A lil (Black & Sexy) positivity for Black History month…
Numa Perrier Dishes On “The Couple” & “Octavia: Elegy For A Vampire”
Numa Perrier is a refreshing film maker whose “Black & Sexy TV” series “The Couple” recently caught the eye of HBO execs who couldn’t help but relate to the real life situations of “Chick” and “Dude”; the program’s quirky duo.
In addition to making art behind the scenes, Perrier’s skills extend to acting via online mediums and in”Octavia: Elegy For A Vampire”centered around a woman burdened with everlasting life and haunted by history.
Below Perrier dishes on her beginnings, her role in bringing black humanity to television and her work with director Dennis Leroy Kangalee.
Tell us about your background.
My background is in acting, art and film making. I’ve been working in all three worlds since I was pretty young, more so in the art and film making world as a young adult. I was doing photography around the time Dennis Dortch started doing [the movie] “A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy” and he wanted me to help out with photography and marketing for the film. I started helping doing photo shoots for the merchandising and photographed the movie poster. We had many things in common and one thing lead to another as far as starting Black & Sexy TV. Once we started filming short vignettes on each character, that’s what got our imagination going about what we could do online. We knew there were a lot of fans out there and then we started envisioning and dreaming up an entire world of content.
Tell us about the HBO development deal for”The Couple.”
We’ve been going along building our content show by show, one at at time. We were on the second season of “The Couple” and we got a phone call out of the blue and it was an executive from HBO. She hunted us down and was so excited about the series and she really felt like it reflected her which is funny because she’s an older Jewish woman. She felt a real connection to my character in particular and she invited us to sit down with her about what we could possibly do with HBO. If there’s any network that we wanted to work with, HBO would be number one. We talked about what the show cold be and they moved forward with a development deal.
Why do you think your shows connect with people from various backgrounds?
I think it’s because we’ve really figured out a way to extract humanity instead of caricature. Once you do that, once you make someone human then any human can relate to humanity. We’re so focused on doing something that’s real and stripped down. Everybody goes through real life things. She [the HBO executive] talks to me about her prior relationships and her current relationships and we can sit and talk for hours. We became fast friends. She’s really excited about what we’re doing and she just gets a kick out of it. Everybody has always thought that my costar Desmond [Faison]and I are a real couple. They’ve then been devastated to they find out that I’m actually a real couple with the director [Dennis Dortch]. We’re all very intimate like that. It’s all fun, we all enjoy it and we do it all for the art.
You’re also starring in the film “Octavia: Elegy For A Vampire” directed by Dennis Leroy Kangalee. We don’t see a lot of black films on vampires, what drew you to this project?
It’s so crazy because I’ve never been a vampire enthusiast, I’ve never seen “Twilighy”, I always found it fascinating but not enough to where I thought it was part of my trajectory. I did however always want to play a timeless character, I’ve always been very suited for period pieces and I’ve had fantasies of doing something from the 80s and doing something colonial or set in the 30s and 40s. I always wanted to play a role where I thought I could really spread my wings and bring a lot of my oddities in myself to the role. I get to do that a little with “The Couple”, I get to be an odd bird. So for this role I became aware with Dennis as an artist and filmmaker [first] through an Indie Wire blog and he wrote something so beautiful and I was really connected to his approach to film making and art. I reached out to him and we had an instant kinship. Through that relationship one thing lead to another and they needed a lead role for this film [so I considered it] because the premise was interesting to me. When they sent the script to me I stayed up all night reading it. It’s a juicy role, but it’s a real role. I look at her [Octavia] as a human being and not a vampire or a supernatural character. He was able to extract the humanity out of this vampire. It’s kind of the role of the lifetime, it feels like it to me.
What’s next for you in 2015?
With “Black & Sexy TV” we’re launching a subscription service which is a huge thing for our company. People are really eager for it and we’re beefing up our content. It’s great because we’re bringing more people in to help with things and that leaves me more room to do what I love which is acting. I’ll be able to go away to film “Octavia”, there’s a couple of films that I’ll be shooting this year and then I’m always working on my art work. I’ll be doing a few exhibitions this year.
Erik Swan, D.P.