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‘Pariah’s Leading Lady Adepero Oduye On Playing Young Lesbian, Alike

‘Pariah’s Leading Lady Adepero Oduye On Playing Young Lesbian, Alike

Actress Adepero Oduye discovered many similarities with the lead character of Pariah, Alike. "You take away race, take away sexuality, it's about identity,” Oduye explains in an LA Times interview. “It's about trying to find out how to be in the world.”

Actress Adepero Oduye says she discovered many similarities with the lead character of she played in the lesbian-themed film Pariah.

"You take away race, take away sexuality, it's about identity,” Oduye explains in an LA Times interview. “It's about trying to find out how to be in the world.”

Oduye stars in writer-director Dee Rees’ moving, raw film about Alike, a 17-year-old African-American LGBT teen, coming to terms with her sexuality and expressing herself through poetry and writing.

Rees says she was wowed by Oduye's performance. "She totally shaved off the 16 years and just made it work," Rees told the LA Times.

In the interview, Oduye reveals that she deeply related to her character’s feelings of being an outsider. “Alike seems to be at this point where she's wanting to let all of that go and just be who she knows is deep down inside,” the actress says. “She's trying so hard, and it gets exhausting."

Winning praise --and Independent Spirit nod -- from audiences and critics for her eye-opening performance, Oyude says she feels proud of Pariah’s reception since it’s Sundance Film Fest debut.

"Since Sundance, brave people have been open and sharing their stories about what the film means to them. ... I'm thankful to have those exchanges. That's what you want art to do, to open people up and start conversations."

Read more from Adepero Oduye in the full interview, here.

Pariah is playing now in select cities.

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Lily Shavick