We caught up with internationally-renowned actress Jennifer Beals to chat about The L Word, makeup and her connection to SAPPHO...
We asked Jennifer about the groundbreaking drama series The L Word, the original which aired for 6 seasons from 2004-2009, and its sequel, The L Word: Generation Q, now in its second season.
SAPPHO: How would you describe your show to someone who has never heard of it?
Jennifer Beals: It’s like a bit browner Sex in the City only diverse sex, and different city.
SAPPHO: As an Executive Producer, what inspired you to reprise The L Word?
Jennifer Beals: Seeing how this new generation refused to let anyone define their experience with outdated words and terms was incredibly inspiring. Kate, Leisha and I knew there were more stories to tell largely because of the seismic cultural shifts that were happening in that period since The L Word had been off the air. That new generation I believe fuelled those shifts.
SAPPHO: In the 10 years between the original show and the sequel, how did your character Bette evolve?
Jennifer Beals: I think Bette tries to deal with her anger differently. She has a teenage daughter and desperately wants to make the world a better place for her. At the beginning of Season 2 of TLWGQ Bette’s also trying to come to terms with the notion that while she and Tina may be parenting together, the once-in-a-lifetime love she experienced years ago may be a thing of the past. This is I think perhaps her biggest hurdle.
SAPPHO: How did The L Word influence the LGBTQ+ community? What are your hopes on this subject for The L Word: Generation Q?
Jennifer Beals: I hope TLWGQ can offer more stories centered in the drama of love and joy—the seeking of it and the experiencing of it. I want to be able to offer up stories that are not simply reductive to the pain suffered because of a character’s gender or sexual preference, which so often used to be the case in mainstream media. I would like to give not only the LGBTQ+ community increased diverse representation and visibility but I’d like to give that to EVERYONE, period. It behooves us all to hear each others’ stories-that’s how we grow, how we enrich ourselves as individuals and as communities.
SAPPHO: Have your character's look and style changed since the last season?
Jennifer Beals: Costumes are a little more structured, less risk adverse, more “Art Bette” as Christie Wittenborn, our costumer, and I like to call her.
SAPPHO: Can you give us a few of your favourite moments in the hair and makeup trailer on The L Word?
Jennifer Beals: Not without violating unspoken NDAs. ( : I did love the bond we all had. The hair and makeup trailer was such a foundation of joy, support and deep creativity. One of my favorite moments that I think I can share was when we were shooting the final press campaign for the show, which is always a stressful time. I saw they had created this image where they were going to put all of the cast in a criminal lineup, which really hurt my heart. It felt really wrong. Joann and Cynthia Summers, our incredible costumer, helped me release my, let’s just say, very strong emotions by screaming it out in the trailer. Bette learned a thing or two on her silent retreat, as did I. I think there’s a picture of the moment in The L Word book, a book I put together of photos and cast interviews after we completed the show.
JoAnn Fowler, Founder of SAPPHO New Paradigm & MUA (left), Jennifer Beals, Actress (middle) and Cynthia Summers, Costume Designer (right).
Exploring Jennifer's connection to SAPPHO New Paradigm.
SAPPHO: How were you introduced to Sappho?
Jennifer Beals: Joann was our wonderful makeup artist for the first iteration of The L Word. When she couldn’t find clean, toxic free makeup that was silky enough for film she created her own.
SAPPHO: What does it mean to you that a foundation is named and matched for you?
SAPPHO: Which of SAPPHO’s products is your favourite?
SAPPHO: As an activist and human rights advocate, what are some of the organizations you’re involved with?
Jennifer Beals: Right now I am most actively involved with GLSEN.
Bonus: Makeup Artist Norma Patton-Lowin describes character Bette's signature makeup look
SAPPHO: Does Bette have a distinctive makeup style that differentiates her from the others?
Norma Patton-Lowin: Jennifer aka “Bette’s” style is somewhat different because she is a successful business woman & very classical in her approach to all things. She loves art & likes to experiment a little with her choice of makeup but all the while keeping it very “pulled together” in a sophisticated & professional way.
Read more! Check out our last blog post, Memories From The Hair & Makeup Trailer: The L Word Series, where our founder JoAnn Fowler reminisces on her favourite times while shooting the original series in the early 2000s.