By Alex Spieth
My journey to changing “the internet world as we know it” all started with pretty un-woke conversation when I was trying to cast a role in the first episode of a to-be-movie star who sleeps with me and then tunes me out to watch ‘How I Met Your Mother’. None of my go-to actors were super cool with nudity and I didn’t know how they would feel about simultaneously pounding and slapping me (WE MUST CURATE OUR BRAND CAREFULLY, YOU KNOW). My BFF suggested this dude who was super hot who I had never met, but there was one question on my mind:
“But, will that guy seem too gay to play straight?”
“No, dude. No way.”
“Okay. I’ll cast him”
The Chosen One was, in fact, so good that I couldn’t believe I had thought about anyone else, and, I’m moved to say, went on to have sex with me on camera.
Simultaneously, I was in the process of casting my series boyfriend, Ronnie, a dull, lawyer, and I wanted someone non-white, since we have such a huge problem within the film industry of constantly defaulting to straight, white, cis men as the hero or love interest (Matt Damon in ‘Great Wall’ or pretty much the majority of his films which could’ve literally been played by any ethnicity). However, I DIDN’T KNOW that many non-white actors, and the ones I do know were already on jobs, which would pay them more than Alex Spieth (step right up for your 50 dollar stipends here!)
I did what any woman in search of internet romance would do: I asked all my gal-pals for some suggestions, scouted coffee locations near the dudes respective work places and I went on three real-life dates back-to-back where I tried to suss out if this guy was gonna be a good match for my web-work . By the end of the day, I was buzzing from coffee and feeling the love.
Interview questions included:
“How old are you?”
“Are you comfortable giving me my first orgasm on camera?”
And the ever-useful, “Do you think you act well?”**
All the dudes I met were so charming, charismatic, and great. The conversation was stimulating, and it felt like the best dates I’d ever been on in my life. I paid for all three coffees, and they had all read the scripts. One guy offered to cut his hair for the role, and I thought: Wow, is this what happens when you don’t go on Tinder?
In one of the interviews, I met this dude who was, in fact, so funny that I blurted out, “I don’t think you’re right for this role because he’s supposed to be someone that I fall in love with against all odds. It’s so easy to fall in love with you.”
The dude said, “Wow, that’s so nice.”
(Then I knocked over my coffee, and the dude helped me clean it up. The next day, he sent me suggestions of other non-white dudes who might fit the role better than he did. Like, what a PRINCE. While he didn’t book the role of Ronnie, I did ask him out via email. He was taken, but, who can say what the future may hold?)
Ronnie ended up being an Asian guy I had done an improv practice group with years before. My web-bf is smart, kind, shows up on time, and is totally down to try anything. My web-bf is great at being supportive and texted me on my birthday when no exes did. My web-bf is so good on camera and in the flesh. He was worth the wait and time. AND, as bonus, when filmed the first orgasm scene, it was like, The Empire Strikes Back at Stereotypes.
The last male I cast was a guy in poly relationship that I sleep with in Episode 3. He was another recommended coffee date. We read a scene in public, he was rushing off to film his own work, I met his producer friend who talked to me about Astral Projection. A real NYC moment right? Fast forward 3 months: We made out on set, jump cut to the morning after, and it felt like home.
Samantha Bee says, “The f***ing thing you have to do is just hire people.” My work as a web creator has taught me that there is no such thing as a bad actor. There is only an actor who hasn’t had enough takes. Don’t be too worried about going with who you know because branching out will feel better. While I don’t feel like I can confidently write a story outside of my own experience about race, what I can do, is cast non-white, straight guys who I get to have sex with on camera. So, like, one small step for human-kind independent filmmakers, right?
This is what filmmakers should be doing, especially with such a huge awareness of the need to be more inclusive on ALL fronts in front of, and behind the camera. As creators, we have to be making conscious decisions to evolve what we see in the greater film industry.
(But also, donate to the ACLU, cause they are working way faster and harder than my series. Also, Planned Parenthood, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and non-profits that are tirelessly working for equality right now. And get involved in the Black Lives Matter justice movement.)
We can’t demand change if we’re not willing to create it ourselves.
**An under-used question in the interview process, but has helped Donald Trump as he answered a resounding “Yes” to “Do You Think You Could President Well?”
Alex Spieth is a writer and actor living in NYC. She frequently collaborates with Irondale Ensemble, Third Space, and Tele-Violet, and tours a one-woman participatory show about rape culture to colleges/universities. Creator of [Blank] My Life (see TRAILER for Season 2 here). You’ll know her name by 2019. .