Loving Annabelle director and writer Katherine Brooks thinks an entertainment utopia would look like balance. The state of television today isn’t one that accurately represents the LGBTQ community and with the #LGBTFansDeserveBetter movement still going strong, Brooks has planned a return to television production to do her part to usher the industry in the right direction.
With popular MTV shows from the Emmy Award winning The Osbournes to Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica under her belt — her ability to satisfy the folks concerned over ratings combined with her desire to promote fairness when it comes to representation is exactly what the industry needs. A member of the Directors Guild of America, the 40-year-old who has directed shows for NBC, ABC and Bravo has also received recognition as she earned the LACE Award for Arts and Entertainment, which honours women who have made a difference in the entertainment community.
TheFeminismProject.com managed to squeeze some time and energy from Brooks, who is currently working on her latest film Lost In Time. It’s clear the LGBT community supports the director who is dedicated to telling the stories too many industry professionals are afraid to tell. With a GoFundMe page live, LGBTQ fans everywhere have been showing their support through donations proving the demand for these stories to be told are real.
Brooks shared her feelings on feminism, representation in the media and her intentions to also include people of colour. As advocates for intersectional feminism, we asked her tough questions and the director tackled them all. Now, let’s get on with the interview!
Let’s talk about the #LGBTFansDeserveBetter and the video you published supporting the movement. First of all, powering through The 100 series is impressive — second, your takeaway from it echoed the voices of the whole movement. As a producer and someone who often takes on the responsibility of handling a character, you offered a numbered of possible alternatives when handling the departure of an actor. Do you think letting Lexa live would have at all comprised the storylines or left some audiences without closure?
The beautiful thing about writing is the ability to create WHATEVER reality you want. If it were my show, there are many things I would have done differently if I had to have the actress playing Lexa leave. But, we have to take into consideration we don’t know ALL the details of what was happening and ALSO that it’s not MY show. I think you can create closure of a character without having them killed.
Moving forward, how should folks in entertainment handle contentious storylines like this?
They don’t have to handle it. Don’t support shows that don’t respect their audience. Support and demand more LGBT writers and directors in my industry. Continue to make your voices heard on social media (which has garnered attention from BBC, Washington Post, Variety…
You’ve spoken about how LGBT audiences receive this type of representation. But what do you think it says about representation to mass audiences when queer characters are killed off? And so frequently? What does it tell them?
That we are disposable.
In the television world and in your experience, is finding LGBTQ+ folks to work in the industry challenging? How do you think having more diversity in television production may help or hinder the narratives of stories we consume in popular culture?
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of LGBT behind the scenes on movies and television. But, just because you are queer doesn’t mean you are a saint. Many executives in networks care only of ratings because honestly, it’s their job. But, if you have an artist behind the scenes as a writer, they are going to be able to come up with a story line that will keep the ratings high, but also consider the fans and not destroy them.
You’ve been a woman in the industry a long time now. Breaking into a male dominated world must have been tough. Do you remember how you felt when you started your career?
My first gig on a network show as a director was very eye opening. My first 5 minutes on location, I was asked to get coffee for talent after being mistaken for a production assistant. Usually, before I meet my crew, it’s assumed I’m in wardrobe or the make-up department. There are not a lot of women directors. This is something I am trying to change as well.
“By being true to who we are, by demanding fairness, by sticking together — we will win. Love always does.”
Have you since noticed a shift in representation behind the camera? Could you highlight some of the best changes that you’ve noticed?
Vimeo started the SHARE THE SCREEN, focusing on female directors. And honestly, Kickstarter/Indiegogo/Gofundme/ all of these platforms allow people like me (LGBT/female) to get our projects funded by our community which is fucking empowering and great! We have to support our own if we want to see our stories on screen more!
What are some areas that still need work or improvement when it comes to both feminism and LGBTQ+ representation?
The reason I loved The 100 so much is that the show wasn’t ABOUT being gay. The character just happened to be LGBTQ, which is great. I like this. I like to escape in stories like this. We are people. Our stories are universal. And getting our stories in the main stream will only help our fight for fairness and equality. There are so many “stereotypes” that go with LGBTQ which is just bull shit. By creating stories that explore our lives will only open up the closed minded to see we’re just people like everyone else. We don’t have three thumbs or two feet. Feelings and emotions are universal.
In your Vimeo video, you talk about promoting fairness, balance and your changed approach to filmmaking by creating more strong LGBT characters. This is amazing and is something the LGBTQ+ community needs. Though it’s 2016 now, what do you think the challenges and/or struggles as a filmmaker during this time will be?
Looking back in history at the struggle minorities face, it’s clear that as we get stronger, we draw to us the opposition who want to keep us down. Now more than ever, we need to remain strong and connected as a community. We can be angry without spreading hate. We can change things without forcing it. By being true to who we are, by demanding fairness, by sticking together — we will win. Love always does.
It’s been a decade since you did right by the LGBTQ community and brought us Loving Annabelle! This movie tickled gay hearts everywhere and I just re-watched the film this weekend — 10 years later, it’s still super hot and entertaining (PS, thanks for not killing off Simone or Annabelle). We heard a rumour you’re working on a film called Lost In Time — can you tell us a bit about this?
In Lost In Time, I explore the relationship between a Psychiatrist (played by Jill Hennessy) and her female patient. As you know, I am intrigued by taboo situations and relationships. Everyone always asked me to do a Loving Annabelle 2, which I can’t do — so, in a way this is kind of my follow up.
We are so looking forward to more projects you’ll be involved with. We have to also ask, will you find a way to also increase representation for people of colour? Is this also on the agenda?
What are some examples of good LGBTQ+ film and television works that you have seen with solid representation (they can be works of your own or others you enjoyed as a fan)?
Here are some of my favorite films/TV: Fingersmith, Imagine Me & You, Desert Hearts, Will and Grace, Show Me Love, Aimee & Jaguar, Carol, Grandma and The 100 until they killed Lexa and then I stopped watching the show.
What would an entertainment utopia look like to you?
Image credits: Facebook