Breeda Wool – The Faith Diaries
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) You have The Faith Diaries out right now which is on lifetime.com and you also have film that’s coming up at Tribeca. Are those the most recent projects that we are getting to see?
A) Yeah, that’s what’s happening this month in my life. These two projects are coming out, it’s such a strange thing because you do a project and then it comes out months or even years later. It’s so interesting because they are coming out now and my relationships and these roles and these worlds were from a few months ago. Or even from AWOL, I was shooting that film for years so it’s kind of a weird queer dissatisfaction, pun intended, when you show people. Because the sensation with everyone else is you’ve just done it but in fact it was brewing for a long time.
Q) I’m excited about The Faith Diaries because everybody fell in love with your character through “UnREAL.” What do you think drew her character to so many people?
A) Right off the bat I would think it’s Sarah Shapiro and Marti Noxon’s creation. First and foremost, they created a world called “UnREAL.” And then I remember Sarah Shapiro sat me down the week I arrived in Canada because we shot in Vancouver [They’re actually shooting in Vancouver Season 2 right now. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman keeps Facetiming me from set and it’s awesome. I have to defer to him whenever I cut my hair or buy any sort of clothing, I have to FaceTime him while he’s on set]. Sarah sat me down at this cocktail party, she told me my whole story as Faith and I literally cried. Sarah Shapiro is a really gifted storyteller and I think what I identified with when I was hearing it, I mean it’s hard for me because I’m always thinking from the story as opposed to if I was reading a book I would sort of listen to it. When I know that it’s my story I dream up a different dream than if I was watching a show, I think of it as if it was my point of view. They said ‘’Well what do you want to do in between the seasons’’ and Sarah said ‘’I want to follow the Faith story.’’ And I think it was an important story for her and for me because the subject matter of coming out is depicted very frequently as you either tell everyone that you’re gay or you don’t. But the process of coming out to yourself, to God, to your family, these are all different stages. And I think that we are all very interested in telling a story about the process of coming out in many different ways, in front of many different people including yourself.
Q) I think it’s interesting too, but obviously your character’s name is Faith and there’s a big religious aspect as well.
A) The religious aspect is very important, especially in the LGBT community. You have things in society and you have places like Mississippi that are trying to not be able to hire or sell to the LGBT community. But then there was an adoption law that just passed that said that gay married couples can adopt children. There’s a lot of human rights barriers that are very obvious to the gay community but I think that something that isn’t talked about is people in the LGBT community and their relationship to God. And when you come from a church and a community that is saying that God will condemn you, that was just a subject that was very fascinating for me. It was also very fascinating for me because I wasn’t raised religious at all so I had to understand what it would be like to believe in God and then be rejected by God. It was a long road.
Q) What do you think it is about this character that resonated then with so many people?
A) I don’t know. I can tell you what my mom told me. My mom called me after she watched The Faith Diaries and she goes, ‘’I love you, you’re my daughter there’s no competition there, but I really, really, really love Faith.’’ My mom is a brilliant lady, she’s an academic and throughout my career her input has been some of the most fascinating over the years. She felt like when she was watching me as Faith that the story of coming out of an environment and changing your life while being simultaneously very smart and unbelievably naive, that navigation is the story of an underdog. When you are taking steps in your life to change it for the better and watching somebody do that from a place of honesty and seeking truth I think is what really appealed to people. And I think people love to see the smart dummy, which is someone who has a very high learning curve, I think is something I was always very attracted to. What everyone is expecting me as Faith to be naive, stupid and coming from a town with small minded views but that doesn’t mean that you’re a small minded person at all. That story in terms of our country is poignant right now that it doesn’t really matter where you’re from, you have the opportunity always to expand your point of view and I think that’s the story that appeals to people. It’s interesting because I said looking for a better way of life which is actually a line that I say as Rayna from AWOL. My role in that story is very different but the real desire about when you’ve been raised in a certain environment and your desire to look for something better and how that resistance folds out in the future I think is really interesting in AWOL.
Q) That’s an interesting tie in there.
A) Many, many stories are people looking for a better way of life, but AWOL and The Faith Diaries are very similar in the idea of somebody just stuck in the place that they were raised, economically, culturally and religiously in the story of Rayna and Faith, and seeking a way around that and a way out of it. The stories are very different though as people will find out.
Q) What do we explore with the seriesThe Faith Diaries? Where do we pick up with Faith? Where do we see her journey continue on with her relationship?
A) It’s a portrait of what happens after a reality dating show. Because a lot of the time in real life as opposed to unreal life we often see stories of reality TV stars really having it crash or come down. To be in the limelight in such a ferocious way and then have that limelight just be physically cut off at the head. And sometimes you see people have spinoffs and other times you see people doing horrible things in the media to keep that attention rolling. But in The Faith Diaries, I get a phone call that a Christian family jeans company wants to hire me as a spokesperson. I come out to Los Angeles and I call Amy, who you see in Unreal that I know since middle school and I’ve basically been in love with her since then and Unreal Season 1 brings that to life. And The Faith Diaries pick up where I’ve asked Amy to come to Los Angeles with me to do this shoot. On our journey out it starts where we’ve arrived in Los Angeles and the diaries are about Amy and I discovering ourselves, each other, LA and modern living. But in the story, in “UnREAL” there is a wonderful big brother dynamic that’s very meta where you’re being watched and there’s a real show and a fake show, it’s sort of a beautiful design prism. And in The Faith Diaries the story goes that Rachel Goldberg has asked us to keep a diary of our time in case we ever want to make a spinoff show. So, the spinoff show of “UnREAL” is my diaries that Rachel had asked me to make for a spinoff show. So the spinoff show is a spinoff show.
Q) What have you really taken away from your experience being a part of Unreal and being a part of the spinoff series? What has been the most rewarding aspect to you?
A) There’s so many rewarding things. Artistically rewarding things that happened, there was a larger artistic mission. I think Unreal and the whole show has a soap opera reality TV design, but Sarah Shapiro has a very strong mission as a show creator, as a feminist and a feminist voice. And so I felt like The Faith Diaries and “UnREAL” has this fun narrative, it’s good TV. But then I also feel like they have this higher mission and with The Faith Diaries just my expression of being able to have a voice for people who are discovering themselves in the light of our times, the LGBT community and for religious people in the LGBT community. That mission is real and it’s satisfying and the feedback that I’ve gotten from some of my friends and my manager, when you make something you hope that it can be entertaining and that it can also have some kind of impact. I felt like the story in The Faith Diaries was an important one to tell so getting that feedback from people was very rewarding for me.
Q) Certainly the LGBT community has really embraced the show “Unreal” itself because of Faith, but also because of the Rachel/Quinn dynamic as well.
A) You have a lot of shows that are about male bonding and complex relationships between male characters that are rooted in power and struggling with dominance and all these fun narratives that you rarely get to see with two female characters. When you watch the show “UnREAL,” you start to think that maybe it’s the same pattern of television where you always see women in these states of love and it’s all about love but our show Everlasting is all about love, our show Unreal is all about women which is awesome.
Q) “UnREAL” is a dating show, like “The Bachelor-esque type dating show, but Lifetime is so wonderful with women and their strong female characters. Even though it’s a show about “The Bachelor” type show, it’s the female contestants that are the biggest focus and the dynamics between them.
A) It’s interesting because it’s a straight up good show. Nowadays because of the overall discrimination against women in the industry that you have to quantify, you kind of have to put a show that has two ferocious female protagonists in a category like television for women or a show about women. But ultimately if you boil it all down, “UnREAL” is just a really good show. And because there is a frequency in our culture of anything good being male or being owned by men or being about men, “UnREAL” is just a good show and it also just happens to be about women. That is a very satisfying moment. Making it about women as a whole is high end recognition to the movement but at the end of the day it’s either good TV or it isn’t. And “UnREAL” is good TV.
Q) As a fan of the show, what would you like to see in Season 2?
A) I’d like to see a lot of Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. There is this topic in Season 1, Jeffrey read The Ground On Which I Stand and there’s an idea in that about black entertainment for black artists and black entertainment for the white population in America. Reality dating programs, not to name a few, have been racial biased and I’m very excited to see how “UnREAL” deals with this topic. It’s specifically Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman’s character as being the black producer on a show produced by two white women and I’m very excited to see Jeffrey as an actor and Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer. But that dynamic of discussion is something I’m really looking forward to seeing. I’m really looking forward to their performances and I’m really looking forward to how the show deals with that topic.
Q) Your upcoming project AWOL, what is the premise and what really made you want to be a part of that?
A) The film is about a high school graduate named Joey (played by Lola Kirke), she and I fall in love. I play a married woman with two little kids and we fall in love, we’re both from a very poor area in Pennsylvania and it’s about how we deal with our love for each other and how we deal with trying to make our lives better. So, Joey joins the Army and she wants me to go AWOL with her.
Q) What was the biggest challenge then that you found in regards to the role or maybe a specific scene?
A) I thought that the relationship with my husband in that story Roy (played by Bill Sage) is a very interesting one. The film predominantly deals with Rayna and Joey’s love story but there’s a very interesting aspect of what it’s like to be in a relationship where you don’t have very much power. Or in a dependent relationship and how somebody navigates their way out of a relationship where they’re kind of stuck, a relationship that isn’t necessarily healthy. There is just so much about being Rayna that was interesting to me. The sensation of having no way out or the sensation that you’ve been marginalized over and over again by men, society and school. In that story I kind of live off the grid almost, Joey and I live in a trailer deep in the Pennsylvania mountains kind of forgotten about by society from the beginning. I’ve never had adults looking out for me and now I have two children in the story. So, now I’m the adult to them, there’s a lot of themes that are important about an America that is very real. We actual shot in many areas around Knoxville Pennsylvania where people in the area feel very forgotten. And there’s a huge military influence where a lot of people’s only choice is to join in order to gain any type of stability. There is large unemployment and it’s like the Wild West of Pennsylvania. It was a world that was very fascinating for me to get into and the film will have an aesthetic that reflects that world. I think there is going to be a beautiful visual poetry to the film that reflects those things
Q) You talked a little bit about the fan feedback that you receive on social media and why is it important for you to connect with people that way?
A) It’s people’s communities now at days, for better or for worse it’s how people find out what is going on in the world.