Creating stories with Jen Richards and Laura Zak
If you think about it, the story of being queer is about creating a different love story: it’s being who you want to be and loving who you really want. That’s the story Jen Richards and Laura Zak want to tell us with their web series, Her Story
Jen Richards and Laura Zak: a dynamic duo
However, though Her Story is about a relationship between a transgender woman and a cisgender lesbian, the story of Jen Richards and Laura Zak is slightly different.
Jen and Laura met while working on the set of another queer series, #Hashtag, and became good friends.
In a funny twist of fate, their characters in that series had a certain though brief chemistry, which made them think about a possible story like that.
In real life, the two didn’t get together like their characters in Her Story. However, their inidivdual stories are still interesting enough to relate.
Jen Richards: the advocate
Jen Richards, who plays Violet in Her Story, has always fought for transgenders in whatever way she can, being one herself.
From co-founding and directing The Trans 100 (an annual list of the most influential trans trendsetters) to creating the We Happy Trans website that celebrates positive transgender experiences, she does this because she wants to let other transgenders know that they are not alone.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Jen said, ““Finding community is always the key. I think the single biggest difference is having other trans people to talk to. I found people through Twitter, that’s how I first found other trans people and a lot of the people I met are now my closest friends in real life.”
“I just think that is a huge factor in terms of mental health, of access to resources, of navigating something that can be very, very difficult. I think it’s true for anyone of any age group just to find direct proof that you aren’t alone, that there are people who have gone through this, who are going through this. And as with any other community we often find that giving back to others we find the greatest peace and place in ourselves,” she added.
Laura Zak: the activist
Laura Zak, on the other hand, plays Allie, the cisgender lesbian. Laura– like Jen– has also done her share of the struggle, from serving eight years as Campaign Manager for Eve Enseler’s V-Day (a global movement to end violence against women and girls) to helping orchestrate the One Billion Rising campaign in 2013.
Moreover, she co-created, co-wrote, and produced the series #Hashtag where the duo first met.
Speaking of her friendship with Jen, Laura told The Mary Sue: “It is stunning to reflect on how much I’ve learned from the people I’ve met over the last two years, starting with but not limited to my friendship with Jen. A lot of the things that I specifically learned about the trans experience, you will see play out on-screen.”
“Even though we are most excited for members of the trans and queer communities to watch this content, this is at core a simple love story that has the potential to resonate with many people. By the final scene, we hope it is the emotional impact of the characters’ journeys, and not necessarily the gender identity or sexuality of these characters, that registers with our audience,” she said.
Want to read more about Jen Richards and Laura Zak? Check out this month’s issue of Lesbian News for our interview with the pair!