Drama-Filled Life, An Interview with Dane Joseph

Photos (c)  Novo Novous Productions

Dane Joseph, born in Detroit, Michigan and resident of New York City, is a writer,  actor, and filmmaker. He’s co-Executive Producer of DRAMA QUEENZ, the popular web series that follows three friends as they deal with life, love and auditioning process in New York City. Joseph received his masters in Arts Administration from Columbia University and did the national tour of Elton John and Tom Rice’s AIDA. He has written many plays including ALEX M, REFLECTIONS IN A DITCH and BLUBOIZ2DEEP. PrideIndex had the pleasure of talking to him here’s what the performer, who counts Angela Bassett, Quentin Tarantino and Lee Daniels as his influences, had to say about DRAMA QUEENZ, and his current projects.

PRIDEINDEX: How did a Detroit native end up studying filmmaking in New York?

DANE JOSEPH: I’ve never formally studied filmmaking.  I’ve done theater all my life and moved to the city after I did the national tour of AIDA following college.  My experiences with my roommates Troy and Kristen, both of whom I knew growing up in Detroit, inspired DRAMA QUEENZ and we kinda learned as went, we’re still learning.

PI: You have appeared Elton John and Tom Rice’s AIDA, have you put aside your acting career on hold to concentrate on writing and producing?

DJ: I most definitely made a conscious decision to go back to grad school (which I just finished) so that I can produce the plays and movies and TV shows I’ve had in my mind since I was a kid.  When I was younger I loved to produce; I would gather the neighborhood kids around to make them all do plays for my poor mother in either our backyard or the library.  God bless her heart.  But producing has always been a passion of mine…I love to create against all adversity.

PI: Drama Queenz has become popular at film festivals and Black Gay Prides across the country; where did the inspiration for the show come from?

DJ: As I stated earlier, Kristen, Troy, and I were roommates in the City, and everyone was always telling us how funny we were and that we needed a reality TV show.  Well…we don’t do reality very well.  What we do do well is work cohesively to craft things (ever since we were 12 years old).  And we had so many funny stories from auditions and dating and just plain life that eventually I just wrote some scripts, I showed them and they said let’s get a camera.

Production Still from Drama Queenz

PI: How do you decide what topics to cover in the series?

DJ: The topics really come direct from our personal experiences or those of our friends and family.  We weren’t very “socially” conscious initially, but have really made an effort this season to address certain topics in the LGBT community of color. We feel it’s not only right but also relevant to join in and help spread the conversation about the various issues that matter to both us and our viewer and that decision has been the right one so far; really opening up the show into a new realm.

PI: Name 3 people who have most influenced your artistic style.

DJ: Angela Bassett (because her focus within her craft is unmatched); Quentin Tarantino (he is a master storyteller through both words and imagery); Lee Daniels (watching his work is like a master class).

PI: What do you believe is the biggest misconception is about you or your work?

DJ: I’ve read things about us not being “real” or being too “fem,” but the reality is that what you see is pretty much what you get with us.  We’re always keeping it real, and you can label it however you want to label it.  We’re very comfortable in who we are, and we’re not going to become “unreal” in order to fit into your definition of who we should be or how we should act.  Sorry for the rant, but it’s maddening to have someone tell you that you’re not being real and that’s all you know how to be…ah, well.  C’est la vie.

PI: Tell us more about the documentary series FADE-IN; why do you believe it’s so important to bring awareness to plight of the homeless youth?

DJ: I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be young and on the streets of New York City with nowhere to go, completely abandoned or fleeing by choice because of your sexuality.  So many people can mistreat or take advantage of these youth, and they’re beginning their adulthood not only battling societal hostility, but also a host of other emotional/spiritual issues that are no doubt connected to their sexuality and living situation.  It was something that just broke my heart to think of, and upon hearing the testimony of a former homeless lesbian youth at an event we were at, we knew we had to do our part to bring awareness to this epidemic that disproportionately affects gay youth of color.

PI: What can the community do to become more involved in FADE-IN?

DJ: I think volunteering one’s time is always important to the shelter or nonprofit of your choice.  Donating money also helps tremendously provide vital services to these youth for free. And if you think the awareness aspect is very important, you could also toss a few coins our way and donate at www.novonovus.com.  Even a $1 helps us keep producing positive quality work to spread the word.

PI: Talk a little bit about some of the other projects that you are working on.

DJ: I’m currently working on LANGSTON’S, a feature film by four black/Latino gay filmmakers about gay men of color at a popular Brooklyn night club who are linked together by a tragic act.  It is really a microcosm of the LGBTQ community of color today and is probably the finest script I’ve ever worked on.  We’re trying to raise $50,000 to have this done right by January 14, 2011, so any assistance (again, even $1 helps) is always appreciated.  One can learn more (and donate) at http://kck.st/langstons.

PI: In the distance future your great, great, great, grand children will be having a big argument about your accomplishments as a Writer/Producer versus your accomplishments as an Actor.  Who should win the argument? Why?

DJ: I sincerely hope to accomplish more as a producer…really creating memorable works that will stand the test of time for those future generations.  That said, I’d be extremely humbled and blessed if I’m able to make an impact in either arena to necessitate such arguments.  It’s my hope to excel however and wherever God sees fit, and I’m ready.