Noted Queer Actress-Director Clea DuVall On How LGBTQ+ Representation Has Changed Over The Years

Over the past few years there’s been a great deal of conversation about representation in the media. Specifically the power of seeing one’s self on the screen, especially for young and vulnerable audiences. And noted queer actress-director Clea DuVall recently spoke to CinemaBlend about how LGBTQ+ representation has changed over the years.

Clea DuVall is an accomplished multitalent, who has had a thriving career in TV and film for decades. DuVall is also a filmmaker in her own right, recently working on projects like the queer holiday rom-com Happiest Season and the upcoming Amazon Freevee series High School. As you can see in the video above, I had the privilege of speaking with DuVall about the latter project, where I asked her about how observations of queer representation in the media. She told me:

I think it has changed a lot. When I started out, having a queer character at all was such a big deal, much less an entire show or movie that was about a queer person. And now I feel there are so many queer stories, and so many kinds of queer stories in so many different genres. In the movies, on mainstream television. It doesn’t feel like that much of an event to have a queer character now. And you don’t need to just have one. It is becoming way more the norm. It’s weirder when there isn’t a queer character.

There you have it. Clea DuVall has witnessed change in the TV and film world firsthand, seeing how queer characters went from being rare to being a normal presence throughout various genres. It’s definitely exciting to reflect on the progress that’s happened, although there’s always more steps forward to be made, like with how transgender stories are told.

As previously mentioned, I spoke to Clea DuVall at the press junket for Freevee’s High School, which is an upcoming series based on the iconic LBGTQ+ music group/twin sisters Tegan and Sara. DuVall directed a number of episodes, and worked with her friends Tegan and Sara on adapting their childhood stories for the small screen. And that includes how the pair of musicians came out to the world and each other as queer people.

Clea DuVall in Veep

(Image credit: HBO)

Clea DuVall has played a number of beloved LGBTQ+ characters throughout the course of her career, including the groundbreaking 1999 satirical comedy But I’m a Cheerleader opposite Natasha Lyonne. She’s also played queer women in projects like Veep, American Horror Story, Broad City, and The Hanndmaid’s Tale, where she recently returned for the premiere of Season 5. Given both her work and experience as an audience member, she’s been able to see how the industry gradually started featuring more queer characters. And as she explained to me, now it’s almost strange when there aren’t LGBTQ+ characters in any given project.

On top of playing queer women, Clea DuVall has also used her talents as a director to tell authentic LGBTQ+ stories. Happiest Season was a major hit on Hulu in December of 2020, and featured A-listers like Kristen Stewart. Now she’s gearing up for the release of High School, which is an intimate and accurate portrayal of being a young queer person in the 1990’s. 

High School debuts October 14th on Amazon Freevee. In the meantime, check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.