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Art Find Your Place with actor and founder Chloe Freeman

Jan. 3, 2022
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Find Your Place is a series of conversations and photographs with artists in their homes, captured online. It examines the current intersection of the physical and digital, sharing perspectives across different cities. Each discussion explores the themes of identity, creativity, and how we find our sense of self.

Chloe Freeman is driven by the desire to see and make stories. Founder of the production company Boycott Entertainment, they are inspired by the power of film and diverse storytelling. In addition to their work pioneering artists behind the screen, Freeman stars as the lead character alongside Liv Hewson, Bobby Salvör Menuez, and Lex Ryan in the acclaimed independent film Under My Skin. With its recent U.S. premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in April, it centers the story of nonbinary character Denny, highlighting themes of identity and understanding. For our interview, we discussed upcoming projects, the escapism of film, and finding community.

Adolescent Content: How would you describe Under My Skin?

Chloe Freeman: It’s a story about a person called Denny who goes on a journey in relation to their gender. Denny is in a relationship with a cisgender white male, so it’s about the struggles of that and understanding who they are. They have four different actors play the role. All the actors are nonbinary. We all look, speak, and walk through life completely differently. It’s a good way of showing that being nonbinary can look like anything. It’s a bit of a coming-of-age story but in terms of gender.

Adolescent: What was it like sharing the same character with your costars?

Chloe: From an acting perspective, you [usually] look at the whole character and think about how they change from start to end. When you’re taking a slice of that, you need to make sure you’re not influenced by anyone else’s interpretation to see what you’re bringing to it. The great thing about it was seeing all these amazing nonbinary actors interpret the same character. We all had different experiences in terms of our gender identity [from] how we wear our hair, to how we dress, to how we think about transitioning or not.

Adolescent: It’s a great way of expressing that everyone goes through these evolutions but it doesn’t always look the same.

Chloe: That’s so true. If you take the word “gender” out of it and just think about “who am I? How do I want to present to the world and how do I present in private? How do I want the world to see me?” We all go through that. Shoutout to the people who were involved in the film—Alex Russell, who plays Denny’s partner, and David O’Donnell, the director. They’re both straight cis males and did a great job of making everyone feel safe and trying to understand the intricacies of this character. We had a beautiful person called Raynen [O’Keefe] who helped David write and give insight into the community. Everyone was so open. There’s a big education [component] that you don’t want to ram down people’s throats, but at the same time, what is film’s purpose if not to highlight and to educate? 

Adolescent: What inspired you to found Boycott Entertainment?  

Chloe: It was already in the works, but Under My Skin solidified the vision. It [originally] started when I left acting school. There was a push in the industry for diversity on screen. While there was an increase on camera, behind the camera seemed to be all the same type of person. How can you truly have diversity if the writer, director, cinematographer, and crew members are all the same race and gender? I started to think about how I could truly [bring] change in an organic and impactful way. I thought I could build a business focusing on diversity behind the screen. I pitched it to a few investors and Sam Scripps kindly offered to fund us. We made our first film, MIA, last year. We chose a talented queer writer and actor [Kate Vozella], and Jack Fitzgerald directed it. Jack’s an amazing cinematographer and has been involved in Lord of the Rings, True Detective, and Under My Skin. [In the future] we’re thinking of creating a writers’ development program where we pair experienced and [emerging] writers and Boycott will produce the work.

Adolescent: Does “boycott” come from the idea of pushing back against mainstream media?

Chloe: Exactly. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but we like to think we’re against the status quo. There are so many talented people in this industry that don’t get opportunities. My agent gave me a shot [when] I had nothing on my resume. This is how you make change—from the inside out.

Adolescent: What were some early formative experiences that inspired your journey into film?

Chloe: When I was younger, film was a little bit of a lifeline. As time went on, it became something that I looked for myself in. I [remember] watching The L Word when I was younger, and I just couldn’t believe it. I [thought], “This isn’t quite who I am, but I’m here somewhere.” I was searching for myself. That’s what drives me now—a young version of me, if they were born now, would have much more to look at that would make them feel comfortable in their skin.

Adolescent: What advice would you give your younger self?

Chloe: Seek community wherever you can find it. I would have sought community when I was younger, but I don’t think I really found any queer friends until I was older.  My journey to find my identity would have happened much sooner and I would’ve been, I believe, a bit more fulfilled and happier to pursue my dreams.

Find @chloefreeman and @boycottentertainment on Instagram.

This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.