Before the release of the new season of Drag Heals, I had the opportunity to chat with Charlie David, the show’s director. Coming out on October 2nd, this new season of the hit show that focuses on drag as a way to grow. Thank you to Charlie David for chatting with me via email about the series.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I live in Toronto with my partner and feel lucky to do what I love every day working as a screenwriter, director and producer in film and TV. I make content for the LGBTQ audience because when I was growing up, people that represented those letters and lived experiences were rarely found in history books, TV shows, or movies. By default, we didn’t exist at all and so there were no positive mentors to be found as queer kids. Historically, when queer people were found in media, their lives were often represented as evil, mentally unstable, criminal, sinful, and those society should convert or reject. My mission in the things I create is to show beauty, love, creativity, and humanity in the people in our society who don’t fall into the norm. We’re all deserving of a full, beautiful, creative and loving life.
How would you describe Drag Heals?
Drag Heals is a TV series that shares the lives of people exploring gender through the art of drag. This isn’t a competition reality show. It’s a surprising, complex, journey of finding the most transformative moments in your personal life and turning it into a performance to share with a live audience. We’re witnessing our heroes go out into the wilderness to face some often dark and challenging personal demons in order to return with the elixir of life – lessons that we can all learn and grow from. The work of a director demands watching the episodes multiple times in the creative process from assembles to rough cuts to fine cuts to polishes to sound mixes to color sessions, etc. But it was never tedious because the cast individually and unanimously revealed their heart, day after day and in each moment. When you have the opportunity to witness something that tender and vital, it’s a joy to repeat the process because it exercises my heart and the act of empathy with each viewing. I feel incredibly grateful and humbled to have worked with such an incredible and special group of people in front of and behind the camera on this series.
With a second season coming out on October 2nd, why do you think this series has been such a hit?
I love reading the reviews online for Drag Heals because people really gush about how transformative it was for them as an audience member. It’s so rewarding knowing we’re reaching out beyond the TV screen and able to squeeze people’s hearts in such a life-affirming way. That’s the most magical thing we can do as artists – incite conversations and ideally catharsis in the shared experience with the audience. It’s important to elevate drag as a true artform. For some it’s long been relegated to the sidelines and it’s very much deserving of all the spotlights now swinging in its direction. What we’re hoping to do is expand upon the traditional ideas of what drag is and also swing the doors wide open for people of all genders, age, ethnicity, sexuality and culture to see a place for themselves in this community and an invitation to play and explore.
What are some of the things viewers can expect in this new season?
In the second season of Drag Heals our cast is not homogenous in any sense and that brought rich and challenging conversations around the language we use, how we dress, what we borrow and steal from each other knowingly and naively. Those conversations as a family of artists are not easy but they are imperative. We have to walk through the fire in order to burn humbly and brightly.
Why do you think drag has the ability to spur on such personal growth?
I really feel that the health and wellness of the planet as well as our communities depends upon art. Art heals, art creates conversations and catharsis. It is the single most powerful tool in our humanity and we must honor it, cherish it, celebrate it wherever we can. The act of play is the embodiment of creation and when we are in the act of creation, we embody our highest calling and our inherent oneness and divinity. It doesn’t get much better than that! Drag can be therapeutic in so many ways. Gender roles and concepts are thrust upon children from birth and then reinforced over and over. There’s a lot of unacknowledged fear and shame that can be worked through in a safe and healing environment through the act of play and within an art form like drag.
What inspired the creation of Drag Heals?
Season One of Drag Heals was very much an organic documentary discovery. Director of Photography Nickolaos Stagias and myself were invited to a workshop that our host and creator Tracey Erin Smith was putting on and we brought a camera and a mic and started filming. We didn’t know then that it would evolve into a television series, we just knew we were witnessing something very special. That gritty, small team style of season one evolved into a larger technical team for the second season and we crafted the second season in a more thoughtful way in terms of inclusive casting and a planned trajectory of the workshop themes. I like plans, I like maps, I like to know where I’m going. With a series like Drag Heals, I can have that but I also need to be always at the ready to throw it away and follow something new, to trust and act on my creative impulses as a director and storyteller to acknowledge that a better story, a more interesting moment may begin to play out and by practicing setting ego and plans aside, we can often unearth the most beautiful treasure.
Where can our readers find the series?
Drag Heals (Seasons 1 and 2) are available on OUTtvGo, Amazon, Apple TV, Vimeo and more.
Beyond that, where can they keep up with you and the show online?