For most queer women, the name Bridget McManus immediately rings a bell. You may recognize her from Logo’s Bridget McManus Presents: That Time of the Month, McManusland, Cowgirl Up, or as Queen Latifah’s sidekick on the first two seasons of The Queen Latifah Show.
McManus also hosted Stonewall Inn’s 40th Anniversary Benefit and was a correspondent for the 8th International Gay Games in Cologne, Germany. Needless to say, her résumé is quite impressive, and also quite gay. McManus’ big passion is to be able to tell our stories, and that’s exactly what she is doing with her upcoming project for lesbian network Tello films.
In her fourth scripted work for Tello films, McManus plays the lead in the series Maybelle. The story follows Maybelle Garris, a 35-year old woman who has spent much of her life taking care of her ailing mother. Now that her mother has passed, Maybelle must learn to restart her life and finally acknowledge her love for her high school best friend, Della Cain Cumbee (Frances Nichols). Though Della is now married to a man, the story focuses mostly on their reconnection and gay life in rural Virginia.
“This is about soulmates reconnecting,” explains McManus. “There aren’t enough lesbian romantic movies, as far as I’m concerned. Someone always commits suicide or their parents don’t approve. So I was like, what if I did a series about two women that were in love and that’s enough? They’re just in love.”
Often called the lesbian Netflix, Tello films is no stranger to telling authentic stories about queer women. “I love Tello because it’s the only company that I know of that is for lesbians and by lesbians,” says McManus.
On top of the stories being written by out women, McManus feels that casting out women has also given the series an advantage. “We’re professional actors that are doing content that we care about and identify with and it’s such a blessing to have a gay leading lady for a gay story.”
“In the past, I have worked with fantastic straight people doing gay roles and they’re like, ‘I’m fine with it. I’m so fine with it.’ But you know that in the back of their minds they’re like, ‘Okay, I have to prep for this gay scene’”, says McManus, “And gay actors are like, ‘Just do it. Just do the scene.’”
Being open and out for all of her career, McManus recognizes the importance of what stories like Maybelle provide for our community. “The message is to be in the moment and be your true self. No matter how much time goes by, or how much you try to escape in your life, you’re always going to come back to who you really are,” she says. “You can run, you can hide, but eventually you’re going to have to face that you are who you are and that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be and it’s good.”
With the release of her new comedy special in 2016 and the recent news that Maybelle will be turned into a feature length film, you can guarantee that McManus will continue to create quality lesbian content that we can relate to. However, knowing the importance of sharing our stories, she wants to encourage everyone in the community to be themselves and to find and share their unique voices.
“There’s only one of you. The world needs your individual perspective. There is nothing wrong with you because it’s great to be your full-fledged you. Don’t try to fit into any category. You don’t have to be a certain weight. You don’t have to get rid of your accent. You don’t have to change yourself to fill a role. What you should do is make your own roles. That’s what makes entertainment interesting.”
Maybelle premiers Sunday, December 13 on tellofilms.com. The series will require a monthly subscription of $4.99. All proceeds go to creating and producing more projects for the queer women’s community.