Aryka Randall on her “Femme” docuseries coming this fall

AE: Going back to something you said earlier; you’re more of a stud with your personality, but you present as femme. I really like that you pointed that out. I identify as femme–I like to wear feminine clothes, getting my nails done, doing my make up, etc.–but my personality is a lot more dominant than my appearance might suggest; I’m an alpha female. I’ve never understood how those two things can’t go together.  Seeing a feminine woman with a take charge personality is unexpected for some. I don’t get it.  There’s strength in my femininity.  That’s probably why people call you a stud because you’re a powerful woman. And feminine women aren’t supposed to be powerful.

AR: Right. You should see–it’s hilarious. I’ll go out with my friends who are studs and a stud will come up to me and try to talk to me.  My stud friends will be like ,“No, she’s one of us.” 

AE: My wife is actually butch presenting. We’re both alpha females, which can be interesting in the context of a relationship. But the way she carries herself can be more feminine sometimes. She uses her hands a lot when she communicates and she’s all about her clothes and her hair, but she’s in guys’ clothes with short hair. 

AR: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the word “perspective.” It’s serious; it’s a motherfucker. People just think I’m stuck up; they probably think I’m one of those girls that want to be pampered. I’m not that girl. People perceive things how they really want to. It’s kind of ignorant.

 

AE: More times than not, it’s more a reflection of them than it is of you.

AR: Exactly.

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AE: I noticed Chanel Brown from The Real L Word in the trailer. I recognized her immediately. I’m excited to see her in the upcoming episodes. She was probably one of my favorites, even though she didn’t have a huge part. I thought she was one of the most down to earth and real cast members. And, of course, she’s drop dead gorgeous.  How did you connect with her?

AR: I met her through Saj [Sajdah Golde, cast member of The Real L Word].  I was doing an interview with Saj for my blog. Later, I went to LA for a Real L Word party and, the day before, we all had lunch.  Chanel and I just hit it off. To be completely honest, I’m not friends with Saj anymore, but Chanel is one of my closest friends. She’s awesome. That’s my “Charlotte.”  She’s so much like Charlotte from Sex and the City.

 

AE: I love it! Actually, that doesn’t surprise me a bit. I can totally see that.

AR: Yeah, she’s really funny and she’s very sweet natured, very down to earth, very real. But she’s a hard ass, especially when it comes to relationships. She’s not nearly as forgiving as I am. She’ll write a list of things you can do to mess up and, if you do one of them, that’s it. 

 

AE: That’s funny. Well, I look forward to seeing her in the series. Speaking of cast members who is your favorite Femme cast member?

AR: I don’t know; that’s hard. Actually, I think my favorite is probably Natasha and her girlfriend. Natasha is very interesting. Number one, she’s a femme, but she’s dominant a little bit. And she’s a tattoo artist and you don’t find a lot of gay, femme tattoo artists. She has a really, really nice shop off of Canal St in New Orleans.

 

AE: That’s so awesome!  My wife is a tattoo artist; we actually own a shop!

AR: Really? Oh, yeah, you’ll love Natasha’s story. What I think was so inspiring about her is that she was going to school; she completed everything to have a career in sports medicine. She did that and decided it wasn’t for her. So, her girlfriend took the money that she’d set aside to purchase a home and gave it to Natasha to pursue her dream. I just thought that was phenomenal. They’re both very interesting. They’re raising an eight year old daughter together. They’re both Buddhists. They’re just really awesome, both of them. 

 

AE: I can’t wait to see them. Being a woman in the tattoo industry is easier than it used to be, but it’s still difficult to break in and to be taken seriously. And being gay only makes it harder. My wife and I are always looking to support and celebrate other female artists. I’m excited to see her! I had no idea you had a tattooer in the show. That ups the ante for me.

AR: I actually sat down and drew up who I wanted to be cast. Everybody’s story is so different, and that’s really what I wanted to be the takeaway. All these girls identify as femme, but look at how different they are.

 

AE: It’s not cookie cutter. You have a diverse cast and you had an idea of who you wanted.  How comfortable are you with them representing something you created? The Fab Femme and Femme are probably like your babies. You’ve probably spent a lot of time and made a lot of sacrifices to ensure their success. These girls are new faces of what you do. Did you ensure they would accurately represent your vision?

AR: I’m nosy, so I find things out about people through social media and asking around. Natasha and her girlfriend live in New Orleans and New Orleans is small. I was literally able to make a few phone calls and find out what type of people they were. As funny as it sounds, I really go off of my gut sometimes. I just trust my instincts. I really do trust my gut instincts. I screen people; I did an interview with them beforehand. I also had them write a bio explaining what they think is interesting about themselves. I paid attention to how it was written. Also, the best thing that I have learned to do is require people to do things up front. It really weeds out all the lazy people fast. 

 

AE: What are your views on femme visibility? Are you happy with the amount of media representation femme queer women are receiving? 

AR: I do think that, to an extent, we’re misrepresented. Sometimes they do a good job. I love The Fosters, I love The L Word, I love Orange is the New Black. But, when I get to certain shows and movies like The Kids Are All Right–it really pissed me off.

 

AE: Oh my gosh, I almost got up and walked out of the theater.

AR: Yeah, she couldn’t stay away from the guy. It’s such a cliché. There’s a show called The Game that had a femme/femme couple. I was so excited to watch it. The next thing you know, she’s run off with some guy by, like, the fourth episode. You’ve gotta be kidding me. That kind of stuff I don’t like, but I do think that it’s getting better when it comes to including feminine-identified women on TV. It’s usually a decent portrayal.

 

AE: When it comes to the story of a femme queer woman leaving her girlfriend for a man, it does happen–we can’t deny that. But I want the media to take a little more responsibility because that’s what the world already expects us to do. Let’s tell a different story because that one doesn’t represent all of us. The world already knows that story; they know all about that. So, let’s tell a new one that represents those of us who haven’t been shown up until now. Maybe I expect too much.

AR: That’s why I do the work I do.

 

AE: What can we expect from you in the future? Are you focused on Femme right now or do you already have plans for what’s happening next?  I think I know the answer to this.

AR: Okay, well, I actually have a book deal in the works.

 

AE: That’s so exciting!  Congratulations!

AR: Thank you! It kind of came out of left field. I’ve been going back and forth with publishers in Miami, sending them samples of table of contents. Two nights ago, I submitted a draft of the first chapter. The book is going to be geared toward dating and it’s called She’s Just Not That Into You. I was driving and it just popped into my head. It’s kind of funny and sarcastic, but it’s really about finding yourself, figuring yourself out before you try to get into a relationship. It will never work until you figure yourself out completely. So, I have that going on. I’m, of course, wrapping up the docuseries. I plan on finishing Girl Play next year.

 

AE: And not sleeping at all. You don’t have sleep on your calendar.

AR: No, never. I’m blogging on my lunch because I work a regular job. The goal is so I don’t have to work a regular job. It’s crazy, but it’ll get there. It just takes time. So, those are the biggest things. I’m also relaunching my blog on September 1st. It’s going to be a little bit more structured. I’m going to present it a little more magazine style. I just want to have more original content; that was the original goal. But when I first started blogging, I couldn’t get anyone to do an interview; no one wanted to be a contributing writer.  Now that a couple of years have gone by and I have a bigger platform for myself, I can get back to the original outline. 

One other thing that’s very exciting: I’m going to be working with a group called Pleazzure Island. There’s going to be an event in Galveston, Texas next year. Some promoters from Austin–Lesbutante and the Boss–reached out to me. I’m going to be their media person. The event will be a two or three day Pride event. Galveston is awesome; I love Galveston. These girls are awesome; they’re also doing the official Pride parties for Austin. Their vision is spot on.  I love working with them. 

I’m interested to see how people will react to Femme. All the cast members were very honest about themselves. I commend everybody for being so honest. 

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