Self-assured, raw, free, unapologetic. These are just a few words that describe the talented and ambitious, Astrid Ovalles.
Ms. Ovalles is a genuine film maker who shares stories both in front of the lens and behind. While continuing to be a positive role model for the LGBTQ community, Ms. Ovalles frequently interacts with her fans on social media and isn’t afraid to keep it real.
I recently had the privilege to chat with Ms. Ovalles about her films, her art, and keeping sane during the pandemic. Check out the interview below!
Gabrielle Bisaccia: You write, direct, produce, act, paint, and pose; a jack of all trades. Is there one discipline that you enjoy the most?
Astrid Ovalles: I would say acting. Painting is who I am and a part of my personality; I don’t really consider that to be a trade. When it comes to film making, I enjoy acting the most and the reason I started directing was because I wanted to act in roles that would be good for myself.
GB: Do you share your paintings on social media or in galleries?
AO: I’ve done gallery showings. The paintings I’ve made I’ve always sold privately. I don’t like to post my paintings; to me, painting is more private than everything else and it’s very special to me. My paintings are something just for me and whoever ends up with it. They take me a long time; I do photo-realistic paintings so each can take me anywhere from a year to three years.
GB: You seem very transparent on your social media accounts, and I think that resonates with your fans. What compels you to be so authentic?
AO: I don’t think I can help myself! I’m a terrible liar and I strongly dislike when somebody I look up to, or somebody I like as a peer, seems to be fake or they’re not telling you the whole truth. I don’t ever want to say something that is untrue or exaggerated or conceal parts of myself that might help somebody else. I just want to be a human being. I think the person I am isn’t fully my persona on social media because there are aspects of myself that I don’t really like to share with other people, so I keep that private. But as far as me as a person, I don’t want to be fake, and I’ve never really been into pretending to be anyone. My work should speak for itself and once it’s done, it’s separate from who I am.
GB: Is there a lesbian icon that you identify with or that you look up to?
AO: When I think of role models, I usually look up to women in general. Women who are friends of the community and women who are champions to other women; that’s important to me. I do like Sarah Paulson because she seems real. I like that she just started dating women without making a big deal out of it. I like her content. What she makes is raw and stripped of vanity.
GB: What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie?
AO: Aimee & Jaguar. I like Tipping the Velvet as well, but Aimee & Jaguar I’ve watched a million times and the performances really stuck with me. I like that it’s based on a true story and wasn’t about celebrities or glitz and glamour. I like that it was very much a story about humanity and the conflict was real.
GB: I’d like to talk about Camp Belvidere. You wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this film which was released in 2014 and set in the late 1950s. In recent years, period piece lesbian films have really dominated the lesbian content realm. Camp Belvidere was somewhat of a trend-setter in this regard. What inspired you to tell this story and to set the film in the 1950s?
AO: I didn’t really think too much about the time period. I wanted to make something that was a resemblance of the Pulp Novels. If you’ve read the Pulp Novels, you know they were extreme when it came to conflict and emotion. The barrier that was there between the romance was very strong as well as the self-hatred and self-loathing homophobia within the characters. These characters were overly sexualized, almost like a caricature. I wanted to see that in a movie and challenge myself to make a cartoon, an exaggerated version of those stories. The best way to do that was to set it in a time when being gay wasn’t acceptable. If you were to make a modern-day romance of the same style, the stakes wouldn’t be as high because it’s much more acceptable to be gay now. I read a lot of novels in preparation for this film and most involved nurses because of the war. They also included women who figured out they liked their friends more than they thought; that was just very enticing to me.
GB: Road of Bygones was very raw and dealt with issues most of us tend to shy away from- primarily Kink and BDSM. Was this story cathartic for you?
AO: I thought it would be, but it was a little disheartening. When I introduced the concept to the LGBTQ community, it got a lot of backlash because people thought it was a form of abuse. I didn’t get to promote the movie because a lot of people didn’t want to see Kink portrayed as something that lesbians would do or be into, or to even portray a woman enjoying physical pain. The writing of it was cathartic before I knew how it would be received. However, the reception was not cathartic for me; it actually made me go deeper into the closet. I find myself not talking about Kink anymore to the public or on social media.
GB: Your production company is called Recluse Films. By definition, a recluse is a person who lives a solitary life and tends to avoid other people. Is there some significance behind the name?
AO: It’s not who I am anymore, but when I was very young, I was quiet and extremely reserved. I remember everyone trying to get me to be extroverted and to talk about my feelings. I was reclusive in many ways. Up until recently I haven’t felt comfortable speaking openly about myself. I wanted to take something that people saw as a negative trait in me and turn it into something extraordinary. It was almost like getting back at people; I wanted to make my achievements under this name, as it was symbolic to me as a person.
GB: You feature your adorable dog in a lot of your social media. What can you tell us about her?
AO: She’s a rescue Pitbull and she’s lovely! When my wife and I finally decided that we were going to get a dog, we wanted a little dog because she had never had a dog before. When we got to the shelter, all the dogs were jumping and being wild, but ours was just very quietly laying there. She came up to us and put her nose under the fence and touched my hand with her little paw and I don’t know how anyone can walk away from that! I just adore her. We trained her right away and made her a therapy dog. I ride my bike with her, I go for runs with her, we go to the beach together; she goes everywhere with us!
GB: How have you been keeping busy and staying sane during the pandemic?
AO: The first three months when everything was closed and a lot of people lost their jobs was scary. I think everyone can relate to that. Right now, I’m writing a script, but it’s difficult to write when you can’t go out and experience life because so much of writing is having experiences.
GB: What can you tell us about your latest project?
AO: I’m still writing it. I know where it’s going but it could take many different shapes. When you’re working with a budget, a lot of it is how do I make this story possible. I’m still developing it, but it has elements of the fantasy genre. I want it to be different and very artistic. Music is a very big part of it as I want it to revolve around that. As soon as I have a script, I’ll talk to the composer who did Road of Bygones. It will definitely be an all-female cast with three female protagonists who happen to be lesbians.