By Mwabi Kaira
Imagine, 18 years ago, before ‘Queer As Folk,’ ‘The L Word,’ or ‘Noah’s Arc,’ a film centered around the lives of four black lesbian women navigating friendship and love. The name of the film was, ‘A Luv Tale,’ it was written, directed and produced by Sidra Smith, and it starred Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Gina Ravera (Soul Food), Michele Lamar Richards (The BodyGuard), and Angela Means (Friday). Shown at a host of film festivals, it was a fan favorite that won many awards, including the Audience Award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Now streaming on amazon for the past month, ‘A Luv Tale’ is racking up record breaking viewership numbers- with no advertising- and a perfect 5 star rating.Though it was a bit ahead of its time then, the timing couldn’t be more perfect now. Just look at Lena Waithe's Emmy-Win for the ‘Master Of None’ episode she co-wrote based off of her real life experience coming out as a lesbian. She received a standing ovation from the star-studded audience, and gave a big shoutout to the LGBTQ community. Yes, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn’t is the lack of content representing this diverse community.
|Wrap party for 'A Luv Tale' 1999, (left to right) Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Holly Joy, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Gina Ravera, and Sidra Smith|
While Sidra has kept busy throughout the years since creating ‘A Luv Tale’- she was a film and TV casting director, and producer of the NAACP Award-winning documentary ‘Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,’- fans have never stopped asking what happened next given ‘A Luv Tale’s juicy cliffhanger ending. Well, now they get to find out!
With the advancement of digital programming that wasn’t available back when ‘A Luv Tale’ the movie was released, along with the triumphs and challenges facing the LGBTQ community that are rarely highlighted, Sidra is now bringing ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ via the web. And she’s launched an Indiegogo campaign so that those who support the LGBTQ community and want to see this type of content, can contribute by giving as little as $10 or play a much bigger role by becoming an executive producer.
Just recently, we caught up with Sidra to hear all about the campaign, so get comfortable and listen in!
Curly Nikki: What was the inspiration behind writing “A Luv Tale’ 18 years ago?
Sidra Smith: I didn’t really see anything that represented queer women of color and I kept asking myself, what would that story look like? And how could it be told in a way that didn’t feel like a ‘gay’ story filled with stereotypical views. Winning the audience award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival spoke volumes to me because this was not an LGBTQ festival, the audience enjoyed the story and connected with the characters because they were great characters.
Curly Nikki: ‘A Luv Tale’ was before the TV Series, ‘The L Word’ which many felt was the first lesbian TV series. And although Bette, the lead character was biracial, it was geared towards a white audience. During that time was there any interest for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series for women of color to enjoy?
Sidra Smith: ‘The L Word’ and ‘Noah’s Arc’ definitely made it feel possible for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series. People who saw the film always wanted to know what happened next but I was never approached to do a series back then. The current digital platforms available have made it very possible now and the timing is right.
Curly Nikki: What are the noticeable changes in the LGBTQ community from 1999 when a ‘A Luv Tale’ was released and present day?
Sidra Smith: Visibility and openness in a positive and welcoming way are very present now for sure. Gay characters in TV and Film were not visible. Now they are and I want to highlight them in A Luv Tale: The Series. Our lead characters are an artist, model, advertising exec and a musician. Think 'Sex and The City' meets 'Insecure.' It’s going to be fun to explore and share their worlds.
Curly Nikki: We live in a fast-paced digital world where the audience has more power than ever before with platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Did fans of ‘A Luv Tale’ make their voice heard and ask for the series?
Sidra Smith: I can’t tell you how many requests on social media and emails I get from people on a daily basis asking for more. The film was shown at festivals and I sold VHS tapes there as well, that was the only way to see it. Fans still show me pictures of their VHS tapes. So yes, I was definitely motivated by the fans.
Curly Nikki: Why an Indiegogo campaign? Why not go directly to networks?
Sidra Smith: Indiegogo is another platform that allows me to take my campaign directly to the fans to get the series made. In addition to having the creative freedom.
Curly Nikki: Talk about ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ and what your hope for the series is.
Sidra Smith: The series will be set and shot in Harlem with an entirely new cast of fresh talent, picking up where the film left off. The series will continue to explore love and friendship between women of color who happen to be gay, through a world filled with fabulous art, music and fashion. I plan on showing today’s Harlem Renaissance. I can’t wait to tell the story again in this way. My hope is that it is as well received now, as it was then.
To contribute to the campaign or learn more, visit here!
What do you think? Are we ready for a LGBTQ web series?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world. She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993. Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy. She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon. Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/