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Ellen Page Talks LGBTQ Fundraising, Not Watching Movies

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Actress and social activist Ellen Page recently witnessed history repeating itself while revisiting acclaimed classic Casablanca. Page noted the 1942 films eerie modern-day relevance, the Nazi presence, but the sort of neutrality of people,while watching the fraught and tense events – as well as the romanticism of sacrifice” – unfold as Humphrey Bogarts Rick Blaine, former freedom fighter and nightclub owner in Casablanca, protects his old flame, Ingrid Bergmans Ilsa, and her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) from Nazis. What stood out after taking another look at director Michael Curtizs WWII-set romantic drama: You have these scenes in this cafe where theyre being shown respect because theres these officials, even though, needless to say, theyre completely disagreeing.

Page and writer-filmmaker Jason Reitman, who directed the actress in her Oscar-nominated breakout role in 2007s Juno, set out to reimagine Casablanca for our Trump-led times, which are similarly fraught and tense for those desperately seeking life in America and for disenfranchised groups already there. Simply titled Live Read of Casablanca and part of the Live Read Series, this is what Casablanca looks like in 2018 thanks to the diversified scope of Page and Reitmans Dec. 13 live-read of the classic film at Los Angeless Ace Theater: female-led, and very queer. Before the event, a benefit for Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQ human rights around the globe, Page was eager to perform with an inclusivecast who are fucking awesome.

Its one of the most iconic love stories with some of the most memorable lines of any film ever,says the 31-year-old actress by phone. It just seems perfect to sort of recreate it in the way that we are.

Live-streaming future reads to reach a larger audience is a good suggestion,she acknowledged, but for now, I really encourage people to go to (Astraeas) website and learn more about their work and what they do, and if theyre able to support in any way at all that would obviously be really amazing.

Pages queering and feminizing of Casablanca marches in line with a Hollywood movement bending to minorities as they occupy the narratives of famed and noteworthy but classically cisgender, straight, white works, from the all-black cast remake of Lifetimes Steel Magnolias to the Latinx-led One Day at a Time, on Netflix, and women taking on roles first depicted by men in Oceans 8 and Ghostbusters. In some ways, people are almost just realizing it,Page remarks on efforts to portray underrepresented minorities on screen. She says, until recently, the privilegedAmerican public (see: white people) havent been cognizantof giving every kind a seat at the table.

Page, who came out in 2014 and married professional dancer and fellow Canadian Emma Portner in 2018, is forthright about the lack of diversity in some of her own films.

A movie like Whip It, you know, should be more queer,she says, blatantly. Its just that simple.

Drew Barrymores directorial debut, Whip It featured Page as Bliss Cavendar, a Texan teenager living in a fictional town called Bodeen and joining a roller derby team, which includes derby girls played by Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Eve and Juliette Lewis. It wasnt a realistic reflection of the derby world, and I wish that was different,the actress says. I love that film, just wanna be clear. Love that film, had a fucking blast, met two of my best friends in the universe on the film. But yeah, of course looking back on that, thats a bummer.

Released in 2009 by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Page adds, Its a reflection of the time. Id like to think that it would be different now, and I think it actually does show not much has changed, but some things have.

As demonstrated in recent years, its not too late for past works on the wrong side of diversity, so perhaps the unrealistically heterosexual-laden Whip It could be remedied: If you made a sequel, I would love it,Page enthuses. I wish there was a Whip It 2, and she was lesbian.She giggles, delighted by the thought. And living in Austin.

Cut on roles in 2005s Hard Candy and Juno, Pages career has dipped into multiple genres: high-budget thrill rides (two X-Men films, Inception), zombie dramas heavy on queer subtext (The Cured), and gay-themed true stories. In the 2015 lesbian biopic Freeheld, Page portrayed Stacie Andree, the partner of Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a gay police officer who fought to have her pension benefits transferred to Andree after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Early the following year, the actresscollaboration with gay friend and co-host Ian Daniel, Vicelands Gaycation, aired. The show had the activists traveling to countries like Japan, Brazil and Jamaica to investigate the horrific challenges and distinct cultural characteristics of being LGBTQ abroad.

After two seasons, the show returned in April 2017 for a special presentation that examined LGBTQ life in America post Trump. No more episodes are planned, Page apologetically reveals, but she and Daniel are in the early development stages of a different project thats similar,but less in terms of a travel show, more focused stories.She adds, Not that theyll be in America, by any means.

Looking back on Gaycation, Page was humbled by the experience, which she says changed me.” “I mean, youre meeting people who, every day, are risking their lives, are activists spending their lives doing that, and sacrifice so much to do that. Thats a level of bravery and courage that Id like to think Im capable of, but Im probably not.

Meeting transgender activist and famed Stonewall rioter Miss Major for the first seasons finale was an unforgettable moment for the actress when thinking of a force and a person who is someone whos ultimately been responsible for so much change for the community.

After Gaycation, Page has continued to tackle projects that are extensions of her own lesbian identity, such as this years The Cured, an allegorically queer zombie film from out filmmaker David Freyne. Recent LGBTQ films evade her simply because Ive, like, literally barely watched movies. Its been a problem.She immediately retracts: Not a problem – but the last year or two, quite frankly, I dont know, but just for some reason I havent really watched movies.Apologizing for missing this years impressive slate of LGBTQ films (she did ask for recommendations), Page says she thoroughly enjoyed the stunningTomboy, a 2011 French drama she says is still fresh on her mind.

Seemingly more queer-content creator than consumer, she just wrapped shooting the revival of Armistead Maupins 1993 TV adaptation of his Tales of the City books, where she joins original cast members Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis in the 10-part Netflix series, due in 2019. Page refrained from sharing specific details as requested by showrunners, but Netflixs contemporary Tales is set 20 years later, as Mary Ann (Linney) returns to San Francisco to her ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross) and daughter Shawna (Page), as well as Anna Madrigal (Dukakis) and a motley crew of other 28 Barbary Lane residents.

I have a love interest, played by Zosia Mamet,Page says of her co-star, best known for her role on HBOs Girls. Zosias amazing. She absolutely blew me away. I had such a wonderful time working with her. She is such a phenomenal actor, so yeah, that was awesome.

And acting alongside Dukakis and Linney: Its crazy, right? Yeah, walking in and working with someone like Laura Linney, who is absolutely one of my favorites of all time – and, of course, Olympia I felt so welcomed,she says. You couldnt be working with more lovely, sincere, they-do-this-job-because-they-just-fucking-love-it (people).

Says Page, Its about connecting with another actor, not to sound all actor-y and cheesy, but that is such a joy, to be in an environment like that. So to have the opportunity to be able to work with someone like Laura, and to be a part of this in terms of the stories and the narratives and the representation, yeah, I feel very lucky that I was included.

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