In 2013 the Ralph J BUNCHE Center for African American Studies at UCLA found that minority actors occupy only 6.5 percent of lead roles in broadcast, scripted television. A number so small in nature, while shocking, also coincides with an overtly missing piece of mainstream media, actors and characters of color telling every ones story, not just that of the Anglo nuclear family.
When Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Kirsten Bledsoe and I sat down together to discuss the initial treatment of our newly debuted web series, Sidetrack, we had a singular goal – to represent queer women and people from all walks of life, varying ethnicities and races. We wanted to hone in on struggles queer people regularly face such as bi-phobia, familial alienation, trying to find a balance between religious and sexual identity and LGBT homelessness. Written by Kumari Upadhyaya and directed by Bledsoe, Sidetrack uses comedy as a tool to tell a story that isn’t often told. As the creators of this show we want to change the landscape of web based, mainstream queer media. Our constant nods to the L word come from a place of pride, as well as place of recognizing that the last time queer women and people were represented in main stream media, only two of the starring roles were occupied by women of color, and the characters played by these women, Bette and Kit porter, in a not so strange turn of events are related! It is unrealistic to imagine a world wherein queer people are homogenous and all queer people of color are related through familial connections.
Sidetrack was written purposely as a character driven un-serialized ten-episode season. Its intention is to maintain that any person at any time could play each episode in whichever order they please and understand what is going on in the lives of the characters. Despite dedicating the first eight episodes to singular characters, viewers will quickly realize that the lives of all the characters heavily intersect. As viewers watch our eight characters go through the ups and downs of love, relationships, religion, YouTube success, unemployment and discrimination, viewers will find that Adrienne, Allie, Asa, Camillie, Jo, Rad, Sato and Sloane will not only resonate with them, but these characters will evoke laughter, sadness, suspense and maybe even shed a few tears as their stories unfold.