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Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show Host

Mel Rose Mel Rose on Air TV talk show the round up

Known around Montrose just by the name ‘Mel Rose’, the singer and artist has a lot of things she’d like to discuss; and she’s about to get the chance to do just that in her new talk show from About Magazine, The Round-Up with Mel Rose.

(HOUSTON) –You’ve probably seen her around Montrose and the surrounding areas, out-and-about at local events with her longtime partner and musician, Morena Roas. But Roas — who hosts Monday night’s The Floor is Yours at Guava Lamp on Waugh, runs the MollyNation brand, and encourages artists to support other artists as she does herself — isn’t the only talented half of this coupling. Just like Roas, Mel Rose is a vocalist and musician who spends her time speaking with and supporting the LGBTQ community of artists and fans. Meeting her and getting into a conversation with her is like lightning in a bottle — powerful, energetic, passionate, and bright. Her ideas are fluid, they’re insightful, and they come to her with ease. Mel Rose is a woman who thinks.

But just as much time as she spends thinking, Mel Rose is listening. Her opinions are important, but she takes note of how important it is to hear from someone else’s perspective. And it’s that sort of introspective and curious mind that led her right to the cameras for her brand new talk show premiering this August, The Round-Up with Mel Rose. 

37923945_914094942134759_4454366619119910912_o Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show HostBut this isn’t just any old talk show in vain of The View or Chelsea. Mel Rose’s show isn’t about battling it out over politics or current issues, bringing in fancy celebrity guests, or even promoting products to viewers at home. Her show is about something much deeper — people, their perspectives on existential topics (women in the music industry, relationships, depression), and taking an introspective look at how our own actions affect the people and the world around us.

The talk show — from production companies Mel Rose on Air and About Media (a subsidiary of About Magazine) — is executive produced by Mel Rose herself, with co-executive producer Anthony Ramirez, editor-in-chief of About Magazine and the author of the new book, “Less Than Butterflies”. It will be the first show for both About and Mel Rose on Air — both of which are producing other, separate content, such as Mel Rose’s Mel Rose on Air radio show and Ramirez’s The Anthony Project sitcom coming next spring — and the duo and their team have been hard at work to make the show come to fruition. We sat down with Mel Rose to chat about the forthcoming show and what brought her to this place and point.


About Magazine: Tell us what inspired you to create this show.

Mel Rose: What inspired me to create this show was the ability to give people an inside look into themselves. It was something I felt I needed in my journey growing into myself. Looking at social media and talk shows, it seemed that everyone was talking about the problems in the world, but no one seemed to be looking for the solutions; and for me, we are the solution.

What about your show is going to be different from other shows like it?

I feel like my show is different because it will give people the opportunity to be involved in subjects that can potentially change the way they see life itself. Being a part of that movement will help this country — and this world — be more proactive in changing the way we view real life circumstances and how we handle and react to them.

What kind of topics do you want to discuss?

The major topics that I want to bring to my panel are topics that we seldom talk about. They’re going to seem like topics that people talk about all the time — depression, love, women — but if you look at the way they’re being discussed in other shows, they’re only being talked about on a surface. I want to open them up a little further and step away from circumstantial topics and discuss a more humanistic approach to these topics. I want us to delve into ourselves and ask, “What can I change about me to make this better? How are my decisions affecting the people around me?”

“The best advice I could give my younger self would be that no one is perfect and to be perfectly fine with that while also using your strengths to be great.”

What’s your background in entertainment?

My background is in music. I’m a singer/songwriter. But I also love to write poetry. It’s like therapy for me. I’m currently working on my original music and my branding as an artist, with a new single coming soon.

19059977_765301433680778_673124295057270857_n Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show HostOh, that’s amazing! Can you tell us about the single?

The single coming out this year is called “Feel the Music.” It’s a house/dance pop song. It’s a song that is out of my comfort zone, but the song itself has great meaning to me. It was actually the one that gave me the ability to understand music and lyrics and how they come together. “Feel the Music” gave me an understanding of myself as a writer because of the simplicity of it.

That’s amazing. Who do you hope to reach with this single? Well … not even just the single, but with the show as well! Do you have a specific demographic? 

What I hope to reach with my show is the ability to give people the understanding of how huge their part in this world is and how much control they actually have in it. I’m also currently writing a book entitled, “I Am the Author of My Life,” and a lot of the book plays a big part into the concept I’ve conceived for this show. We have the pen and we are the authors of everything that goes on in our lives. Usually we’re either writing it or we have given the world the pen to write it for us. We have the choice. My demographic is truly just anyone that is human and needs to take a deeper look into themselves.

 

If you could tell your younger self anything or give her any advice, what would it be?

The best advice I could give my younger self would be that no one is perfect and to be perfectly fine with that while also using your strengths to be great. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Because, at the end of it all, worrying is going to away from what you have to offer the world around you. Get to know yourself, be your own best friend, and don’t take anyone’s issues personally. It is not your issue to conquer. Be of value to others and judge no one. Your higher power is the only thing that can give you the power to be the best you, and that just being Mel Rose will be your greatest legacy.

That’s really beautiful, and I think more people need to think that way. So, in line with what you just said, what do you think the world needs most right now and how do you plan to help give it with your show and your music?

I think that what the world needs right now and has always needed, is love. Love is the only thing we all as human beings seek, everything we do, we do for love. My plan is to show love to every group of people. The common denominator for living is love. My music and the show will reflect that; my writing will reflect that; my journey will reflect that. The only reason why I preach about love is because I receive it and you can only give love when you are willing to receive it. Love is love.


The Round-Up Mel Rose premieres in late August. You can follow Mel Rose here:

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About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project

About Media The T

The Round-Up and The Anthony Project, two of the forthcoming television shows About Media (a production company subsidiary of About Magazine), are entering production.

(HOUSTON) – As reported back in February, About Magazine opened its own publishing house and production company in late 2017 (respectively titled About Editions and About Media). The production company would offer all its content through free streaming services. At the time, three television shows were slated for late 2018 and early 2019. A full, 13-episode series order was given to the first season of About editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez’s sitcom, The Anthony Project, with pilot scripts orders placed to Lifelong Learning (based on the collection of short stories by Zeke Jarvis published by About Editions in March) and How to Break My Neck (based on the collection of poetry by Jessica L. Walsh also published by Editions). In the time since, About Media has greenlit a fourth program, a pre-recorded, round-table talk show entitled The Round-Up with Mel Rose hosted by local Houston artist Mel Rose.

TAPWriters About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project
Kimberly Dyan, Al Farb, Rebekah Knight, Megan Prevost, Brie Grayson, Shaun Gray, Lea Alonso, Wendy Taylor, Christian Peck, and Veronica Strutts.

As of July, The Anthony Project officially began pre-production. Ramirez will serve as executive producer, head writer, director, and star of the show and has brought on a large scale team of writers to round out the show’s first season of scripts. Among his team former 93Q morning show producer Al Farb joins the staff as supervising producer, local Houston musician Wendy Taylor joins as Ramirez’s co-executive producer, and returning writer Kimberly Dyan makes her comeback as coordinating producer. The remainder of their writing staff includes 2018 Pride SuperStar contestant Shaun Gray, actor and vocalist Christian Peck, Houston drag queen Veronica Strutts, returning TAP writer/producer Rebekah Knight, Houston-native and LA-transplant Brie Grayson, About Magazine staffer Megan Prevost and Florida International University alum, Lea Alonso. The sitcom, which revolves around a fictionalized version of Ramirez and his cartoonish coworkers, is set at a fictional version of About Magazine where Ramirez works as a sex writer, jumping back-and-forth in time between the protagonist dealing with the death of his grandmother and recovering after being a victim of rape.

AANDMR About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project
Anthony Ramirez, Mel Rose

As for The Round Up, this is only one of the two productions artist Mel Rose is undertaking. While the second will be a broadcast radio show (Mel Rose On Air), Round-Up will travel a different avenue into film. Having been picked up for a 13-episode first season with Mel Rose and Ramirez serving as co-executive producers, the series will engage in show-long topics that are discussed with a panel about topics like depression, suicide, relationships, women in the entertainment industry, the price of freedom, and many more. Mel Rose describes her show as different from other talk shows like it because it “makes the audience ask how their actions affect the people around them.”

Mel Rose conceived the idea long ago and is currently rounding up guest panelists and professionals in the careers of many of these topics. She hopes that her show will take away the politics and anger that are dividing people on all sides and will instead give them an opportunity to look at the most humanistic aspects of the issues and wires that connect all people to each other. An interview with Mel Rose will be released tomorrow (8-1-18).

The Anthony Project is now scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2019, with The Round-Up scheduled to begin airing in early September. An early viewing party for the first episode of Mel Rose’s show will be held Friday, August 25th. How to Break My Neck (a story about a poet who has lost her words, but finds them again with a little magic) and Lifelong Learning (an anthology about a dystopian society in which rules mean everything) are being pushed back until summer 2019.

Christina Edwards Wells Advances on AGT

CHRISTINA edwards wells america's got talent lbgtq Houston

Houston’s hometown hero, Christina Edwards Wells, has advanced to the live shows at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on America’s Got Talent

(HOUSTON) – She’s been keeping the secret for weeks — even when we interviewed her about it for our About Magazine Pride Edition — but now the rest of the world finally knows. Christina Edwards Wells, the 2016 Pride Houston Pride SuperStar and Montrose favorite, is progressing onto the live shows on NBC’s America’s Got Talent for season 13. Tonight’s episode, like her initial audition, was previously taped earlier this year. This is Wells’ second go at the program. She previously auditioned but did not progress. Christina is a well-known member and performer in Houston’s LGBTQ community.

Wells’ performance started off as a nail-biter, with judges noted that she was a bit off-key at the beginning of her song. Although she sounded fine to all of us, and apparently found her vocal footing within a few short bars. The judges commended Wells, who is a full-time registered nurse in Houston. Guest judge, comedian, and actor, Ken Jeong, telling Christina, “[…] my wife told me, ‘You’re no longer a doctor. You’re a comedian.’ You’re no longer a nurse, you’re a singer […] an artist.”

Just before the judges made their decision, Christina weepily told the camera that she never thought she would make it this far, and that she did not want it to end. Luckily, when the time came, Simon Cowell told Christina, “Today, I’m going to be honest with you […] this wasn’t better from the first audition. We had to make decisions based on who do we think could really do well in the live show.” After a brief and histrionic pause, Cowell continued, “And that’s why, Christina, we have decided to put you through to the live shows.” Christina immediately erupted in tears before saying, “I thought you were going to tell me no!” Mel B. jumped to her feet and rushed on stage to hug Wells.

Jack Tracy: A Gay “History”

Jack Tracy History Gay Older Satisfaction

Gay actor and performer Jack Tracy, the creator and star of the acclaimed web series, History, sits down to talk to About Magazine about his forthcoming freshman album, Older, and much more.

 

(NEW YORK CITY) – When it comes to television, there aren’t a lot of options available that are central to just the LGBTQIA community. Sure, it’s commonplace in the late 2010s to have a sassy, gay best friend who is constantly sleeping around and panders to straight audiences with flair and histrionics, or maybe even a butch lesbian that is the punchline of U-Haul jokes and poor clothing choices by way of the show’s stylist. And for chrissakes, it takes an act of Congress to get a trans person more than a few minutes of screentime. Even with shows like Transparent coming back to Amazon with a plot now centering around more of its previously-supporting trans actors, there is literally no room made at the table for trans and nonbinary artists to paint a genuine and relevant picture on a canvas for their communities. Even in the age of the aforementioned Transparent and rebooted Queer Eye or Will & Grace, there are not a lot of intermediaries that depict an accurate portrayal of LGBTQIA life on the screen. Is it because queer artists aren’t writing them? Hell no. It’s because networks and studios aren’t producing them.

Enter Jack Tracy — the gay attorney and New York City resident in his thirties who one day tired of the mundane aspects of his life. Sure, he had friends and wasn’t hurting for money. But Jack’s creative muse — and maybe even his Id, as Freud may have put it — was starved for attention. In turn, he was not living a life he felt was fulfilling; and the lack of LGBTQIA representation in the media (or maybe even more accurately, how LGBTQIA folks are portrayed in the media) was only affecting him further.

So Mr. Tracy took it upon himself to do what many studios and networks have only hesitantly and in small increments been willing to do: he began creating queer video content. Better yet, when Jack begat his content centered around gay characters, it wasn’t about living the flashy life or the perpetuation the stereotypes involving glamorous parties, sexy Grindr hook-ups, or irresponsible drug use. No, Tracy wanted to — and did — give LGBTQIA characters a depth that they often lack in the way that they’re represented. He dug past the frivolousness and superficialities to create a character named Jamie in a then-small web series entitled History. So what was so special about Tracy’s creation that made it stand apart from the others?

History-1 Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"

Absolutely everything. Jack Tracy employed a method of writing for his main character I first heard described by television writer and creator of the original Charmed series, Constance M. Burge. As Burge put it about her trio sister of witches portrayed by Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano (and later Rose McGowan) from 1998-2006, Charmed was created to be a show not about witches who happened to be sisters, but sisters who happened to be witches. And that was just the thing that Tracy implemented into his narrative. He wasn’t using Jamie as a soap box to shout the needs of equality or to end discriminatory behavior (or, at least, not so blatantly). No, Jack created a series not about protagonists that were gay and happen to have normal love, personal, and professional lives, but one about characters who had normal love, personal, and professional lives (albeit not without their own disparities) … who just so happen to be gay.

In doing so — and possibly without even knowing it — Jack Tracy progressed LGBTQIA normalization in a subtle way. By eliminating the preachiness often credited to the Ellen show of the ’90s, the showrunner, creator, and star of History presented gay characters in lives and with feelings not unlike straight or cisgender characters who haunt the screen of nearly every station or streaming service at any given time. Then — by tapping into the emotions that were neither queer-centric nor heteronormative — Tracy took possibly unconscious steps in the normalization of queer characters to a not entirely queer audience.

And he did so at the perfect time, all things considered. With a vice president who has openly denounced homosexuality and in the past called for conversion therapy, when trans murder rates at all-time highs in just the past 7 months, and with countless people openly discriminating against the LGBTQIA community, Tracy’s once-small, pipe dream web series — which has moved on to critical acclaim, receiving innumerable accolades, including the Los Angeles Film Award for Best Web Series — has gone on not only to entertain, delight, and bring audiences to tears, but to inspire queer people to make things happen for themselves, even if no one in the world has given them permission to do so.

jack-tracy Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Cover art for Jack Tracy’s new album, “Older”.

And this Friday, the star of the show will be releasing his first-ever album, entitled Older, for which he is in the early stages of planning a national tour. The album’s first single, “Satisfaction”, was released late last month and can be found under the header of this article above (the official music video can also be found in the interview below).

Jack sat down with About Magazine editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, for an interview on Wednesday, June 11th to talk about his life and inspirations, Older, “Satisfaction”, his forthcoming film that is currently in postproduction, and how fans can help make the third season of History come to life (hint, hint: you can click on this subtly highlighted text to donate to the cause).


Anthony Ramirez: Can you tell me about when you decided to create the album and what inspired it? 

Jack Tracy: Yeah! I guess it all goes back to when I turned … I’d say like 31, I had this sort of epiphany. I was in a place in my life where I was at my day job, I had my social circle, and I kind of thought to myself, Is this it? Am I just gonna do this ’til I die? Is this the end? And I sort of just decided that any little dream, any little thing that I always wanted to do, I just had to go and do them. I mean, you only live once. So I told myself, “If you wanna do a show, go do that show. If you wanna sing a song, go write that song to sing it.” So, I sort of just made this mantra that whatever dream I had, I was just gonna do it. So, an album has always been on the list, but I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to really make it what I wanted to make it. So, I did a little cabaret show where I sang some covers and really enjoyed that. And it was through the process of making my web series, History, and since I’m a do-everything-yourself person, I had to teach myself how to make music — electronic music. I have a musical background, but I wasn’t familiar with the software. I wasn’t proficient.

So, I really taught myself how to do it so that I could make background music for all of the […] scenes [in History] without having to go out and license a bunch of pre-made music. […] I did not want to go through the nightmare of licensing; and I am an attorney, so I know how that works. So, I made these really basic, like, club beats that I thought, “These will be good for the background.” And then there were a few of them that I really fell in love with, and I thought, Well, if I can do this, why don’t I spend some time really pushing them a bit more and adding a bit more? And then taking them to a sound engineer to get that those things fixed and to get recordedI mean, I had recorded vocals for History. But other than that it was just piano. And so I knew how to make beats, I had a relationship with a sound engineer. So, if you’re a fan of the web series, you will hear the first sort of pass at a lot of the instrumentals that are currently on Older.

Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. Because when I watched the first season of History, one of the first things I noticed — because I’m a music person, too — is that piano piece that plays in the opening scene of the pilot. And I wondered if that was an original piece of yours. 

Yeah, it’s all original. The only thing that isn’t original in History would be, in the first season, anything that’s electronic that’s like background, club-y beats, party beats — that wasn’t me. That was all licensed. But in the second season, that’s when I took it over. I wrote the song “Take It All Away”, which is the motif that plays throughout season one; and I wrote the song “Together”, which plays throughout season two; and I have a new one, “You Lose”, that I’m still working on for season three. The idea with that is that each season has a song that sort of speaks to the themes of the season’s emotional arc; and then I use pieces of that instrumentation as the motif throughout the series.

Okay! Before we get too much into History, with Older — that album comes out on Friday the 20th, I believe — I noticed one thing when I was listening to your single, “Satisfaction”, that it’s sort of got an early ’90s feel to it. And especially that song is sort of a “fuck you; I don’t need you; I’m not going to give you the satisfaction” song. Is there something specific that kind of inspired that? Because I know that you’d said elsewhere that the album is meant to be listened to in order from one track to the next. 

So, with “Satisfaction”, the story of the song is of course about an ex, because I believe that that’s the best way to encapsulate the feeling within the narrative of an ex. Like, who is your classic romantic villain but the ex?

Right!

But in terms of what I was trying to communicate and what I was feeling, the idea was — and for this, I really try to emphasize my LGBTQ+ eye toward these situations — that there are a lot of people in your life that want to get a reaction out of you […] We pick fights with each other in order to have a little drama. It’s just what happens and I see it happen regularly. And I could psychoanalyze why that is, but … The point is that if someone is getting on your nerves, think about what their entire is to work you up and get a reaction out of you. So, maybe don’t give them the satisfaction of that; and maybe just move along with your day. And that was sort of the kernel, and then [it] was wrapped in this “ex” sort of narrative in order to be more universal.

I think that that’s true. And a lot of the issues we’re having in the LGBTQ+ community is because of infighting, which makes it hard for us to progress when we really need to be, as long as that’s going on.

Yes!

So, I appreciate you sharing that part of the song. It’s a really solid and important stance to take.

Thank you.

Just to get a little more into History, tell me about how this started as a show, as well as about how Necessary Outlet [Tracy’s production company] got started. 

Okay, so Necessary Outlet sort of started as my “midlife crisis”. It hit when I was in my early thirties and I was in a relationship that I wasn’t very happy in; I was in social circles I wasn’t necessarily happy in; and I had a job that made me a fair amount of money, but I wasn’t really happy with. And I think the pivotal moment was at my 30th birthday party, which I walked out of alone and trudged through an apocalyptic snow storm in New York City, as we tend to get right around my birthday. Then I just sort of thought to myself, Something has to be different. I have got to do something different with my life. This cannot be it. So, in college I was — and even though now I am an attorney — I was a musical theatre major. I loved performance. I was a dancer first, singer second, and actor third. And it was just, you know, why not just use my resources to see if I can do this.

So, the idea was to launch Necessary Outlet, because I wanted a channel of LGBT content that was focused on visibility and telling our stories in a way that the center of the story, or the center of the piece — whether that be music or a series or whatever — is not “I’m gay and I’m fierce. High school sucked; college was meh; now I have money and I have lots of sex; life is amazing; it gets better.” And that’s not to say that that narrative doesn’t need to be told — but it is told. I think by everyone! I think it’s sort of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the center of, I don’t know, how many campaigns? It’s the center of a lot of things. But what I wanted to do was to tell the stories of, “These are just four people who are dating,” or, you know I have a show called Big Law, “This is just a corporate law firm. These are just people working in a corporate law firm and [it just so happens] the protagonist is gay.” The show is not about him being gay. But the protagonist is gay. And it was just about telling our stories — and telling universal stories with an LGBTQ+ point of view.

I think that’s really important. It’s definitely a shift in the perspective of the narrative. Because at that point, you’ve taken away the soap box and made the content easier to relate to and it normalizes LGBTQ+ people. One thing that I noticed with History is that it’s simple in its relatability. In my opinion, that’s done mainly through the characterization of not only [the protagonist] Jamie, but also the supporting characters. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the other characters, as well?

Oh, yeah! Well, when I launched this, I did a little cabaret, and then it was History. And, in order to build everything up, I sort of had to break down and break away from everything that was not helpful to me. So, during that time and right before that time, I had just gone through this break-up and a move-out. And then I was [in this place] where I had been in New York City for ten years and I suddenly felt like I was starting again from zero, and kind of just had to rebuild everything. And through that I was taking a screenwriting course. So, I was writing the script as sort of an exercise, as a practice in [the way of], “Can I write a narrative? Can I do this? Am I good at this?” But that was also very therapeutic. And that’s sort of why the first pass of the scripts sort of just look like angry diary entries. [Laughs]

[Laughs]

And then it sort of got me to a place where I had to set them aside for a year. I’d gotten a new job, so I wanted to focus on the new job and make sure that I was solid there. And then, after a year, I turned back to the scripts. Let’s polish these up and turn them into more of a narrative and make them something. […] Everything in History is based on something — a plot point that has happened to myself or a friend/acquaintance. You know, Will is based off of my best friend; Matthew is based off of another friend; and I found that my skills as a writer was taking real events, finding the relatable emotions and underlying story, then weaving it into a narrative. Not everything happened exactly the way it happened, and not everything happened in quite the order that it happens. But it was sort of like me vision boarding with here are all of these things I find interesting, useful, relevant, or that people could connect to emotionally. Then I had to ask, how can I crack this into a 6-episode arc that tells an overall story?

And so, that’s what I did! [Laughs] Season two happened the same way; and now going into season three.

As a content creator, it is 100% ambition and not letting the fact that you don’t know everything and aren’t particularly qualified to do everything stop you from trying. […] it’s about not letting perfect be the enemy of good; and then putting it out there and moving on to the next thing.

What’s great about History is, sort of like you said, that its foundation is in some underlying level of truth. And from the very first episode, “Void”, when Jamie is sitting in the restaurant with his friend, Bianca, the dialogue feels very authentic and genuine.

Well, thank you very much.

You’re welcome. And to that point, I kind of want to take note that television — especially in the 2010s — does not spend so much time on exposition as it used to. Even looking at shows in the early 2000s like Gilmore Girls, which really spent a lot of time on just dialogue and getting to know characters. I found that to be one of the strong points of History.

Thank you! And that’s partially because I think that’s my strength as a writer: dialogue. And maybe that comes from my legal background, because it’s very — I almost find that style of writing to be like a persuasive brief, or an oral argument.

[Laughs] Yeah, absolutely. 

I mean, Gilmore Girls was great! I love that I get to be compared to something like that. Just the witty turn-of-phrase, the quick back-and-forths and quick returns. That’s what I love. And the shows that I really fell in love with growing up were […] extremely expository. For instance, I’m a huge Star Trek fan; and that show is nothing by sci-fi exposition and techno babble. And then you have things like Will & Grace, where there’s all this quick one-liners and amazing zingers back and forth. I love David E. Kelley shows like Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, The Practice, and [its spin-offs] Boston Legal and Boston Public. I like — well, and also my love for theatre probably plays into that, as well, as a theatre major. I mean, I love dialogue. And when it’s smart, it just captures you and it sucks you in. And I hope that what I’m writing, that’s what it’s going to be like.

Absolutely. And with those shows — like you mentioned Will & Grace, which just recently came back — it’s just “banter-banter-banter-banter-banter”. Even shows like Murphy Brown, which is also coming back, were similar in that regard. Those sort of shows that were built around dialogue-based story telling, we’re seeing now that it’s making a bit of a comeback — even in a bit from the LGBTQ+ perspective. And a lot of where that’s happening is actually outside of network television. 

You’re a part of something that we’re seeing more of now. What that is is that we are kind of existing in this realm — and probably because everything is more accessible to us — wherein more and more people are becoming content creators themselves and tasking themselves in that way; and you’re definitely a part of that. I know from similar experience with our magazine and with my work in television that this is not an easy thing. It does not come without some level of suffering.I mean you aren’t just doing it with History and with Older, but you have your other series, Big Law, not to mention you just wrapped up production on a movie, and then your other show, Millennial Memoir. Can you give your fans a little insight into what that’s like? What is that like wearing so many hats and being in these positions while also working a 9-to-5 job as an attorney? 

So, well … the 9-to-5 is what finances it.

[Laughs]

[Laughs] Right now, I am doing my first attempt at crowdfunding. Everything else has been self-finance. I understand that [crowdfunding] is where most people start; and I’m just very fortunate that I have the resources of my own that I can tap into on my own. Other content creators don’t necessarily always have that. There are some people who don’t have those [resources] and have to do favor-trading with other [artists]. And that’s not to say that my stuff isn’t low budget. But there are some folks who have to go out and grab a $100 HandyCam, or who have to record on their iPhones — but you use what you have to get it done. You do whatever you have to do to get it done, no matter how you do it.

So, I’m doing crowdfunding for season three, because — as you noted — I have a lot of stuff going on and the dollar starts stretching. So, I guess the hardest part in content creating — and I hate that term. I understand it’s the term we’re supposed to use. But for me it’s like, [with faux-arrogance] “Oh, my brand. I’m a content creator. Synergy.”

No, I get that 100%. 

 

 

 

History Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Jack Tracy’s series, “History”, is currently crowdfunding for its third season.

But, as a content creator, it is 100% ambition and not letting the fact that you don’t know everything and aren’t particularly qualified to do everything stop you from trying. I think to be a successful content creator is to fall on your face over-and-over-and-over again; and to learn-and-learn-and-learn and keeping applying those lessons to get better-and-better. It can be demoralizing. You can … I don’t know … make this thing that you think is really great, and then the audio or something isn’t the best, but it was the best that you could do. So, it’s about not letting perfect be the enemy of good; and then just putting it out there and moving on to the next thing.

Now, the community itself is still developing. You know the different showrunners and directors, the people who head this stuff up, are very ambitious people who are focused on their successes. So the community is kind of a community in name only. We see each other certain festivals and at certain events. And there can be favor trading and some, “Oh, use this tech guy or this sound person.” But overall, everyone is very driven and focused on their own thing and trying to get noticed and seen. My take on it, as Necessary Outlet Productions, is that I am not focused on my narrative. I’m focused on LGBT narrative. I’m not focused on one form of narrative. I want movies; I want series; I want albums; I want live shows; I want a theatre production; I want a touring show; I want dance — I want everything.

I saw an interview with Tyler Perry the other day […] and I really appreciated his outlook. And that was that you make it yourself, you create it yourself, you don’t sell anything. You build-and-build-and-build. Then that equity pays off in the future by having this major portfolio and being able to say that you own all this content and can do what you want with it.

No one out there holds the permission to do what you want to do. Don’t wait […] Do everything you want to do; do it now; do it with your all; and don’t wait for someone to tell you to go.

Well, if you think about, Tyler Perry was really one of the pioneers who started this trend of self-creation — especially so for people of our generations.

Yeah!

Before we saw Diary of a Mad Black Woman hit movie theaters, seeing someone put out this much content from the theatre stage to the movie screen and even to television was not really something that was done. And then to be done by a person of color was even more impressive. 

Oh, absolutely.

And to go back to something you said a minute ago, which was that [Tyler Perry] was someone who was not always necessarily the most qualified to do what he was doing, and he was often nailed to a cross by the critics, but he just kept going and never gave up. 

And — did you know? — he now has the largest movie studio. Period. The largest. It’s in Atlanta, they even filmed parts of Black Panther there. It is the largest movie studio.

Oh, and his best friend is Oprah Winfrey. I mean … if Oprah thinks you’re doing a good job, you probably are.

I think that I where I am right now — and I try not to compare myself to anyone because everyone’s experiences are different — but if I were to compare my journey to his journey, I am at the stage of doing the local theatre productions to build the audiences. I am meeting the community through the album. The goal is to start traveling. I have Jersey City Pride booked, I’m hoping to get other Prides booked. I wanna go out and meet the community. Right now, Necessary Outlet is very New York City […] So, the goal is to go out and meet people, then hopefully the album and the tour that I’d love to put together will go along with that.

I think it’s so impressive, everything that you’re doing. It’s even more so impressive because of someone who not only works a 9-to-5, but who is an attorney, which is obviously not an easy job and I’m sure is extremely demanding of your time. Do you sleep? Is there ever a reprieve for you? 

The problem is that I’m like my father and I don’t know how to sit still.

Oh, trust me. I get that.

Like today, I’ll go home from work; then my son — who is a six-year-old cocker spaniel — and I will sit and watch television. And, you know, I was religiously watching RuPaul […] but let me tell you, on commercial breaks, my brain is going. I’m jotting things down; I’m coming up with ideas; I’m making to-do lists; I’m ordering props for the next shoot. Which, we just had the shoot for the second video this past weekend and we have another coming up. But, for me, it’s a matter of “this is a marathon”, so I need to be moving and keeping a steady pace.

Obviously the acclaim for History has been wonderful. You won the Los Angeles Film Award for Best Web Series and soooo many other accolades. What can your audience who have been keeping up with the first two seasons expect from season three?

I will say that anything I share will only happen if we reach our funding goal. We started today [Wednesday, June 11th] and we are at 33% [currently at 41% at time of publication]. We need $7,000 to make it happen, so we’ve gotta get the money. It’s time for our fans to jump in.

The idea for season three is all about taking past circumstances, juxtaposing them with the present, and sort of showing the growth and maturity that comes with being a gay man. It also shows how you evolve, and how program out of situations, and your views on love and friendships uniquely through the lens of a gay man. So, in season one it was putting a break-up from the past up against the present rebuilding of a life. In season two, which began a year later, it was showing the evolution of friendship coupled with the flashbacks of what happened over said year that got us from Point A to Point B and what was different a year later. The flashbacks showed us how events turned, what led us here, and how things got that way. And season three is going back as far as you can go back to answer the question What is love? for Jamie, for Will, and for Matthew. And it’s a sort of answer, I think, for each. For Jamie we are going to see that through his most formative relationship that I think is at the center of every gay man and what he understands love to be. And that is his relationship … with his mother.

Ooooh, okay. So you are really delving into the introspection. 

Yeah! And it’s the first time I cannot play my past self [on screen]; because as young as I may look without a beard, I can no longer pass for 18 anymore.

[Laughs]

So, we’re going to have to actually have to cast a Young Jamie.

Oh! And before we go, give us a little info about the movie you just produced.

Omigod. I am so excited because I just finished the first cut last night. And I cried because I had finally made my first movie. I’m very excited to see it, but I still have a lot of work to do. It’s called Snowflake. It takes place in a world not unlike our own — a political landscape not unlike our own, but from LGBTQ point-of-view. [In it], a Trump-like character has become president. There is a VP who is very much like Mr. Pence. So, the plot is two interwoven stories. One is that of the VP, and one is that of a gay man in New York dealing with the changes in society and the changes in politics that come from that election, how they process their anger, and how far they’re willing to go to protect their [way of] life. It’s very much [about] how a community and society — at least during my lifespan — has socially progress, then reaching a peak where it feels like we’re about to take a dip.

Oh, and without even knowing [at the time of production] what was coming, there’s a lot of [parallel] stuff about the Supreme Court in there. So, I definitely want to get this out immediately. We talk about gun control. We talk about a lot of what’s going on right now, but from an LGBT point-of-view of someone on the ground. [It’s about] how they get past things in their daily lives, their emotional state, their friendships, their ability to concentrate and to have relationships when they are consumed by bad news.

JT Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Jack Tracy at the Older video shoot.

That sounds really, really exciting. I can’t wait to get to see it. And congratulations on finishing your first movie. That is no small accomplishment. 

Thank you very much.

You’re very welcome. So, my last question for you is this: I know we started off this interview saying that all of this started off as a passion project for you and you joked that it was a bit of a midlife crisis for you. So, with that in mind, if you could give younger Jack any small nugget of wisdom, what would that be? 

Oh, let me give that a second of thought. [Laughs] I would say … [Pause for thought] … that there is no one out there who holds the permission to do what you want to do. No one is going to tap you and tell you, “Okay! You can do this. Go do it.” Don’t wait. There is no one out there that is going to give you the permission to do it. Just. Go. And do it. Do everything you want to do; do it now; do it with your all; and don’t wait for someone to tell you to go.


You can follow Jack Tracy online and on social media by clicking the links below:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | SpotifyJack’s Website | Necessary Outlet Website

To purchase “Satisfaction” on iTunes, click here.

To pre-order Older on iTunes, click here.

And to donate to the third season of Jack’s web series, History, click here.