In Part One of my interview with the Indie Soap Award Nominee, Rachael Hip-Flores shared how ANYONE BUT ME came into her life, and the responsibility of portraying a lesbian teenager. In this part, she shares more about the importance of diversity, her own interests, as well as reactions to the show.
We Love Soaps: Our readers always want me to ask the question: is there anyone special romantically in your life?
Rachael Hip Flores: Yes, I’m engaged. I’m happy about it.
We Love Soaps: Great! And what kinds of soaps or continuing stories have you enjoyed?
Rachael Hip Flores: Anything that had aliens or ghosts in it.
We Love Soaps: Like ROSWELL?
Rachael Hip Flores: Yes. Or X-FILES. When I was little, it might have creeped my parents out how much I loved this series. Now LOST. And HEROES, of course. In terms of non-alien /ghost stories, DAWSON’S CREEK was an embarrassingly big influence in my life. I spent a good portion of my adolescence trying to be Katie Holmes. When I was very young, I was watching the original 90210. I had posters of Luke Perry on my wall.
We Love Soaps: Another thing that excites about web soaps has to do with the issue of diversity. It seems ANYONE BUT ME has one of the most diverse casts, more diverse than anything we will see on network televsion.
Rachael Hip Flores: Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the world at large.
We Love Soaps: The shows you described, 90210, DAWSON’S CREEKS, they were good shows. But compared to ANYONE BUT ME they are so homogenized. Was that important to you to be in a project that celebrated and appreciated diversity?
Rachael Hip Flores: Yes. I come from two generations of mixed marriages. My mother is second or third generation Italian Swiss. My father was born and raised in Cuba. His father was raised in China. So I am Cuban, Chinese, Italian, and Swiss.
We Love Soaps: And you have relatives in all these places?
Rachael Hip Flores: I do! I haven’t been to Cuba but Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong, yeah. It’s pretty great when you want to travel.
We Love Soaps: When you’re walking down the street in New York City, do you get recognized for ANYONE BUT ME?
Rachael Hip Flores: I got recognized on the elevator this morning! Yeah, I do. It’s weird because you see it evolving. When we first started out it was like, “I think I’ve seen you, have we met....oh I think I know you...” And now it’s like [they say], “Anyone But Me...got it.”
We Love Soaps: Have you had to make any adjustments for that?
Rachael Hip Flores: No, I don’t have the paparazzi banging down the door yet. Like I said, the fans have been so positive. It’s never been like, “You’re on a gay show, I’m going to throw paint on you!” It’s been like, “Oh I love your show, I watch it all the time, when is the next episode going to come out?” Whenever I am recognized it’s accompanied by a lot of thank you and “I love your show.”
We Love Soaps: Has there been any negative reaction? I know myself that sometimes people feel they have leeway on the internet to use their words in a way they would not use in person.
Rachael Hip Flores: I think of the hundreds or thousands of comments, I think I’ve seen maybe one. And that was recent. I stopped reading it after awhile, people are going to have their opinions. But overall, let me tell you, I get friended on FaceBook by people who, to read their profile, I would assume are not particularly pro-gay rights, are really touched by the show. It’s not just the GLBT community.
We Love Soaps: And that’s one of the things I love about the show. It’s not just a teen drama, it’s not just a lesbian drama. And the themes that come up around love, loss, distance, 9/11, these are such universal themes. It’s about people trying to connect and bumping heads along the way. It seems now in Season Two, Vivian’s relatioship with Sophie is being explored. Can you give us any sneak peeks for the rest of the season?
Rachael Hip Flores: I can’t! I wish I could. I know nothing! Episode three just aired. I think there is a draft of episode four in my e-mail. And beyond that, we have nothing. Tina Ward and Susan Miller [ANYONE BUT ME's Producer and Writer] are really quite clandestine about the whole thing. I wish I could give you something, I have nothing to give you.
We Love Soaps: What would you like to see happen for Vivian?
Rachael Hip Flores: Of course I want to see her happy. I also want to see her kind of grow up a little bit. It’s weird because she’s had so much to deal with and eventually that will make her someone really kick ass, confident, and strong. But we’re not at that part yet. I would like to see her take a more active role in the events [in her life]. A lot of things are happening to her right now. I want to see have the confidence to make that happen. And I think we saw that a bit in episode ten of season one. I think there’s still a lot of caution and hesitancy in her and I’d like to see her break out of that a bit.
We Love Soaps: She’s so pragmatic. I love the show, but sometimes she’s almost too perfect. She really thinks clearly and is really rational. I’m not sure if that’s true for teenagers, especially when they’re dealing with such stress.
Rachael Hip Flores: I know. It’s weird to say, “I want her to grow up,” because she already is so grown up. But she doesn’t only have just this [one] thing to deal with. Aside from her sexuality, she has moving to a new place. She also has a sick father and an absent mother figure. I think there’s a lot going on that she has previously had to deal with that we haven’t seen, but things that make her a bit more considered.
We Love Soaps: Are we going to learn more about her mother?
Rachael Hip Flores: I don’t know! I certainly hope so. That’s something I find very intriguing about her. But I can’t even begin to tell you.
We Love Soaps: What, if anything, have you learned about yourself from portraying Vivian?
I think I’ve learned to think things out more. I think I’m more aware of the effect I have on other people as a human being. Not just an actress, but as a human being.
Rachael Hip Flores: There are daily things, these interactions, that people go through, and I don’t think they actually have a respect for how much power you have over other people. I think she inherently understands that. She trips up a little bit sometimes, but her caution and her considerateness is not exclusively selfish, she really does think about a wider picture. I think she has made me more aware of the people around me.
We Love Soaps: And clearly you are having an affect on the many many people that are communicating with you. And I’m sure there are many many more that are not communicating with you. Is there anytihing you want to say to anyone who is reading this, watching your show, and struggling in their own life? Someone who may want to come out but is too afraid?
Rachael Hip Flores: I want to say just be as true to yourself as you can safely be. It’s an incredibly hard struggle to go through. It’s so personal, and so inherent to who you are. I don’t think anyone should deny that part of themselves. At the same time, it’s not always safe. If you’re in Uganda right now, you’re screwed, it’s awful. So be aware of the people around you and be as safe and good to yourself as you can be.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please enjoy the series nominated for 10 Indie Soap Awards at anyonebutmeseries.com.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.