Viceland debuts Feb. 29, in both Canada and the United States. In Canada, the channel is owned by Rogers, and it’s replacing the channel formerly known as Bio (check local listings). One of the shows on its slate is Gaycation, premiering on Wednesday March 2 at 10 p.m., which follows Ellen Page and her best friend, Ian Daniel, as they search for LGBTQ community in Japan, Brazil, Jamaica, and the United States.
It might sound like a standard queer travel show, but the first episode, in which they visit Japan, is surprisingly original and even profound. (Viceland has made it available a week before the premiere on its YouTube channel.) Page might be a movie star, but she approaches the people she meets on her travels with humility and curiosity, and her friendship with Daniel is downright aspirational in its closeness. While the show begins on familiar ground—with visits to Tokyo’s gay bars and interviews with straight women who are obsessed with graphic gay manga—some of the later scenes, including a young man coming out to his mother while Page and Daniel sit alongside them both, are wonderfully raw and real.
June Thomas of Slate.com spoke with Page and Daniel about traveling together, why they chose to interact with people who are hostile to LGBTQ culture, and whether making a show like this could harm Page’s career.
In the past, gay travel shows have tended to focus on bars, beaches, and hotties. It seems like you’re doing something more substantive than that. What’s Gaycation’s mission?
Ellen Page: I love travel shows. I love Anthony Bourdain. I love No Reservations. I always learn so much, and I wanted to see one from a gay perspective that explored LGBT communities around the world. Naturally, that becomes the joys, the fun, the scene, and then also the struggles, the triumphs, and the difficulties. By focusing on the community, you can learn more about the whole country.
Travel journalism, especially on television, has often had a boosterish quality: the best this, the best that. I know that some of the places you went are not LGBT-friendly. How did you deal with those negative experiences?
Page: A huge part of the show is talking to those who don’t like us, or are fine with us but don’t want us to get married, or want us to be dead, or think we have a disorder—different levels of hatred and fear and what have you. It’s a huge part of the show because we want to give a face to that, to what’s potentially inflicting the violence, to what’s preventing equality. A lot of those people are just a symptom of an issue. There is a core issue, and it manifests in this. Why is that? Really that’s what we’re trying to ask. We try to go in with an open heart and an open mind to figure it out. Because, yes, there are often times where you just want to be, like, why do you give a shit? Why do you give a shit if that guy wants to kiss that guy? Why do you give a shit if that person was born in the wrong body and is a trans woman? What is your problem?
Are any of the destinations that you go to places where you basically said: This is not a comfortable place to be queer?
Daniel: Absolutely. When there’s the first gay party, but you have to have bodyguards with machine guns to have a gay dance party, the whole trip is clearly colored by that energy, and that’s the important part of the episode. We came in as two gay people, and we’re going to places where probably two white gay people are not going to go, and that’s the part of the show. We’re not on a vacation. We want to go and see what’s going on, and then there are parts where, on some level, we do act as tourists. Like, what is the tourist experience, what is the reality of that?
You two seem to have a very intense bond. How did you meet?
Daniel: Ellen was doing her films, and I think she wanted a break. I was working in New York, and I wanted to do something different while I could. I was on a journey to learn about self-sufficiency, growing my own food, about community, all those things. So I ended up on a veggie-oil-powered school bus with people I didn’t really know, traveling cross country. I ended up at this place in Oregon where they teach a course in permaculture design. I’m taking the course, and I’m away from the world as far as I can go, and Ellen comes to take the course. We’re living in dorms, and we’re taking classes, and we’re learning how to grow things, peeing in buckets,
Page: It’s just such a special way to meet someone.
Travel journalism is one of those professions—like acting, I imagine—where people think it’s glamorous and want to get into it. And, actually, while it can be very cool, it’s also really hard work and not at all glamorous a lot of the time. What was your experience?
Page: I may be more used to being in front of a camera than Ian, but I’m not used to being in front of a camera as myself. I’m not used to watching myself asmyself, you know. Look, of course you have days that are long, you’re tired, and things aren’t working out, and you can get frustrated, but I would say any of the things that make it less glamorous or cause some complexity or turn you down the road you weren’t expecting to go down is a part of the thrill.
Daniel: I think that if we were just having a vacation, having fun, we would be bored. We’re both very curious, and we want to be learning.
Page: Even if we went on a vacation, we would probably try to make it resemble these trips as much as we could.
Ellen, do you have any concern at all that doing a show like this could hurt your movie career?
Page: I certainly would like to think not, I’m just making a travel show about the community that I happen to be a part of, so it would be shocking to me if it did. I’m also not naive to the fact that I’m an out gay actor. All I can say is, we’ll see.
You might also face criticism from within the community.
Page: We are just trying to do the best possible job we can. We’re not perfect. All you can do is trust the positive intention behind it, and we’re always going to work to, hopefully, get better and better.
In a new interview with The Guardian; Ellen Page talks about child stardom, her Vice TV show and why she had to stop living a lie. Along with the interview we are graced with a beautiful new photoshoot photographed by Amanda Friedman.
Within a few minutes of meeting the actor Ellen Page near her Los Angeles home, we’re talking about what she enjoys doing around here, which is going surfing with her girlfriend, artist Samantha Thomas. She likes to watch Thomas, the more experienced surfer, examine the waves. Thomas tells her which way to turn, based on movements in the water that Page can’t even see. “Particularly on days where there are onshore winds, so it’s kind of rough, she’ll say, ‘Oh, a wave’s coming at you, it’s a right, go right’ and I’m just like, ‘What are you looking at? You can read the ocean like that?’ It’s really hot,” she adds, the excitement in her gentle voice suggesting that she is quietly, but madly, in love.
There is nothing hugely remarkable about any of this, especially here in California, except that until February 2014 Page would have been unable to have such a conversation with a journalist. The actor who starred in Juno, Hard Candy and Whip It, all films about tough young women who go against the grain, was living a lie. She was pretending to be straight, or at least “lying by omission”, as she puts it, intent on fulfilling her acting ambitions without any adverse attention, even though she had been out of the closet with her loved ones for years. But the double life had started to take its toll on her sanity, so she decided, a month before the event, that she would come out during a speech at a Las Vegas conference for counsellors of young LGBT people. “I’m here today because I am gay,” she revealed, halfway through an eight-minute talk, to a standing ovation that began before she had even finished. It was Valentine’s Day.
Page was only 26, but had been acting professionally since the age of 10; at 20, she was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for her role as the eponymous pregnant high-school student in Juno. The gulf between her public and private lives had been growing long enough. “I felt, let’s just please be done with this chapter of discomfort and sadness and anxiety, and hurting my relationships, and all those things that come with it,” she says now, sitting in the corner of a restaurant, in a baseball cap, sipping a green tea. “I felt guilty for not being a visible person for the community, and for having the privilege that I had and not using it. I had got to the point where I was telling myself, you know, you should feel guilty about this. I was an active participant in an element of Hollywood that is gross. I would never judge somebody else for not coming out, but for me, personally, it did start to feel like a moral imperative.”
The day after the speech, she flew straight to Montreal to do reshoots for her role as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and everyone there told her she seemed totally different. “And I was totally different! Just the immediacy of how much better I felt. I felt it in every cell of my body.”
Read the full interview at The Guardian.
Ellen Page has accused Hollywood of double standards on homosexuality, arguing that she should be able to play roles of any sexuality despite having recently come out as gay.
The Oscar-nominated star of Juno and Hard Candy said she had been asked if she feared becoming pigeonholed after signing up for a number of gay-themed roles over the past two years. However, she also conceded that Hollywood was slowly improving in its attitudes to diversity.
“Zachary Quinto [of Star Trek fame] is out, and he stars in one of the biggest blockbuster franchises,” the 28-year-old Canadian actor told Elle magazine. “I have four projects coming up – all gay roles. People ask if I’m concerned about getting pigeonholed. No one asks: ‘Ellen, you’ve done seven straight roles in a row – shouldn’t you shake it up and do something queer?’
“There’s still that double standard. I look at all the things I’ve done in movies: I’ve drugged a guy, tortured someone, become a roller-derby star overnight. But now I’m gay, I can’t play a straight person?”
Page said her six-year battle to bring gay rights drama Freeheld to the big screen had informed her decision to come out in February 2014. “It was part of it,” she said. “What blows my mind is how my own personal journey paralleled the development of that movie. It felt wildly inappropriate to be playing this character as a closeted person. Coming out was a long process, though.”
Page’s comments come after Ian McKellen said on Monday that homophobia was as much of an issue in Hollywood as racism. McKellen expressed sympathy with black actors angry at the Academy’s failure to nominate a single actor from a black or ethnic minority background for an Oscar for a second year running, but he said the issue was a wider one.
“No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance,” said the 76-year-old two-time nominee. “My speech has been in two jackets … ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar.’ I’ve had to put it back in my pocket twice.”
Ellen Page’s full interview appears in the March issue of Elle UK, on sale Thursday.
In this months issue of American Way, Ellen Page is on the cover of the airline’s official magazine! Ellen tells American Way about her film Freeheld and her decision to come out.
The full magazine is available to read/download in HQ at ink-live.com/emagazines (mobile compatible)
“I wanted to do it and not make it seem about myself. And I wanted to align particularly with something LGBT-youth-oriented,” Page said of her coming out speech at Time to THRIVE. “For me, it was a great opportunity to be honest, to share certain elements of the pain that I went through. Hopefully, that can connect with someone else. The reality is, there are very few young people out as actors, so I was hoping to speak to a lot of the issues so it wouldn’t just seem like, ‘Hey, look, I’m gay.’”
Ellen Page is featured in the winter issue of DuJour Magazine for 2015’s Defining Moments in Film
“Every time I read this script, I’m emotionally moved,” Page says of Freeheld, which is based on a real-life lesbian couple facing heartbreaking discrimination. “When I met Stacie Andree and she took me around the town and into the house that was her and Laurel Hester’s home, or to the convenience store where Laurel liked to get her coffee, I felt—even though Stacie had had this wonderful life—the emotional weight of her loss. That’s what hit me the most.”
Photographed by Jeremy Liebman
Pre-Order Freeheld on DVD & Blu-ray™ on Amazon. Available to own on February 2, 2016! (US)
Interview: Ellen Page doesn’t spend much time worrying about what straight men think… – Washington Post
In case the skinny ties and the leather pants and the rock-and-roll boots she’s been wearing lately haven’t been enough to clue you in, actress Ellen Page does not spend a whole lot of time these days worrying about what straight guys think of her.
Call it a low bar, but in Hollywood, this is quietly revolutionary.
Page works in an industry where the worth of women, especially young women, is historically tied to the whims and gazes of straight men. Be it studio heads, or directors, or audiences made up of adolescent boys and men, or even their own co-stars, so much of an actress’s working life is colored by what men find attractive.
Not long after she charmed audiences as the titular character in 2007’s “Juno,” Page found herself sucked into Hollywood’s Glam Industrial Complex. She’d show up on red carpets in gowns, high heels and perfect makeup; in 2009, lad mag FHM named her to its list of the world’s “Sexiest 100” women.
But then Page, who is now 28, came out in February 2014 in an emotional speech delivered at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive youth conference in Las Vegas. And as she reveled in being comfortable with who she was, her gender presentation began to shift. For one, she began eschewing dresses. These days, Page tends to gravitate toward a more androgynous aesthetic of button-down shirts, blazers and skinny pants.
When asked if she’d detected a difference in the way straight men interact with her since changing her personal style, Page responded, “No, not at all. But maybe that’s because I’m never thinking about that.” She cracked a bit of a smile as she sat with her back to a window in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown. “That’s just not something that would ever cross my mind, how a straight man’s perceiving me.”
Recently, Matt Damon found himself in a bit of trouble after an interview with the Guardian, specifically for comments he made about gay actors being punished professionally for being out. He named Rupert Everett as an example.
Then he continued: “I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly. But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”
Damon doesn’t keep his own sexuality a secret. He routinely appears on red carpets with his wife, Luciana Barroso. But sexuality is about more than just who you’re dating. Page made the conscious decision to make a shift in her gender presentation after years of submitting to dressing in typical starlet drag.
“There’s a double standard,” Page said. “That’s something that would get said to you: ‘Keep your private life private, no one needs to know. You’re creating an illusion.’ And you’d be like, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. But I don’t see heterosexual actors and actresses going to great lengths to hide their heterosexuality… it’s not fair because heterosexual people get to exist in their heterosexuality all the time without thinking about it.”
Sean Penn was famously and openly straight for decades before he played Harvey Milk. The same was true of Heath Ledger, who had a daughter with partner Michelle Williams and quite convincingly played Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain.”
When Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2005, she opened the interview with a statement: “You’ve got to be really secure in yourself to do a movie about two gay men being in love and then not worry about being typecast,” she said.
When gay actors are out, gay roles don’t get treated as though they come with a one-way ticket to a leper colony in lieu of payment.
“I’m happier than I could have ever imagined, and happier in my career,” Page said. “When you’re closeted you’re closed off, you’re sad, you’re uninspired. A huge part of me was like, ‘Do I keep wanting to do this job?’ The fact that I can be out and live my life and be happy has a ripple effect in everything that you do, including your work.”
In 10 years, progress on this front has been both profound and incremental. After Page came out, something started happening.
“I am excited to say that I see more gay stories,” Page said. “I want to see those stories. I want to see more LGBT stories and I want to keep playing gay people.”
Page is starring opposite Julianne Moore in the movie “Freeheld,” which tells the true story of Laurel Hester (Moore) and Stacie Andree, two women who fought for their domestic partnership to be recognized by the freeholders, the legislators of Ocean County, New Jersey. Hester was a closeted detective who was dying of lung cancer when she and Andree waged a public battle so that Andree could receive Hester’s pension after she died in 2006.
Page is also producing and starring in “Lioness,” another based-on-true-life take about Marine Lance Cpl. Leslie Martz.
Page’s girlfriend, Samantha Thomas, has made appearances with her as she promotes “Freeheld,” showing up for the first time this year at the Toronto Film Festival.
“I’m bringing her with me because I’m in love with her,” Page said. “I’m going to the premiere of my movie… and it’s an extremely special and meaningful night for me. Of course I want her by my side.”
As the number of films focused on gay stories grows, the types of stories being told still remains limited. Films that enjoy big promotional budgets and also center on queer narratives truck almost exclusively in representations of queer people as oppressed minorities who are either constantly and nobly fighting for their rights, or suffering in quiet, closeted desperation. In the last 10 years alone, “Stonewall,” “The Danish Girl,” “Freeheld,” “The Imitation Game,” “TransAmerica,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Milk,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “A Single Man” have all occupied this space.
What results in popular culture is an unfinished and maudlin portrait. Of course, there’s more than just the struggles that surround being queer — they have superficial romantic drama, they can be sociopathic or clumsy and funny or terribly idiotic when it comes to fighting off space monsters, too.
“Weirdly, television has got a certain freedom… It’s just an interesting time where there’s been an ability to have more freedom, freedom to tell different stories,” Page said. “I think of ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and we’re seeing actors who otherwise we may not have had the opportunity to see, who are extraordinary, because they just don’t get opportunities. I think television honestly was just taking more risks, and they paid off.”
But by and large, we don’t see LGBT characters simply existing in movies where the story isn’t explicitly about battling the struggles of being LGBT. This is part of the reason why there was such a fuss over “The Kids Are All Right” in 2010, but it remains an exception, along with “Capote.” Page name-checked the French romance “Blue Is the Warmest Color” as another example.
Just as lead characters in “Salt” and “Our Brand is Crisis” were originally written as men before going to women (Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock, respectively), it may take similar action before we see a queer character leading a spy caper or a dinosaur movie.
“I think it’s going to happen,” Page said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen tomorrow, but I think it’s going to happen. People’s minds are changing, particularly young people. I just feel like a little bit more time’s gonna go by. Right now, it does feel like, ‘When will we see a gay superhero?’
“I think it will happen quicker than we think.”