As the world remains stunned by the death of entertainer Robin Williams earlier this week, it’s important to note that suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24, according to the Trevor Project. LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their than their straight peers; and suicide attempts are more likely to result in injury that requires medical treatment. Actress Magda Apanowicz, best-known for her work on series such as Continuum, Kyle XY and Hellcats, stars in a new film A Reason (currently playing at U.S. film festivals) as Serena, a young lesbian woman. With this character Apanowicz explores the world of what it’s like to attempt suicide and fail. Trapped in a house with her conservative grandmother, played by actress Marion Ross (Happy Days), Serena is forced to confront her family about her sexuality and stand up to the manipulations of her narcissistic brother, played by Nick Eversman (Pretty Boy), who uses her suicide attempt to control her. Queerty caught up with the actress, prior to Williams’ death, to discuss the film and its possible impact on LGBT youth.
How did you, as a straight girl, come to play a suicidal lesbian?
Actors love stepping in to other peoples’ skin no matter how scary, it’s what we wanna do. This movie gave me the opportunity to give my soul and give my whole self and actually act in a role that I don’t normally get to act in.
It used to be that straight actors were afraid to take on gay roles for fear they’d be pigeon-holed. Is that no longer the case?
For me it’s definitely always great finding new and interesting stories especially with gay and lesbian characters. It makes me super happy to see the world become more accepting of gays and it’s crazy that it has ever even been an issue. But I was lucky and I grew up in Vancouver and I was raised super liberal and saw gay people my whole life. When I was young we would go down to the gay pride parade. So, when my agents sent me out on the audition, I felt like I could really play this person. I definitely felt that the moment I saw the sides I could deliver this story.
How did you prepare for the part?
Basically for me, reading the script and understanding where the pain in my character was coming from felt like an easy fit. I mean I can relate to the pain and wanting to live in the world yet being scared and wanting it all to be over. My character struggles with trying to find purpose yet no one understands her and people don’t understand her for who she is or where she’s coming from. I could really relate to where she was coming from and how she was just screaming in pain.
Would you play a similar role again?
Believe it or not, I played a lesbian directly after I shot this film [in Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno].
Do you think this movie will be of help to LGBT and questioning youth?
There aren’t as many stories out there that deal specifically with [gay] suicide. Nor the concept of everybody coming at you from all angles in the way it happens in this film. It totally makes your own mind muted out, you know? Where mom tells you your one way, then someone else says you’re another way. But it demands the question what you’re supposed to tell yourself? Everyone else has all these opinions about us but it doesn’t matter when we let the voices outside out heard be louder than our inner one. And this is really about standing up for who you are and walking away from those who are most destructive but don’t even know it. It’s very “enough is enough” and “stand up on your own two feet.” And it’s very rare that you get that lightning in bottle moment. The reason why it’s such a wonderful story [is because it’s] for someone who is afraid to come out in the world. For Serena she was so scared she didn’t know what was wrong and she discovered she had a voice and there is so much to her. So yes, it is for people who need that catharsis.
She seems lovely. Will see this.
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