Guinevere Turner, an American actress, and screenwriter played Diana in the 1996 film Watermelon Woman, a film that follows a young Black lesbian as she tries to make a film about a Black actress known as the “Watermelon Woman.” Now, Turner discusses the film and what it represented, and why intersectionality was important then and is still important now. She says that when the film came out, it got a lot of attention, but she says after all of these years, it is still having a “moment right now.” She also notes that now the director, Cheryl Dunye, is receiving a lot of attention and many are looking back and cannot believe her film is the first feature film to be directed by a Black lesbian.
The Watermelon Woman (1996) dir. Cheryl Dunye pic.twitter.com/6lxvoDt4cC
— 🇵🇸 (@fitnfuII) August 1, 2021
When asked about being in a film as a character who was an open lesbian in the 90s and how it compares to today, she says that her manager told her she should stop playing those roles or she would be stuck playing only those roles. To this, Turner explains how it was more than just a role but her identity, and that managers would not say this out loud today, even if they thought it. “They would find a different way to say it” she explained. She also says it is different now as there are a lot more queer characters in shows and movies, and many look at including it as a “badge of honor or a cool thing to do.”
I love THE WATERMELON WOMAN so much, every time I assign it, I find myself scrutinizing the VHS boxes here with love, desire, and nostalgia (TLA Video Philly!)–only just realized you can see CHAN IS MISSING, which I also assigned earlier in the semester. six degrees of syllabus! pic.twitter.com/IBxd2ZQaGl
— whit strub (@whitstrub) April 26, 2021
And although inclusivity is a great thing, she says that she can tell when a queer character is “tacked on” and only included so that people will see the show as inclusive. She notes that while she loves to see the LGBT characters, some of the characters might not have a huge role in the show or movie and are only placed to appease people.
This week on #CultureQ, top queer moments at the #Oscars, @JonathanBennett's new marriage to @JaymesV, our interview with @turnerguinevere and an update on WNBA's Brittney Griner. Finally, we celebrate #transvisibility day. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜@SharSaysSo @JamesWallington pic.twitter.com/6jcjW4kIEd
— Revry (@REVRYTV) March 30, 2022
If you have not done so already, you can watch “Watermelon Woman” or watch the entirety of the interview with Revry’s Culture Q here.