By: Clara Lefton/TRT Reporter
The Real L Word co-stars Tracy Ryerson & Stamie Karakasidis took their relationship on-screen last January through April for Ilene Chaiken’s latest production. The couple became an instant hit with viewers and Tracy was recently named SheWired’s Gay Woman of the Year.
Despite the show’s success, the couple felt it was too difficult to continue participating on the show’s second season while balancing three children and jobs. “We’re glad they renewed the show-because visibility matters-and wish everyone the best of luck,” says Ryerson. “They are filming the second season as we speak! Cameras are following Whitney and her friends.”
Recently the two had an exclusive interview with The Rainbow Times.
Clara Lefton: How did you first hear about the show and tryout?
Tracy Ryerson: At the time, I was working behind-the-scenes for Jerry Weintraub Productions at Warner Bros. A few months prior to being asked to come in [and] I saw a press release about the Showtime show. I thought it was a great idea, but had no intention of putting my hat in the ring. Turns out that my roommate, a TV producer, an event planner, and a friend put my name in the mix and I agreed get on tape. Honestly, I had tons of questions ready to fire at the producers, but all turned quickly in the room, and the next thing I knew I was babbling on and on about my life as a lesbian living in Los Angeles. It was like I got my therapy session for free!
CL: How exactly are you involved in the film industry?
TR: As a development executive at Jerry Weintraub Productions on the Warner Bros, my job was to turn ideas into entertainment. I find unproduced screenplays or books, attach talent, package the project, and sell to a studio or network. It’s a job that requires a lot of patience, networking, and passion. I love it. Currently, I’m pitching a few reality shows, a TV series, and writing a book. Creativity excites me. It was hard to not include my professional life on camera, but I made the decision before taping that the two be very separate, due to confidentiality.
CL: Where in New Jersey are you from? Did you ever spend any portion of time in the New England area? Or were you more a New York City/New Jersey girl? What sent you across the country to California?
TR: I was born in Morristown but grew up a few miles away in Dover, NJ. I lived in Northern Jersey until I left for college in Miami.
I was definitely more of [an] NYC girl, but occasionally made my way to the slopes in Vermont for some snowboarding. Other than that, I’ve been to Provincetown and the casinos in Connecticut. I would have loved to spend some time in Boston as a kid, but my father was such a big NY Yankees fan, that we weren’t allowed to set foot on Red Sox soil. Go Yankees!
CL: Did you have a message you wanted to send, perhaps as a role model, to the queer community by participating on the show?
TR: A large part of the reason that I decided to participate was the fact that taking part in a television show like this gives you a platform to spread positivity. Since I’ve come out, I’ve been surprised to see the lack of role models in our community. Now, more than ever, we’re realizing that LGBT visibility matters. If I can help one kid who’s struggling with his or her sexuality, then I know I’ve made an impact. I enjoy challenging stereotypes and helping to show the world that we have a voice as well, but mostly, we’re just like everyone else. Equal.
CL: What’s the strangest fan experience you’ve had so far? Any that standout?
TR: There have been a few strange experiences but the one that stands out happened in Houston, TX. A young woman came up to me, got on one knee, and asked me to marry her! Stamie was also proposed to on the same trip, except that she was presented a cool ring pop.
CL: The episode featuring mom was an emotional one for viewers and yourself, has your relationship with her progressed any further since?
TR: Oh boy, that was an emotional journey! It was one of my most honest and scary moments on the show and in my life. I didn’t think my Mom would agree to participate or even be able to talk about our issues in front of producers, let alone the World, but she did! I’m so proud of her! I think it’s important for people to hear the mother’s point of view when it comes to acceptance as well. Since the show, my Mom has opened up tremendously about her feelings, but is still taking “baby steps” towards fully accepting the whole picture. She’s getting there and I’m beyond proud of her and excited to move forward. No more walking on egg shells! I hope to have many more of those “I Choose Me” moments in life!
CL: Have you pursued anymore of a modeling career since your start on the show?
TR: I like to call myself a part-time model. I wouldn’t say it’s a career path, but it’s definitely a fun challenge that I’m continuing to pursue.
CL: How did your blog “Our Fifteen Minutes” come about?
Stamie Karakasidis: When we decided to participate in the show we wanted a way to keep in touch with the fans and get to know them on a more personal level. Visibility matters and having a site where people could literally talk to each other via live chat and share their stories was something we thought would help the LGBT community. It is a tough road dealing with your sexuality and we wanted to help in any way we could.
SK: So much! Stand-up comedy is my passion. It feeds my soul and I love to see people laughing. I like to think that is my gift from God. I have been lucky enough to travel with my comedy now and am starting to be offered some writing jobs. My next big show will be performing at Girl Bar’s Dinah Shore comedy show on March 31 and I am really excited about that. Both Tracy and I will be participating in their events all weekend. I am very grateful for the exposure I have received from the show. Comedy90210.com has also been packed at my bi-monthly Thursday show in Beverly Hills.
CL: What was your first reaction when Tracy asked you to be a part of the show?
SK: I was very excited. I got all my Adidas sweatpants washed and ironed. I didn’t even have to leave my house. I love having people around and it was fun having the whole crew in your house with all their equipment and having to pretend they were not there. They kept telling me daily, “Stop talking to us, we are not here, we are invisible.” I also thought what better way to get to know Tracy than on camera? So natural, right?
CL: Whose on your Ipod currently?
SK: I am a big fan of John Meyer, XX, Pink- Love her! She always delivers a positive message in her songs. 30 Seconds to Mars, Florence and the Machine, Coldplay and my beloved Anthony Robbins and Brian Tracy. I am big on listening to self-improvement CDs. If you just learn one new thing, it will make you a better person.
CL: Where did you go to school? What did you major in? Have you always been a West Coast girl?
SK: I am originally from Philadelphia, lived in Greece from 5-8 years old. Living in Greece so early on has really made me appreciate living in the states. I love what the U.S. has to offer. You work hard and you get rewarded. Other countries don’t always offer that, especially Greece. I went to Temple University and majored in exercise physiology [but eventually] transferred to California State University at Northridge because I fell in love with my first girlfriend who was a soap star and was moving back to Los Angeles. I love the west coast and all it offers.
CL: How does your family feel about your participation on the show?
SK: My parents are Greek, greek, greek, they really haven’t watched the show. They will watch the whole season once it airs on their Greek channel. Until then, ignorance is bliss. They have met Tracy and they love her, so that’s all that matters to me.
CL: The preface of the show gave the appearance that all cast members did not know each other previous to filming – yet I’m assuming that you all must have met during promotional materials or show meetings. What was this first interaction like?
SK: It’s like when you take your doggy to the dog park. You sniff around, evaluate the situation and go from there. Luckily, we really hit it off. We are all so different, but the experience of being on The Real L Word is a bond we will share forever. It’s really a bummer they chose to not show us all hanging out, because we definitely have many camera-worthy moments.
CL: Would you say that your family’s exposure on the show has helped raise awareness about Williams Syndrome?
SK: Williams Syndrome exists but you are not aware of it unless you have met someone or your child is diagnosed. It is hard news to swallow once the doctor breaks it to you. Then as a parent you have to stop crying or thinking about the future and start focusing on the soul of the child who didn’t ask for this. So you love them and get them the best therapy and watch them grow. We are very lucky with Jagger. He
communicates, plays, has therapy, eats, is potty trained and is a very happy kid. I am glad we briefly mentioned it on the show and I am sure it has affected a few people who did watch.
Filed Under: Entertainment & Sports