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Interview: Deborah Stewart Gives Us the Inside Scoop on Love, 'Rizzoli and Isles' and Lesbian Vampires

Interview: Deborah Stewart Gives Us the Inside Scoop on Love, 'Rizzoli and Isles' and Lesbian Vampires

Deborah Stewart has played in some of your favorite shows and lesbian films and you may or may not have put two and two together, but when you see the hot detective chick or the sexy doctor performing her bedside manner on an unsuspecting adorable woman or the cop that just won’t take no for an answer, well, there’s a very real possibility that it’s Deborah you’re watching. Her films range from Love is Love (2007) with Glee’s favorite powerhouse and ex-L Word actress Jane Lynch to The Seer (2008) and a brand-new, unreleased film starring Deborah and…lesbian vampires? Yes, yes…lesbian vampires. Now I know you’re interested.

Deborah Stewart is the person you call when you have a role to fill and need a versatile actress to fill it. She is also the person you call when you need a little advice on the world around you from a tough-as-nails but sweet-as-pie friend. She is the epitome of being out in Hollywood at this given time – not only talking the talk about gay rights and lesbians in the media, but walking the walk as well. She puts herself on the line for her craft as well as the life she leads in the hopes that it may bring togetherness and understanding to others around her. Speaking with Deborah for only a few minutes, I could already sense that she was a spitfire encased in a gentle calmness that many people around the world would like to bottle and take home.

She has played in some of your favorite shows and lesbian films and you may or may not have put two and two together, but when you see the hot detective chick or the sexy doctor performing her bedside manner on an unsuspecting adorable woman or the cop that just won’t take no for an answer, well, there’s a very real possibility that it’s Deborah you’re watching. Her films range from Love is Love (2007) with Glee’s favorite powerhouse and ex-L Word actress Jane Lynch to The Seer (2008) and a brand-new, unreleased film starring Deborah and…lesbian vampires? Yes, yes…lesbian vampires. Now I know you’re interested.

Were there any noticeable changes in regards to the movie and television roles you were offered before you came out compared to after? Do you feel that your career was impacted negatively or positively?

You know, no, because not to sound egotistical, but I am a very versatile actor. I can wear the dress and be the tomboy or be the FBI agent who jumps over tables and counters or the cool aunt. I haven’t noticed any difference in any of the roles I’ve been offered since I came out as an actor awhile back. You know, if an out actor has more of a character look - like they look really butch or something like that to where you wouldn’t believe it if they were wearing a dress – then that is different and you probably would get typecast more often.

photo credit: gina glass/ Wonky Girl Productions

Can you tell us a little bit about your role on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles (starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander)? The episode you will be in will air on August 16, 2010 and is called “I Kissed a Girl”.  I’m sensing some Katy Perry around the corner for us.

Yeah, I can’t give you the whole story of course because it hasn’t aired yet, but I play a lesbian hitting on Angie Harmon’s character and we’re in a lesbian bar. So, obviously the story has to do with a lesbian crime that has occurred. I’m only in one episode so, unfortunately, it’s not a recurring episode. I’d love to hit on that every week, but…[Laughs]. You know, we had fun shooting and it was really funny.

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What was it like working with Angie Harmon on the episode? Can you provide your fans with an inside scoop?

Angie was wonderful. She is so funny! In fact, while we were doing our scene, she told me that comedy is her favorite thing to do but she always gets cast in these serious detective roles because of her energy and whatnot. She reminds me of Lucille Ball with her facial expressions and quit wit. It was a long shoot that went well into the wee hours and we became kind of punch drunk, you know, but we had a lot of fun joking around. She is very funny and very professional at the same time. She is very on top of her game but in no way shape or form is she a prima donna. She was very friendly to everyone in the cast and on the crew. It was very nice. It’s so great.

You also starred with Glee’s Jane Lynch in Love is Love. Great performance! What was she like?

A friend of mine named Anne Renton directed that short and, in fact, that was her first directorial experience. From there, she directed The Perfect Family with Kathleen Turner and Emily Deschenel from Bones. She went from Love is Love to The Perfect Family and that film is about a Catholic family whose daughter is gay and ends up being pregnant. It’s going to come out probably next year because she is just now editing it. It’s going to be another great lesbian film. It’ll be another lesbian storyline and I love that because we need to see that more and more. The Kids Are Alright just came out..You know, even the new 90210 has a cute gay girl as one of the main characters.

I know what you mean! I remember watching the original 90210 and wondering why there weren’t any gay women on it at that time and wishing there were so that we could be represented (assuming that there were any gay women in Beverly Hills of course)…

[Laughs] I know, right? Yeah!

photo credit: gina glass/ Wonky Girl Productions

I understand that there is a lesbian vampire role in your future (release date in 2012). Please tell us more!

Yeah, I play a lesbian vampire. I can’t say the title of it because it’s a really good title and we don’t want anybody to snag it! It’s so great to be a part of fun, gay content. I also have The Seer that I was in and it’s now taking on a life of its own as a franchise with a book and everything about a gay detective.

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Thank you for being out there for us and delivering all of this great, new lesbian content. We need more out there so that our lives become more mainstream on the screen and not just seen by strictly LGBT audiences. I think that the more mainstream we can be, the more people will understand our lives and accept that we’re “normal” just like everyone else.

Yeah, and good stories, you know? Not all about having sex and everybody cheating on everybody because not everybody is into that. It has to be about good stories! It’s that good storyline that is going to move us forward as a community and help us get even more into the mainstream community.

It could just be me and something that I have noticed, but it feels like we were putting stuff out there specifically for the LGBT audience because we really didn’t have anything and now we do and we have a responsibility to continue moving out stories out into the mainstream.

Yes, like Grey’s Anatomy. The storyline between the two women is about their life as partners and isn’t all about having sex. It’s about the real lesbian world.

photo credit: gina glass/ Wonky Girl Productions

I understand that you have a few thoughts on illegal downloading of videos, etc. Mind sharing?

Yeah, just that, you know, people need to stop downloading and pirating movies so that filmmakers can be able to do their “thing” and actually make money on their stuff and get the good storylines out there. As a message to everyone, you know, the more we can just wait for the films to come out on DVD and pay for it, the more filmmakers can make more stuff.

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You have a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology and have traveled to over 23 different countries. I don’t think we have enough room to write down everything you’d learned, but what are a few of the most important lessons and observations you’ve accumulated over the years?

Yeah, basically, there is a two year legitimate program at the University of Santa Monica that I found out about and decided to take. What happened was that I was on a shoot and the AD had this really great energy and I asked her about her story and she told me that she just graduated from this program. I went and signed up the very next day because what she told me about was just really amazing. A lot of people go to clean themselves out or to become counselors and get their degree. I went to go do some improvement on myself because I think that it’s a never-ending thing for anybody to really work on themselves and continue with it. The premise of the program was that we are divine beings having a human experience instead of the other way around. So, they talked a lot about not only forgiveness but self-forgiveness as well and that is huge. Self-forgiveness means dropping judgments and paying attention to what your limited beliefs are and paying attention to them. Before I took the program, I was really attached to outcomes and felt like I was on this treadmill like, “Oh, I’ve got to make this happen. I’ve got to make this happen”.  Instead, you know, I learned how to co-create, surrender and go with it all and not be attached to the outcome - in my personal life, too. It’s been amazing.

photo credit: gina glass/ Wonky Girl Productions

I spend a lot of my time traveling and exploring the world and that also has helped my acting because I’ve seen all of these different human conditions. America is so fortunate and so blessed. When you can really fit into another world, so to speak, and fit into that dynamic that goes on between different people in different environments it’s great. I mean, any time you have the opportunity to travel you should do it. It’s such a gift.

Do you have a favorite location to visit?

I like the Scandinavian countries. I’ve been to Russia and China…I think what I like about it is that everything is so clean and they are such happy people! There was a study done not too long ago that determined that people in Norway are the happiest people in the world. Everybody is so friendly and you don’t have to worry.  When I went to Brazil, I was just constantly worried about getting mugged. It’s hard to relax when you’re always watching your back.

Spoken like a true detective!

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Sarah Toce