Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The L Word Faces the C Word

(Link) Actress Erin Daniels discusses the research -- and emotions she went through -- preparing for her L Word character's upcoming battle against breast cancer. "Some days, I had to come home and cry and get it out of my system."

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
New York Daily News

Erin Daniels, who plays a lesbian tennis pro on Showtime's "The L-Word," approached this season of the popular drama series very carefully.

That's because she knew going in she was going to play a woman battling breast cancer.

"I did tons of research," Daniels told the Daily News. "I talked to doctors, nurses, tons and tons of people. I went online to every Web site possible. I spent time in chat rooms. I did as much of it as I could possibly handle."

Separating her real life and the life of her character, Dana Fairbanks, was key, she said.

"It was really hard," she said. "I made a concerted effort to keep my life and Dana's life very distinct. I'd go home and take an Epsom salt bath. There was a lot of spirituality involved. Some days, I had to come home and cry and get it out of my system."

Dana Fairbanks' health is one of the central story lines unfolding on the third season of the critically acclaimed Showtime drama, which follows a group of gays and lesbians living in Los Angeles. Besides Daniels, the show stars Mia Kirshner, Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Katherine Moennig, Pam Grier, Sarah Shahi and Laurel Holloman.

No surprise, the breast cancer diagnosis for Daniels' character comes as a heavy blow. But telling that story, Daniels said, was important in a show about women.

"Breast cancer is a story line that's integral to being a woman - there's no way to avoid talking about it," Daniels said. "I think it's a natural fit, and I think it's a really important story to tell.

"One of the messages," she added, "is [if you detect a breast lump] don't ignore it."

The story arc also explores medical issues that are relevant to lesbians and their partners but not to married heterosexual couples.

Those issues, as well as the love stories, the personal relationships and the everyday lives the characters lead are what make the show work, Daniels said.

"People get sucked into the show for whatever reasons - the novelty feature of hot girl-girl sex - and then three minutes into it, they want to know whether Bette [Beals] and Tina [Holloman] are going to stay together," Daniels said. "I think people watch the show because they can relate. ... This is an opportunity to show people who may not be exposed to this part of the population, and say that it doesn't really matter who you sleep with, we all go through the same [thing]."

During its run, the show has earned critical raves for emotionally charged story lines and is also noted for steamy love scenes. Conversely, some critics have slammed the show because all of the women are beautiful.

"This is a group of friends, a very specific group of friends in Los Angeles, in West Hollywood," Daniels said. "They're a specific kind of lesbian. These girls relate to each other. We can't portray every single lesbian on the face of earth. ... It's TV, it's fantasy."