By Bradd Howard
Tell us about your new series.
BARRETT: I’m really excited about it. It’s called ‘Work in Progress’ and it is a 6 episode half-hour comedy. I wrote it, I directed it, I starred in it. I also edited it. I call it homemade television. I had my hands and my paws all over it. My mom did costumes, my dad helped produce. I got all my friends and family to be in it. My aunt and uncle who are dairy farmers are in an episode. It was really a community endeavor. It is a limited season, with just six episodes. I don’t know if there will be a season 2, I’ve already sketched out a season 2 but we’ll just see how the audience reacts. I am looking forward as this is the final stage of the creative process to share what we have been working on for a year.
I hear that HereTV snatched you right out of school for a development deal?
B: (Barrett laughs) kinda yeah.
How did it happen?
B: So, I graduated from Northwestern in 2012, and not too long after that I made a web series with a friend and we just made it for fun. We were kind of sick of… she was a writer and I was an actor and a writer and we were sick of doing other people’s projects and wanted to have a little more creative control. We wrote our own web series and made it for fun, basically with zero budget. It was all friends from college who worked on it, lighting and camera, etc. That web series was called Tiny Nuts. My dad was friends with Paul Colichman who owns HereTV and I got in touch with John Mongiardo who was in charge of production of HereTV at the time and he liked Tiny Nuts so much that he agreed to license it and we made a licensing agreement to HereTV and then they licensed it to Hulu and it has been on Hulu and HereTV for four years. Then last year Pride.com, another one of Paul Colichman’s assets, approached me and said “We love Tiny Nuts, can you do some man on the street interviews? Some comedy stuff” and I said yeah, let’s do it! Those went well too. John Mongiardo then took a look at those interviews and a look at Tiny Nuts and then offered me a T.V. show. Anything I wanted. He said whatever you want to do, let’s make it!
Being an out person in the entertainment industry, what messages do you want to share and what would you want to be heard?
B: Sure, first of all, for me, I think it’s a privilege to be out. I think for me visibility is a priority and I am lucky enough to be in a position where I can safely and confidently be out in my personal life and my professional life. So, I really want to be vocal for all of those people in the world who can’t be out. It is essential to me that my art and my activism are one in the same. I want to center LGBT stories, characters, I want to celebrate queer culture, queer community. I basically want to see media that I would have benefitted from seeing when I was little. Growing up queer in the 90’s. Every day it’s getting better but I was so nervous even though I grew up in Los Angeles. I was hyper scared about admitting to myself that I was gay and I know that had I had some more cultural touchstones to reference it would have been easier for me to see people who look like me, established friend groups, happy endings, I know it would have helped. I am trying to provide that for the younger generation.
I understand, growing up like you - queer in the 90’s - Ellen DeGeneres was all we really had. She’s great, and we love her, but we need more people like you sharing your stories, so thank you for that.
B: I love Ellen but I agree it is important to have a diversity of backgrounds and stories and perspectives, absolutely. The more the merrier in the queer space, I think.
What future projects do you have going on?
B: I am working on a couple of documentary series for HereTV. One is called Inside the Rainbow and it’s a pretty happy series. I was feeling pretty fatigued after the election and the general sense of chaos in the country and the negativity, so I wanted to tap my lens on people in the queer community who are doing amazing social work, social good. Whether that is through radical astrology like Chani Nicholas or the fun raps of queer rapper, Big Dipper. Each one is under 10 minutes. I am really excited about that series and it is really wonderful to meet with these people who are doing good work. Another short series I am doing is called Queer Family Tree. That’s fun. We are going to release that during Pride in June. I sit down with a queer person, [LGBTQIA] I’m trying to get as much diversity as possible. I sit them down and I ask them how did you know you were queer? What do you like about being queer? What do you dislike about being queer? What was your coming out process like? And what would you like to tell your younger self? I am hoping to develop a large archive of these interviews so that people can be inspired by hearing other people’s stories and journeys.
If you were going to leave a legacy, what would you want that to be?
B: I think that is the hardest question I have ever fielded. I want to generate compassion. I want to help people love themselves and love others and I hope that my art can help people in that way become more compassionate because I think that is the biggest obstacle for acceptance, compassion, and empathy. If I can help even a little bit to bolster that, I would be proud of that.
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