Out actress Mandahla Rose on her starring role in the lesbian road trip romp “All About E”

Since we told you about All About E a few months back, the hype around the film has just continued to grow. The movie focuses on E (played by out actress Mandahla Rose), a former clarinet player and present-day DJ on the run from her dirtbag boss with her gay best friend Matt (Brett Rogers) and a bag full of cash. Oh, and she’s got suffocating Lebanese parents and an ex-lover named Trish (Julia Billington) whose memory continues to haunt her.


We spoke with Mandahla ahead of her trip to New York City for the December 2 screening of All About E. We talked about everything from her own musical talents to how she drew from a past relationship to play the role of E. She also got very detailed about the ins and outs of the film’s noteworthy sex scene. You’re welcome.


AfterEllen.com: Had you ever had any interest in doing a road movie before reading the script for All About E? Obviously Thelma & Louise comes to mind, but were you a fan of the genre?

Mandahla Rose: So I’m a fan of Thelma & Louise, but I really didn’t know that it was such a huge genre. When I actually auditioned for the part, I didn’t audition for it wanting the road movie in particular. It was the story of E herself that I was drawn to. And then the fact that it was a road movie ended up being a hell of a lot of fun anyway. It’s my first one, and I really enjoyed it.


AE: You said it was the story of E that caught your interest. What about it in particular?

MR: The thing that I saw about E was that, yeah, she’s trying really hard to please everyone and she’s really, really lost, but there’s a softness and a gentleness about her that I really wanted to be able to portray and tell her story, so that people wouldn’t just see her as the bad girl. They would see her as someone who had just kind of hit a speed bump in her life and realized that if she didn’t actually take the steps that she needed to then she wouldn’t become that person that she needed to be.


AE: At the beginning of the movie, it’s clear E is living much more for others than she’s living for herself. For example, she wants to make her parents proud and she wants to keep her boss at bay by continuing to bring in the profit. What do you think makes an otherwise charismatic character like her get to that point?

MR: I actually resonate with her about that. A lot of my life I was constantly trying to please everyone else, and not quite sure how to please everyone but do what I wanted to do as well. I think with E it’s just she’s constantly not able to be herself and she’s not able to actually live her life. Because if she lives her life, her parents won’t be happy. If she actually does what she wants to do and play the clarinet, her boss won’t be happy.

Mandahla Rose in ALL ABOUT E - Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video.jpg

AE: It might be hard for people who haven’t watched the movie to understand that we’re still talking about someone who’s very charismatic and isn’t a doormat by any means, but does have this behavior when it comes to some of the authority figures in her life.

MR: Exactly. And I think sometimes it’s easy to make someone happy. I think a lot of people in life can go through their life and do what other people want and convince [themselves] that that is what they actually want to do, but not really sure if it is or not.


AE: Personally speaking, I’m a child of immigrant parents, so I get where E’s coming from in wanting her parents to be proud of her. Just about everyone does want to impress their parents, but for children of immigrants I feel that there’s that added pressure of fitting in and finding yourself while not wanting to reject your parents either. How much do you think that informs E and her actions?

MR: I think for E, being that she is now an only child, it’s really important for her to please her parents. But she knows that whatever she does, she can’t anyway. There’s that want, I think, no matter where you come from, to want to make the people who brought you into this world proud of you.

It’s interesting because I don’t have family. I’m actually a foster kid myself. So that whole Lebanese background or the family strictness that some families have, I’ve not experienced before. But my ex-girlfriend is Russian and we were together for three and a half years. And being a secret was part of that story and it was something that I had to live with. It wasn’t until I started playing E and telling her story that I realized how hard it was for my ex to actually–even the thought of coming out to her parents was incredibly scary because being an only child, because her brother also died at a very young age, it was kind of like it made me realize that it’s not all about me. It was actually just really hard on her to be able to tell her parents about her sexuality.