Move over L-Word. There’s a group of smart and sexy lesbians of color coming to YouTube this summer and you won’t want to miss them.
The Tampa-based production company, LaJoi Media, debuted its series premiere of “My Beautiful Pain” on YouTube earlier this week.
“The meaning behind the name references when something may be beautiful to you, but not always good for you,” says producer Ashley Wooten.
Wooten, who has progressed through a series of sales positions in the healthcare and IT fields, has always had an entrepreneurial mind and a passion for film.
“I’ve always been into TV and films and always wondered who’s behind everything. I questioned why there weren’t black directors, especially black female directors. I want to be the person behind the camera.”
Wooten expresses concerns over stereotypical depictions of women of color and lesbians in TV and film. “I want to show our community in a different light. I want to build myself up as a director and writer and make a name for myself so I can make a difference.”
According to Wooten, the YouTube series focuses on a group of entrepreneurial lesbians of color who are determined to succeed as “the first black LGBT network.” While trying to build their company from the ground up, the characters run into several trials and tribulations along the way.
Wooten has toyed with show concepts over the past few years, including a prior series titled “Crucial Moves,” but something about “My Beautiful Pain” kept pulling her back to its storyline.
Dominiqua Gardener, who plays Asia Daniels in the series, came to Wootten one day and said, “we need to do this.”
So in April, the team got to work casting roles and filming.
Although Wooten held a few casting calls, the majority of actors were selected through existing relationships and outreach on social media. Each cast member commits at least 10-20 hours per week of their own personal time to film the series.
Wooten’s co-producer and girlfriend, Jessica Lindsey, who also plays Kira Matthews in the series, originally hails from Detroit Michigan and has sacrificed time from pursuing her nursing career at Hillsborough Community College to help Wooten and the cast move the show forward.
“I am so blessed and honored to be a part of this show,” says Lindsey.
The majority of the show’s funding comes out of Wooten and Lindsey’s pockets. “We have a GoFund Me account, but we need more help to take this film to the next level,” says Wooten.
“We work to fund the project,” Lindsey interjects.
The team currently relies on basic-level DSLR cameras to film the show, although the casual observer might think otherwise. “We use what we have, but hope to get better equipment as the series continues.”
While Wooten dreams of getting picked up by a TV network, she intends to remain humble and dedicated to her team. “I’m doing this to help my cast. I want to give folks the opportunity to make it big and this might give them the platform they need.”
“My long-term goal is to have my own network. TV One is owned by a black man. OWN is 50% black-owned,” Wooten says referencing Oprah’s network. “We need a black lesbian owned network that highlights women of color in successful roles. It’s time.”
“My Beautiful Pain” provides all of the drama and excitement one might expect to find in a lesbian drama: love triangles, alcoholism, divorce, unsupportive parents, sexual tension, and lots more!
Wooten admits that many of the stories are from her own life experiences. “Tory, Chris and Rene’s story is a love Triangle I was in back in 2013. This led up to me writing this series.”
The show will air every other Thursday on the LaJoi Media TV YouTube Channel. Although the pilot show was only 15 minutes long, Wooten says that the following episodes will be longer.
To follow the series, click here.
To view the pilot episode, click here.
Cast and Crew:
- Director/Producer: Ashley L. WootenTori Nelson: Jayme “Novacane” Jennings
- Tori Nelson: Jayme “Novacane” Jennings
- Renee Stevenson: Jolie Dopa
- Asia Daniels: Domoniqua Gardener
- Kira Matthews: Jessica Lindsey
- Kacey Edwards: J’Kera Shamburger
- Christina “Chris” Jones: Caress Amanique
- Nina Singleton: Shannon Smith
- Monique “Moe” Singleton: Jessia “Jay” Bennett
- Bryce Washington: Michael “Chico” Wilks
- Kendra Jennings: De’Andrea Edwards
- Cherice Hopskins: Herself