• Azka Nawal

To be Hetero or Not to be Hetero

Watch your feeds, everyone: The Gay-Straight Alliance is coming.

A brand new web series, Hetero is spunky, hilarious, heartwarming, and best of all, everyone is gay and no one dies. Co-directed by KJ Kieras and Bentley Eldrige, and starring Sabina Etschied, Jubilee Lopez, Adriane Watson, Jonah Blue, Eden Blanford and Mckensie Shea, Hetero follows a group of teenagers who are forced to work together with their school’s straight population after a passionate defense of Shakespeare’s gayness gets them in trouble and threatens to ruin their club. This week, Ogma interviewed the cast (Jubilee, Jonah and Mckensie) to find out more!

What initially drew you to Hetero?

Mckensie: The writing. The writing is fast-paced, current, and very funny.

Jubilee: I was drawn to the Pilot because my character, Sarai, was specifically written for a young Latina. It was refreshing to feel seen by the writing and casting instead of having the role be "racially open" or "seeking POC."

Jonah: Right from reading the synopsis, I could see how spectacular and impactful the project was going to be. I'm very lucky that I got to be a part of this, because I think it is going to change the world and I have thought that from the get-go.

As I scrolled through the behind the scenes photos on your website, I thought, “Oh, it looks like so much fun!”. Could you tell me what your first day on set was like, or one of your favourite moments while filming?

Jonah: On my first day I had a scene with Jubilee and I was extremely nervous. But then we got into it and I relaxed and had a lot of fun.

Jubilee: Some of my favorite moments were while we were all getting into costume and makeup. Eden and Adriane are incredibly talented makeup artists and were always showing me how they work their magic. Also, the classroom & GSA scenes were entertaining to shoot because we needed to keep the energy super high. All the messing around and whispering and passing notes was fun to indulge in. I got to be a disruptive class clown in an exaggerated way that I never had the guts to in real life.

One thing I noticed while watching the first scene was the sense of camaraderie between all of you. How did you achieve that?

Jubilee: The first time I was on set (shooting a scene where Sarai picks Quinn up for school), Sabrina and I were meeting for the second time in person—the first being in callbacks—but we had been working together for almost four months in Zoom rehearsals. It was a funny mixture of knowing someone from Zoom and also pretending to be best friends with a stranger at the same time. I think the rehearsal time combined with the doomsday vibe of the whole world (re: pandemic) meant that we were pretty isolated from the rest of the world except for each other.

Jonah: By getting all of us shoved on top of each other in the trunk of a car. Somehow it worked because now I love them all so much and I got to know how they are all talented and kind human beings.

What are some ways you connected with your character? Are there any traits or quirks that you’ve taken home with you, or any of your own traits that you’ve given to the character?

Mckensie: Because I’m a little bit older than my character, and because my character has a very similar story to my own, I found myself bringing a lot of my younger self to her. I think that’s why I have so much love for Olivia, she taught me how to hold and forgive my younger self.

Jubilee: I connected to Sarai by reflecting on how I act when I’m with my closest friends and we go into “group mode.” She always needs to have a witty comeback or to speak for the group in a way that makes her friends laugh, sometimes at the expense of the other person, which I think can be true of me as well. Her defense mechanisms and eye rolls are all me.

Jonah: I drew inspiration from Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You and Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine. If I could capture even a percentage of what those actors produced in their work, I will be happy.

What scene (or scenes!) are you most excited for people to see from season 1?

Jubilee: I am excited to share the scene when the group is supporting Sarai at church, because Kendall captured so much experience and heart and big themes of the show in that moment. I know it will be meaningful for the audience and myself to watch back.

Jonah: Any of the whole group scenes, those were my favorite to film.

Recently I watched something regarding Chloe Zhao’s Oscar win, and whether or not it was a moment or a movement. In regards to Hetero, would you like people to see it as a moment, or as a movement?

Mckensie: I saw Chloe Zhao’s win as a result of the Academy expanding its membership to include more women and more people of color. In 2012, it was nearly 90% old white men. Gross. After the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite Twitter campaign, it shifted enough to include 46% women, and 41% people of color. This is a movement, but we still have a long way to go. Hetero is contributing to the same movement simply by being a film project created and produced by queer people. Queer people, people of color, and women have always been making films, it’s just finally being recognized.

Jubilee: I’d like to think of Hetero as a movement because while a moment can pass, the momentum of Hetero has already and will continue to make waves, and inspire people far beyond what the creators imagined when they were creating something for themselves. All of the cast and crew are just getting started and I know that our work will continue to center queer and POC narratives because that is representative of who we are and what we care about.

Is there anything you can tell us about season 2?

Jonah: I wish!

Hetero and its team are currently crowdfunding for a second season. Find their fundraiser page here.