The story, written by actress, comedian, TV host and writer Bridget McManus, who also plays the main role in the series, takes us into a rural Virginia to meet a young woman of 35, Maybelle Garris (Bridget McManus), who rediscovers life after spending the last few years to care for her sick mother. 20 years have passed. After the death of this one, Maybelle returns to life and takes up with her first and only love again, Della (Frances Nichols). She will therefore have to fight for the woman she loves as Della has meanwhile married to one of her colleagues but still has feelings for Maybelle.
What inspired Bridget McManus the story of Maybelle? How she dealed with this character? The actress tells us more:
Lezbelib: You wrote a new series called "Maybelle" in which you also play the main character, what inspired you this story and this character of Maybelle Garris?
Bridget McManus: I went to school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and studied drama, but I don’t typically perform in a lot of dramas. As a standup comic, I’m usually cast in comedies. I wanted to challenge myself by writing and acting in something different from what I usually do. I’m a big fan of romantic films and slice-of-life dramas, so this was my chance to both stretch myself and indulge in my favorite genres. And, let’s face it, we need more representations of lesbian lives and love! Maybelle was a way for me to do my civic duty.
I set the series in rural Virginia because I absolutely love the landscape of the south. There is a silence, which doesn’t exist when you live in a city like I do, but in that silence nature is breathing and growing. So, in a way, the show’s location was like the subtext of a conversation. A lot can be said without saying a word.
Maybelle is a product of where she grew up. She’s a good girl who takes care of her responsibilities and puts her family first. What I love about her story is that it’s not about her coming out or coping with being gay, it’s about her reclaiming her life that was put on pause because she was caring for her sick mother. There is an innocence to Maybelle that is really lovely. And unlike the south, she has no subtext. She is who she is and she wants what she wants.
Lezbelib: Although the series is about a woman who rediscovers life and tries to win back Della, the woman she loves, there is also a much more dramatic angle in the story since Maybelle lost her mother, how have you addressed the different feelings of the character, both sad and yet full of life?
Bridget: I think grief and loss can drive a person to embrace life, to live as fully as they can so they can truly feel alive. Sometimes great joy can come about as a result of great pain. Or the two can coincide. Life can be bittersweet, and I wanted to tell a realistic story about a lesbian character navigating life’s challenges as best she can. Maybelle is grieving, but she’s also hungry to rediscover her own life and to experience love again. After putting her life on hold for so long Maybelle is going full-force and I really admire her fearlessness towards love.
Lezbelib: Do you think Maybelle is perhaps the most dramatic character that you have had to play so far?
Bridget: I would definitely say Maybelle is the most earnest character I’ve ever played. The most dramatic and complicated character I’ve played was Fiona in the tellofilms drama series The Throwaways. The show focused on homeless LGBTQ youth in Chicago and I played the madam of their brat pack. The series touched on drug abuse, physical/emotional abuse and prostitution. Fiona was a real wild one with major mood swings. She was a blast, but if she were a real person I would insist she get some medical attention.
(You can learn more about "The Throwaways here: http://lezbelib.com/web-series/lesbian-web-series-the-throwaways)
Lezbelib: In the series, you particularly play alongside actress Frances Nichols (Della), how was your meeting and filming?
Bridget: I met Fran while working on another lesbian film called Jew(ish). She played my fiancé and our families practiced different religions, which caused some serious issues. Working with Fran was so great that I wrote the character of Della with her in mind. I would work with Fran again and again because she’s so damn talented. She’s also a big bright light on set. I could sit and listen to her tell stories all day. Just get me a bowl of popcorn and angle my chair toward Fran and I’m good.
Lezbelib: "Maybelle" was produced in partnership with Tellofilms, this is the fourth project you do together, can you tell us more about this partnership and working with Christin Baker who directed the series?
Bridget: Working with Christin is an ideal partnership for me as a creative person. I will pitch Christin an idea and we’ll kick it back and forth and once we iron out the specifics we go full force into production. Christin is the yin to my yang. Sometimes I’ll come up with a crazy idea and Christin will reign me back in. She was the director, I was the writer but as co-producers we had a single vision about the story. The night before our last day of shooting Christin and I were up late reworking the final scene of Maybelle to make sure the ending was organic and fulfilling for characters and the audience. I’m so lucky to have met Christin and I hope we work together until I’m old and grey or old with dyed hair.
Thank you Bridget!
If you are eager to discover "Maybelle", here is a foretaste of this new lesbian web series:
"Maybelle" is currently available on Tellofilms: https://www.tellofilms.com/series/maybelle