Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer lady each day, by asking her seven custom (sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
Amira Shaunice always dreamed of being a screenwriter. The career stuck to her because she wanted to create stories where she felt represented. As a longtime fan of lesbian media like “The L Word,” she felt like this dream could be a reality. “New York Girls TV” started as a small YouTube webseries to follow the lives of lesbian, bisexual and queer women of color.
After three seasons and nearly 8 million YouTube views; Creator, Writer and Director Shaunice felt it was time to take things to the next level in order to attract the attention of studios and networks. She turned “NYGTV” into a film and has been successfully touring the States this summer.
GO Magazine: Can you speak a little but about the genesis of “NYGTV”?
Amira Shaunice: I was always a fan of “The L Word” and watched other shows online but as an aspiring screenwriter, I didn’t see myself or my friends represented. I didn’t think I’d be 3 seasons and a film in. I was surprised by how quickly this all took off in 2014. I’ve been writing the storyline as it goes and have had so much fun with it all.
GO: What has the reception of the show been like? What feedback do you get most often from viewers?
AS: They love the grittiness of the show, it’s realistic and feels like something they can relate to. The love that I touch on goes beyond LGBTQ issues and provides nuanced ways to talk about these topics. I did content with the cops and discrimination and things people deal with in general. People in our community feel seen but also people not in our community are able to relate and still love the show. It gives something for everyone to understand and feel connected to.
GO: How did the film premier on June 22 go?
AS: It was amazing, it was a sold out show. Our fans are diverse, especially in age. I loved seeing everyones reaction and which characters they felt connections to. They wanted to know if there would be another season, my inspiration for certain characters, and where I pull certain plot lines from. Which is a combination of everything. I started writing the series based on my friends and our lives. As I got deeper in developing these characters, I was intentional with how the audience would react and what certain outcomes I wanted to see.
GO: What are your hopes with the film? Is it continuation of the story told in the TV series? Or a new plot entirely?
AS: It was a continuation from season 3. But it’s also if you’ve never watched any of the season, you can still watch the film. Our goal is to reach a bigger platform and hopefully get the show on somewhere like Netflix.
GO: How does “NYGTV” tackle topics of love, life and monogamy for lesbians differently than mainstream media?
AS: I would say it’s very honest. It’s very real. I’m not second guessing when I’m writing it. I have a bisexual characters—a lot of ppl thought she was promiscuous. I break down these stereotypes. Majority of television is written from a male gaze, meaning women are sexualized in a non-realistic way. I wanted to portray the reality and complexity of women’s sexuality.
GO: Why is it important for you to portray real life experiences of lesbians in media?
AS: I think it’s important because we don’t have that out there. It’s us in the community promoting ourselves. Mainstream needs to see us outside of the box they put us in. I think “NYGTV” can open up a lot of peoples eyes. It can help different people relate to the movement.