Valentina to ‘Drag Out the Vote’ at Variety Show “Divas For Democracy: United We Slay”

Valentina’s prepared to drag out the vote

The 29-year-old Mexican American drag performer and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant will team up with some of her fellow queens and Broadway celebrities to get out the vote for November’s presidential election.

Valentina

Valentina and divas from the drag world and icons of the stage will come together for Divas For Democracy: United We Slay, a one-night-only variety show extravaganza promoting voter participation and key issues relating to the LGBTQIA+ community in the upcoming 2020 election.

Presented by the nonprofit voter engagement organization Drag Out the Vote and hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race star Nina West and Entertainment Tonights Keltie KnightDivas for Democracy: United We Slay features scores of talent who’ll sing and lip-synch through dazzling performances of theater classics and pop songs.

Special segments will highlight LGBTQIA+ activists in a nonpartisan effort to shine a light on community participation in the political process, including celebrity appearances by Tony winner Cyndi LauperDrag Race panelist Michelle VisageHarvey Fierstein, James Monroe IglehartBianca Del RioShangelaCheyenne Jackson, Mila Jam, and Oscar-winning actress Allison Janney.

In addition to Valentina, other drag superstars slated to perform during the broadcast include AlaskaJinkx MonsoonJujubeePeppermintCynthia Lee FontaineShuga CainHoney Davenport, and Drag Out the Vote’s national co-chairs Brita Filter, Marti Gould Cummings, and Pixie Aventura.

Broadway figures set to appear include legendary three-time Tony-winning actress Chita Rivera, as well as Tony winners Stephanie J. Block, Lea Salonga, Nikki M. James, Beth Leavel and Annaleigh Ashford. Also joining the program are stage stars Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa, Jenn Collela, Chilina KennedyKeala Settle, Tamika Lawrence, L Morgan Lee, and Our Lady J.

The presentation will be directed by Josh Rhodes and Lee Wilkins, whose joint careers include work choreographing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CinderellaFirst DateIt Shoulda Been You, and Bright Star on Broadway. Tony winner Stephen Oremus will serve as music supervisor.

“One in five LGBTQIA+ people is not registered to vote, and 100 million people did not vote in the 2016 election. We must fix this,” said Drag Out the Vote founder Jackie Huba in a press statement. “We are excited to bring together the worlds of Broadway and drag to inspire voters to sashay their way to the polls or their mailboxes.”

Divas for Democracy: United We Slay airs October 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET exclusively on StageIt. Tickets — available on a “donate-what-you-can” basis — go on sale Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ET at divasfordemocracy.com.

Jai Rodriguez to Star in HBO Max’s LGBTQ+ Landmark Events Docuseries “Equal”

Jai Rodriguez has found his Equal

The 41-year-old half-Puerto Rican actor/musician and original culture guide on Queer Eye has joined the cast of HBO Max’s Equal, its upcoming four-part docuseries chronicling landmark events and the forgotten heroes of the LGBTQ+ movement.

Jai Rodriguez

The project hails from Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions, Jim Parsons and That’s Wonderful Productions, Scout Productions, Jon Jashni and Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.

In addition to Rodriguez, who’ll portray José Sarria, the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States, the cast includes Samira Wiley, Cheyenne Jackson, Anthony Rapp, Sara Gilbert, Shannon Purser, Heather Matarazzo, Jamie Clayton, Isis King, Gale Harold.

They’ll allportray the LBGTQ+ visionaries in the docuseries that contains never-before-seen archival footage.

Part one of the docuseries explores the rise of early organizations, The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively; part two stories chronicles the 20th century trans experience, bookended by the 1966 Compton Cafeteria riots in San Francisco; part three examines the contributions from the Black community on the growing LGBTQ+ civil rights movement; and part four ties in the decades long struggles with the culminated Stonewall uprising – the beginning of the Pride movement.

Stephen Kijak is the showrunner and director of episodes one, three and four alongside ground-breaking trans director Kimberly Reed, who directs episode two.

Here’s a full list with character descriptions:

Cheyenne Jackson as Dale Jennings. Dale was a gay rights activist, playwright and author. He was one of the founding members of the Mattachine Society in the early 1950s, one of the earliest gay rights groups in the United States. Following his entrapment and arrest on sex charges, Jennings fought the charges in a successful court cast which became a landmark moment for the movement. He was also one of the founders of One Magazine, the first pro-gay publication in the U.S.

Anthony Rapp as Harry Hay. Harry was the founder of The Mattachine Society. His manifesto, “The Call,” written feverishly one night in 1948 called for the protection and improvement of the rights of homosexuals and was the foundation on which the group was built.

Shannon Purser & Heather Matarazzo as Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon. Del & Phyllis were a lesbian couple (together for 56 years until Martin’s death in 2008) who founded the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955, the first social and political organization for lesbians in the United States. They also published The Ladder, the first nationally distributed lesbian publication in the US. Active in both gay and feminist politics their whole lives, they were the first same-sex couple to legally wed.

Sara Gilbert as J.M. From Cleveland. “JM” is an “anonymous reader” of The Ladder, representing the isolated lesbians of the 1950’s who found a lifeline in the pages of the magazine, but who were forced to live closeted lives for fear of losing jobs, friends and family.

Anne Ramsay as The FBI Agent: A composite character, the FBI kept active files on the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis – gay groups were often linked to communism and considered to be dangerous subversives.

Alexandra Grey as Lucy Hicks Anderson. Socialite, chef, and prohibition-era entrepreneur – and one of the first documented Black transgender persons in the USA — Lucy Hicks Anderson was one of the most prominent citizens of Oxnard, CA until 1945 when a syphilis outbreak at her brothel became her undoing, outing her to the community.

Theo Germaine as Jack Starr. Jack is a little-known character in the history of folks who probably would have self-identified as trans. He was a prominent local outcast at the turn of the century in Montana, in and out of jail and in and out of the local headlines for refusing to wear clothes that conformed to the gender assigned to Jack at birth. A Jack-of-all-trades and teller of tall tales, Jack Starr (aka Jacques Moret) is an enigmatic early figure who pushed the boundaries of gender expression.

Jamie Clayton as Christine Jorgensen. Widely known as the world’s first transgender celebrity, Christine became an internationally known figure following the publicity surrounding her gender confirmation surgery in the early 1950’s. She became a popular nightclub entertainer, author, and lecturer and used her celebrity to advance the cause of transgender rights.

Isis King as Alexis. “Alexis” is a composite character, the spirit of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966, one of the first known instances of trans and queer folk rising up against police harassment – three years before the Stonewall Riots.

Samira Wiley as Lorraine Hannsberry. Author of the landmark play “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry was the first African American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. She was a radical and forceful voice within the Civil Rights Movement, who died far too young at age 34 of pancreatic cancer. While closeted during her lifetime, she wrote extensively under a variety of pseudonyms – in plays, stories and letters that discussed her lesbianism and the oppression of homosexuals in society.

Keiynan Lonsdale as Bayard Rustin. Bayard was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. He was a close mentor and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the chief architects of the March on Washington. Because of a 1953 arrest on sex charges his sexuality was often weaponized against him and the movement, but he remained a tireless advocate for social justice his entire life – and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barak Obama in 2013.

Jai Rodriguez as José Sarria. In 1961 José became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States, running for a seat on the SF Board of Supervisors 16 years before Harvey Milk. He is also remembered as a beloved and inspiring drag performer at SF’s Black Cat Bar, who raised the spirits and political consciousness of the bar’s gay male patrons with his rousing anthem “God Save Us Nelly Queens”! A lifelong advocate and activist, José founded the Imperial Court System, one of the oldest and largest LGBT organizations in the world.

Hailie Sahar as Sylvia Rivera. Sylvia was a Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist. Prominent as an activist and community worker in New York, Rivera, along with close friend Marsha P. Johnson, co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries in 1970, a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women. Whether true or a bit of self myth-making, Sylvia placed herself at the center of the Stonewall Riots – either way, her perspective on the riots and its aftermath are an indelible part of the oral history of Stonewall.

Scott Turner Schofield as Craig Rodwell. Craig was an American gay rights activist known for founding the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967, the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors. A witness and participant in the Stonewall riots, he was one of the prime movers in the creation of the first New York City Pride demonstration.

Cole Doman as Mark Segal. Mark is an American journalist and prominent gay rights activist. He participated in the Stonewall riots and was one of the original founders of the Gay Liberation Front where he created its Gay Youth program.

Elizabeth Faith Ludlow as Stormé DeLarverie. Stormé was a gay civil rights icon and entertainer whose scuffle with police was, according to many eyewitnesses, the spark that ignited the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action. She worked for much of her life as an MC, singer, bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker, the “guardian of lesbians in the Village.”

Gale Harold as Howard Smith. Howard was an Oscar-winning film director, producer, journalist, screenwriter, actor and radio broadcaster. At the peak of the historic Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969, he managed to get inside the now famous bar with his Village Voice reporter’s police credentials. He was the only journalist who reported about the siege from that dangerous vantage point.

Sam Pancake as Dick Leitsch. Dick was a prominent LGBTQ rights activist and president of the Mattachine Society in the 1960s. He is also known for being the first gay reporter to publish an account of the Stonewall Riots, which appeared in a special edition of the Mattachine Newsletter the day after he witnessed the first night of the riot.

Netflix Releases Music Video Teaser for Madison Reyes’ “Julie and the Phantoms”

Madison Reyes is livin’ on the Edge…

Netflix has released a music video teaser from Kenny Ortega’s new musical-dramedy Julie and the Phantoms, starring the young Latina actress.

Madison Reyes

The acoustic performance features Reyes and the rest of the main cast singing “Edge of Great,” an original song from the show’s soundtrack.

Created by Ortega, who directed Disney’s High School Musical and Descendants, the series will start streaming on Netflix on September 10.

Reyes stars as Julie, a high schooler who lost her passion for music after her mom died last year. But when the ghosts of three dreamy musicians (played by Charlie Gillespie, Jeremy Shada and Owen Patrick Joyner) from 1995 suddenly appear in her mom’s old music studio, Julie feels her own inner spirit begin to reawaken and is inspired to start singing and writing songs again. As their friendship with Julie grows, the boys convince her to create a new band together: Julie and the Phantoms.

Though the show is based on Julie e os Fantasmas, a Brazilian television series for children produced by Rede Bandeirantes in partnership with Nickelodeon Brazil, EP and choreographer Ortega said the Netflix original will not follow the original too closely. Ortega said “we were given complete license to explore through the boundaries of what it was and to begin anew. That’s what excited me. This was really a completely new exploration of the idea.”

Playing the titular role, Reyes disclosed that providing visible role models that reflected her identity is what drove and inspired her to play the character of Julie.

“I definitely push myself to follow my dream more for my family and also for my little sister. I wanted her to have someone she could look up to that looked like her and that she could have a connection with whether it be my ethnicity or curly hair. It was about making sure that my sister had somebody that she could look up to. I wanted to be that role model for her. That was what motivated me to follow my dreams,” said Reyes.

Booboo Stewart, Cheyenne Jackson, Carlos Ponce, Sonny Bustamante, Jadah Marie, Sacha Carlson and Savannah Lee May round out the cast.

Some episodes of the single-camera series are directed OrtegaThe series hails from Ortega’s one-year deal with Netflix, which he inked last year.

Netflix to Release Madison Reyes’ “Julie and the Phantoms,” From Kenny Ortega, in September

Madison Reyes is ready to rock…

Netflix has released new details on its upcoming musical series from Kenny OrtegaJulie and the Phantoms, starring the Latina actress

Julie and the Phantoms

Reyes has been cast as the lead of the live-action series, which will premiere on September 10. She plays Julie, a high school student who lost her passion for music after her mom’s death a year earlier. 

But when the ghosts of three dreamy musicians (Charlie GillespieJeremy ShadaOwen Patrick Joyner) from 1995 suddenly appear in her mom’s old music studio, Julie feels her own inner spirit begin to reawaken, and she’s inspired to start singing and writing songs again. As their friendship with Julie grows, the boys convince her to create a new band together: Julie and the Phantoms.

Julie and the Phantoms

Booboo StewartCheyenne JacksonCarlos PonceSonny BustamanteJadah MarieSacha Carlson and Savannah Lee May round out the cast. 

Ortega, who helmed Disney’s High School Musical and Descendants films and Michael Jackson’s This Is It, will direct some of the episodes of the single-camera series

The series is part of a multi-year Netflix deal Ortega signed in 2019.

Gina Torres to Take Part in Benefit Concert for the National Immigration Law Center

Gina Torres is giving back to the immigrant community…

The 50-year-old Afro-Cuban American actress and Pearson star will participate in a concert being live-streamed Saturday to benefit low-income migrants.

Gina Torres

The show will also feature Marcia CrossGrant GustinCheyenne JacksonRachel Bay JonesMelissa ManchesterEric McCormackCaroline RheaLiz Callaway,Yuri SardarovDancing with the Stars pros Pasha Pashkov and Daniella KaragachMelissa Benoist and Chris Wood.

Performers include Jane LynchWayne Bradyand Laurie Metcalf.

The concert is set for 9:00 pm EDT at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It’ll be broadcast via Facebook Liveand at ConcertsforAmerica.com. Proceeds will benefit the National Immigration Law Center.

It’s the latest in a series of benefits created and hosted by Seth Rudetskyand James Wesley, the host and producer of Sirius XM’s “On Broadway” show.

Sony Pictures Classics Releases Trailer for Molina’s Drama “Love Is Strange”

It’s a strange time for Alfred Molina

Sony Pictures Classics has released the official trailer for the Ira Sachs-directed drama Love Is Strange, starring the 61-year-old half-Spanish actor and John Lithgow.

Love Is Strange

Molina and Lithgow portray longtime gay lovers who finally tie the knot. But their idyllic situation begins to unravel when one of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door.

In addition to Molina and Lithgow, the film also stars Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan.

Sony Pictures Classics will release Love Is Strange on August 22.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Molina’s “Love is Strange”

Sony Pictures Classics and Alfred Molina are set to make strange bedfellows…

The art-house film distributor has acquired the distribution rights to the gay marriage drama Love is Strange, starring the 60-year-old half-Spanish actor.

Love is Strange

Written and directed by Ira Sachs, the film centers on two longtime gay lovers who finally get married. One of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door.

Along with Molina, the film also stars John Lithgow, Manny Pérez, Kelly Reilly, Tracy Letts, Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson.

The film received a strong response from the audience when it premiered earlier this year at the Eccles Theater.

The film has also garnered a French distribution deal with Pretty Pictures.

Rivera to Appear at The Trevor Project’s TrevorLIVE Gala Event

Naya Rivera will be taking the stage at the Trevor Project’s annual gala fundraiser.

The 26-year-old half-Puerto Rican singer will join her fellow Glee stars Jane Lynch, Darren Criss, Amber Riley and Chris Colfer, as well as American Idol alum Adam Lambert at TrevorLIVE, on December 8 at the Hollywood Palladium.

Naya Rivera

Hosted by comedienne Kathy Griffin, the event raises funds for The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Lynch will be honored by the organization.

Lambert, along with Riley, Smash star Megan Hilty and Glee alum Cheyenne Jackson, will take the stage for special performances.

Others scheduled to make an appearance include Dot-Marie Jones and Harry Shum, Jr., of Glee, Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Crazy Ones; Hannah Simone of New Girl; Andrew Rannells of  Girls; Allison Janney of Mom and Masters of Sex; TV host Ricki Lake and Jennifer Coolidge of American Pie.

The show will be produced by So You Think You Can Dance judge Adam Shankman, whose directing and producing credits include Rock of Ages, Hairspray, Glee and the 2010 Academy Awards.

The red carpet and pre-show will be shown via livestream.

Pérez Cast in Alfred Molina’s Drama “Love is Strange”

Manny Pérez is preparing for a lovely role…

The 44-year-old Dominican actor has been cast in Ira SachsLove Is Strange, which is currently filming in New York City.

Manny Perez

Perez will portray Roberto, the partner to Cheyenne Jackson’s character, in the drama about an older gay couple (Alfred Molina and John Lithgow) forced to live separately with friends and family shortly after they marry.

Love is Strange also stars Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei.

Perez, best known for his roles on television Third Watch and the film Washington Heights, will be starring in 2014′s Crosstown and will appear in the upcoming season of Showtime’s Homeland.