-26

This article shared 15346 times since Wed Sep 26, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Karmen Ratkovic is a political activist in Croatia, working with non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ) on a wide range of issues. She is also a Deaf lesbian activist, and has been working to expand the visibility of lesbians in her country. One way she has done this is through sports, in organizations such as qSPORT and Bura, a lesbian soccer team, that played in the Gay Games last summer in Chicago. The following e-mail interview was conducted with actor Marlee Matlin in early September.

___________

Second photo, from left: Marlee Matlin's brother Eric; his wife, Gloria; Matlin's brother, Mark; and his partner, Jay Goldstein at the HRC gala. Photo by Kat Fitzgerald

___________

Academy Award winner Matlin will be in Chicago for a gala benefit featuring her co-stars from The L Word ( Jennifer Beals, Daniela Sea and BETTY ) , along with comic Marga Gomez, Sat., Oct. 6, at The Chopping Block, 222 Merchandise Mart. Chefs Art Smith and Shelley Young will also be featured at this Celebrity Cook-Off benefit for Gender PAC, a national gender-rights group. See www.gpac.org .

Karmen Ratkovic: How do you live in the surrounding of hearing people? Do you have anybody who is Deaf, that is, do you have any contact with Deaf people?

Marlee Matlin: My family [ husband and children ] are not deaf and most of my friends at work and at home are hearing. I grew up in Chicago, where my entire family was also hearing [ mom, dad and two brothers as well as various aunts, uncles and cousins ] . But most of my friends growing up in Chicago were deaf and my classmates were deaf as well. Today, I have some close friends who are deaf, but again, most of my daily friends and acquaintances are hearing. I do well going back and forth between Deaf and hearing worlds. It's the way I've always been.

KR: What was it that moved you to be an actress? Is your choosing the career of the actress in any relation with your Deafness? How has Hollywood stereotyped you and what roles are available?

MM: I've wanted to act since I was seven years old; that's when I did my first play, The Wizard of Oz. My mother said she took me to the International Center on Deafness and the Arts because she saw a desire in me to perform in front of people, and ICODA provided opportunities for deaf children to participate in the arts and drama. But I don't know if I chose acting because I was deaf. I chose acting because I was good at it!

As for Hollywood stereotyping me, Hollywood stereotypes everyone—men, women, young actors, old actors and actors with disabilities. Hollywood is all about fantasy and drama, and that means we all play characters that are larger than life. Often, this includes stereotypical behavior, behaviors that audiences can easily identity with. As for me, I shun stereotypes and I refuse to take roles which make me look silly or stupid as a Deaf person. It's also the reason why a lot of the roles I take are ones that I have created together with the writers and producers. Whether it's been the Dancing Bandit character I played on Picket Fences or the pollster I played on The West Wing or Jodi Lerner from The L Word, the characters I've played have avoided the stereotypes of Deafness and have broken new ground in the portrayals of Deaf characters. I'm proud of having opened the doors for other actors in Hollywood who are Deaf.

KR: Your brother is gay. How do feel about that? What can you tell us about the relationship with your brother in regard to your Deafness and his homosexuality—is there any influence in any direction? How about your view of gay people; how do you understand/see them, their challenges, problems, etc.?

MM: My brother is my brother, gay or not. His being gay never factored into how we thought of him in our family or how much we loved him. However, you could say our relationship has been defined by the fact that I'm Deaf and he's gay because we both come from communities that are in the minority. I think that has drawn us closer to each other. And as Ilene Chaiken, the executive producer of The L Word, said to me as she was developing my character, the issues facing Deaf people parallel the issues facing the LGBT community because both operate as minorities who are misunderstood by the general population. I found this fascinating but not surprising. In any case, as Matlins we are a very close and loving family, and whether we are Deaf, gay, Jewish, etc., we lived by the idea that every person deserves love and respect despite what people label as 'differences.'

KR: Here in Croatia, we've got no opportunity to see your acting in The L Word, but I'm fascinated by your roles in Children of a Lesser God and recently in What the Bleep. Anyway, I want to know what moved you to choose to join The L Word. How do you feel in this role?

MM: I was challenged by the very nature of the role in The L Word. It was so different than anything I had every played before. I've always asked to play roles that were new and challenging and playing a lesbian artist is certainly new for me! I was fortunate to have been cast alongside my friend, Jennifer Beals, who made the transition into playing a lesbian quite easy. She was assuring, as well as funny and she put my mind at ease when it came to playing something I had never played before. I love the cast and crew of The L Word and the role of Jodi Lerner is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever played!

KR: Since taking on The L Word role, you have attended many gay and lesbian events and benefits [ in various places ] , including Chicago, your hometown, where your brother introduced you. Can you tell us how being seen as more of an 'activist' on the issue of gays and lesbians feels?

MM: I've always been a supporter of minority communities and issues, so when I was asked to come out and support the LGBT community, I was glad to lend my name and presence. I don't necessarily consider myself an activist as much as I consider myself as a woman with an opinion. I wish I had time to be a full-time activist but I'm not so good at politics. But I am good at speaking my mind and my mind has always told me that no one, whether straight or gay, has the right to be discriminated against simply because of their sexual preferences. So, if there's discrimination out there or people are not realizing their rights, I'm happy to speak out on their behalf and use my public position to focus attention on the issue. That's what I can do best as an actor!

KR: Can you tell us any favorite parts about playing opposite Jennifer Beals on The L Word, and where this role is going this coming season?

MM: We loved laughing and giggling when we first worked together. Jennifer had already been playing a lesbian for three years on the show and this past season was my first time. She made fun of the way I kissed and held her, and she challenged me to do it better—to do it right. But I told her that I was doing it right!

All through my process of learning, she put my mind at ease and made it so easy for me to slip into the role of the lesbian artist, Jodi. We also playfully argued about who had the better clothes ( Jennifer chic, Marlee funky ) and our past roles. I often kidded her about Flashdance ( she pretended she didn't like to talk about that movie ) and she often kidded me about Children Of A Lesser God, which I made when I was 19 and looked very different! She is so much fun.

As for this coming season, I can't say what's going to happen, but I can tell you it's going to be very intense—more so than last year—and if you have a chance to watch, tune in!

KR: In your role on The L Word, are you happy with the way the writers have handled your Deafness, making it a critical part of your character and her politics?

MM: The writers on The L Word have been nothing but 100 percent open to incorporating accurate portrayals of Deafness. They've brought in other Deaf actors, [ and ] they've asked me to help them with storylines; it's been a dream! There's nothing on the show that I am embarrassed about [ regarding ] the way Jodi Lerner is portrayed. She is an accurate and very real example of a real Deaf character on television and I am very proud of having the opportunity to portray her.

KR: What do you think of the recent controversial issues in America, including the arrest and resignation of a U.S. senator for bathroom solicitation, and the potential approval of same-sex marriage in Iowa? Where do you think the gay movement is headed in terms of acceptance, and do you see any parallels with the Deaf community?

MM: All of the controversy about how nothing ever changes in terms of how people view gay people doesn't surprise me. It's been the same for the Deaf community. As Deaf people, we have had to constantly struggle to be respected and afforded our rights; the same goes for members of the gay community. I've learned that the struggle for equality and respect is an ongoing one and it's the same in the gay community, too. People's memories are short and every few years there's an issue ( like the Gallaudet University uprising or the Matthew Shepard case ) that serves to remind us that we will always have to struggle for our rightful place in society. I believe we should never get complacent or comfortable because before you know it, public opinions can change and/or those who make laws or lead us may come into power that takes away everything that we've achieved. It's a never-ending struggle and that's unfortunate. But it has made me strong and I'm sure that's the same for any member of the gay community that seeks to make a difference and live a life equal to their straight brothers and sisters.

KR: You are coming to Chicago for a benefit for Gender PAC. Can you explain your support of GPAC, especially as it relates to understanding transgender and gender identity issues?

MM: GPAC is all about gender equality and I'm all for that. As I said, no person should be denied their rights for love and respect simply because of their gender or sexual preference. GPAC works to make sure that no one should be discriminated against simply because of who they choose to love. And in particular, GPAC is working to make sure that LGBT teens—people who need positive reinforcement the most as they grow into adulthood—are afforded love and respect. Too often it is the community of LGBT teens that we see high rates of suicide because of society's unwillingness to accept them for who they are. GPAC is there to protect and support them—and I'm there to support GPAC.

KR: Thank you very much for your time. We would love to have you in Croatia anytime.


This article shared 15346 times since Wed Sep 26, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

'The Prom' out Dec. 11 on Netflix 2020-11-27
- The Prom—a musical-comedy film directed by Ryan Murphy and adapted by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin (from their and Matthew Sklar's 2018 Broadway musical of the same name)—will be out on Netflix on Dec. 11. The ...


Gay News

THEATER Harry Lennix to direct Dec. 13 reading of 'Mercy' 2020-11-20
- Northlight Theatre will present an Interplay New Play Development Program reading of Mercy, written by Felicia Oduh and directed by Harry Lennix (known for his acting roles on TV shows such as The Blacklist and Billions ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg 2020-11-16
- Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...


Gay News

TELEVISION Parvesh Cheena connects to NBC 2020-11-10
- Openly gay actor Parvesh Cheena is coping with the pandemic on NBC with a show called Connecting. This new ensemble comedic tale is told through video chats each week covering current topics such as mask wearing, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rock Hudson, The CW, Jillian Michaels, Isis King 2020-11-09
- Among Kino Lorber's December DVD and Blu-ray releases is a three-movie set (with the 1953-54 features Seminole, Golden Blade and Bengal Brigade) starring the late actor Rock Hudson, a press release noted. Co-stars in the films ...


Gay News

TELEVISION Karen and Kelsey explore 'Fargo' 2020-11-01
- Straight actresses Karen Aldridge and Kelsey Asbille are exploring new queer territory together on the fourth season of FX's Fargo. This drama television series has been primarily written by Peabody, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning executive ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Lovecraft,' Tony nominees, RuPaul, Megan Thee Stallion 2020-10-19
- The HBO show Lovecraft Country recently introduced a new character, Yahima—a Two-Spirit person who was quickly murdered and never mentioned again. But now, showrunner Misha Green has gone on Twitter to apologize for what she calls ...


Gay News

TELEVISION 'Our America: Living While Black' Oct. 19-25 2020-10-15
- ABC Owned Television Stations (a division of Walt Disney Television) go beyond the statistics in a five-part docuseries, Our America: Living While Black, running Oct. 19-23 while airing a different series each day, culminating into an ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Zachary Quinto, 'Schitt's Creek,' Mariah Carey 2020-10-12
- In a new report from the UCLA-based Center for Scholars and Storytellers titled "Beyond Checking A Box: A Lack of Authentically Inclusive Representation Has Costs at the Box Office," researchers found that bringing authentic diversity to ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Whitney Houston, all-trans 'Brokeback,' Sam Smith, 'Chicago Med' 2020-10-05
- A hologram of the late Whitney Houston was used in a livestream show—allegedly without permission from her estate, NME.com reported. Hologram USA founder Alki David had originally worked on Houston's likeness in 2016. The hologram appeared ...


Gay News

Robin Roberts, George Wendt and more part of Oct. 8 virtual party 2020-10-05
- Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, comedic legends George Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky, and Chicago Bears legend Charles "Peanut" Tillman will be part of a virtual cocktail party supporting the work of the Illinois Medical District ...


Gay News

Chicago focus of 'City So Real' TV event running Oct. 29 2020-09-24
- National Geographic Documentary Films announced that the critically acclaimed five-part documentary series from Participant and Kartemquin Films, City So Real, will air in an unprecedented one-night, five-hour, commercial-free event on ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Julia Child movie, Janelle Monae, 'Ammonite,' Harry Styles 2020-09-21
- David Hyde Pierce will star opposite Sarah Lancashire in Julia, HBO Max's drama pilot about the famous chef, trailblazing cookbook author and TV personality, Deadline reported. He replaces Tom Hollander, who originally had been tapped for ...


Gay News

'Schitt's Creek' dominates Emmys 2020-09-21
- The Canadian LGBTQ-centered comedy series Schitt's Creek cleaned up for its final season when the Television Academy showcased the Emmy Awards the evening of Sept. 20. This was the 72nd Emmy ceremony, and was largely virtual ...


Gay News

GALECA announces inaugural Dorian TV award winners 2020-09-21
- Hugh Jackman, Janelle Monae, Billy Porter, John Oliver and Schitt's Creek creator-star Dan Levy, plus stars and producers of Killing Eve and Watchmen, offered heartfelt thanks as they virtually accepted awards—and were treated to a symbolic ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.