Feeling Sonderful With Tessa Glanville and Will Sterling
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Episode · 3 years ago

Feeling Sonderful With Tessa Glanville and Will Sterling

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Everyone plays the lead in the story of their own life. Will Sterling and Tessa Glanville are both involved in a brand new web series called Sonder. Tessa is making her acting debut and Will Sterling, in addition to acting in the series himself, is one of the creators and writers. It’s created to be watched entirely on Instagram, shot vertically, and it premieres next month. Be sure to follow Will and Tessa on IG. Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Sebastian Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Straw hut media. Saunder noun the realization that each random passer by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. You may have seen it before on a friend's instagram or back in the old days of Tumbler. The word was coined by a guy named John Koenig. He's the founder and author of the dictionary of obscure sorrows, an online and in print dictionary of made up words to describe our most complex and abstract emotions. You know when you have an experience that you can only describe as indescribable. This guy's trying to help, but we're not talking to John Konick today. Instead, we're talking to two people who heard that word saunder and created an entire series around it. Tessa Glanville is making her acting debut in this instagram web series, and will stirling, in addition to acting in the series himself, is one of the creators and writers. It's created to be watched entirely on Instagram, shot vertically and at premieres next month. I'm me by chambers and this is pride. Last October, Hurricane Michael hit Florida. It was a category five storm with sustained winds of up to a hundred and fifty miles an hour. It did a lot of damage, around twenty five billion dollars in the US alone, by some estimates. The damage was enough to move Tessa out of Florida and all the way over to southern California. My Name's Tessa Glandville and I'm from Florida. Earlier this year Tessa moved to San Diego with her boyfriend. They met back in Florida, where he had been deployed by the military to help with the hurricane relief efforts, and dated for about six months. When it was time for him to go back to California, Tessa went with him and I lost like a lot in Florida. I had like a business and everything, and they're just nothing there for me any more. So I came Michael over here with him to like start over. Before the hurricane, Tessa had been working as a massage therapist and ANESTA Titian for five years. Even though her business was physically okay, after the storm, people just weren't spending money at the SPA. So moving to California made sense. It was also appealing to move somewhere a little more liberal and open minded because she lived and worked in a very conservative part of Florida. Fear of losing work was a big factor and her decision to come out. People in communities like these can be very vocal about their animosity toward people that don't fit neatly inside of their narrow gender definitions. Yeah, like I would have clients who would, you know, book sessions with me and come into, you know, the business and they would see that I was trans and like they would just like walk out or refuse to like have me even touch them. I had people do the whole you know, get saved like the Bible, you know, talking about. I had those. I had people when I worked at a SPA, when they try to get me fired that it was sexually inappropriate to have someone like me working in a spa where I'm touching people like this. The mind that they have I don't understand and when I tried to understand it, like I just I can't. Like I just get like upset. It's Piss me off. I'm like just fuck yeah, it's like, Oh my God, fuck off. I did one time this lady in her husband came into this spa that I was working at and I had the husband and another girl was going to massage the wife. And as soon as the wife saw me...

...like take her husband back, like he was like cool and everything, she was like, Oh, absolutely not, like that's not a real woman, like all this bullshit, and they basically like gave them to like the other therapists. So like I didn't like get any money, and so I went to like the I was like that's kind of fucked up, like you guys need to have my back, you know, and they're like you know, you're right, you're right. So I was like okay, we'll let me go handle it, and so I got to like go into the room and like tell them like hey, we're not going to massage you guys today. You guys need to leave, and so that was like fucking awesome because like I got to kick someone out for being an asshole. I was like I love you guys, thinks for letting me do that, and that was in Florida. Yeah, well, that's I mean that's pretty progressive for the business owner to be thinking like Oh, yeah, honey, it is. What is? Those clients are gone, but we're going to handle them. Yeah, and they ended up still paying me even though like I didn't do anything. But, Um, I mean it's like those businesses, that one in particular, they it's like they had like other trans people working there. So they don't know how to handle situations like that because it's like new to them. And so, yeah, I basically talked with them afterwards and I was like yeah, like that's that's not okay, and I was like, next time someone ever does that, you know like kick him out. You're not going to like lose your business because you kick taught him a bigot, you know what I mean? And they totally agree with me and hopefully, if it happens again, someone else there'll do the same. You know. Now do you feel like in San Diego you don't have to worry about it as much? Yeah, I feel like it's not even a thing. Like I just feel normal, like I kind of forget that I'm transgender sometimes and like I don't get like weird looks here when I like I have a job here now at a spa, and there wasn't like any there wasn't any even the questions about being transgender. was like Hey, no, Testa a here our new female, you know, therapists. No, blah, blah blah, like there was nothing about even having to talk about being transgender. So it's like crazy different over here. You know, different mindsets. It is very different here. Even like professionally, you start working somewhere or you feel out of job application and it'll say like Pronoun Preference all the Gudea. That doesn't happen everywhere. On the phone, when the place I work, I know, called me, the first thing I said was which pronouns you prefer, and I was like I've never been as that my life. It's crazy. Yeah, and like my my new boss here, like she's a lesbian and she was like you think? I don't worry about here, like you're fine, even though it was a little scary coming out at work, turned out okay, and her friends and family were supportive to like almost almost two years. So maybe it's a little over two years ago. I came out and I told my mom first and she was like totally supportive of me because I lived like as a gay guy since I was like eleven years old, so I always had like support with that also. But yeah, my family was really supportive. Some of them like cried more so because they like we're scared for me, but they were all supportive and everything, and so are my friends and everything. They were they all had my back. Well, that's good. I mean, that's kind of a rare story. Oh yeah, I kind of figured my friends and my family would be okay with it, just because, like the gay thing they were like totally fine with. They had never like met a Transperson, so they obviously had like lots of questions and I was like more than happy to like talk about it. So, what was the hardest part for you and coming out as trans, from the moment you decided you were going to come out to where you are now? Um, I think more so just like the fear of like failing. In...

...a way, I was I always knew like I wanted to be a woman, but I was scared that first I don't know, it was kind of like I was scared I wasn't going to be able to do it. I thought I was going to cost like hundreds of thousands of dollars for some reason, and I never even like researched it because I thought it was just like this unimaginable thing. And even though my family was like accepting of me being gay and I figured they would be okay with me being trans. There were still a part of me that doubted that and I was like what if they like disowned me or they don't support me, and I was just afraid I was going to like fail out like life if I came out as a transgender person. It was like a heavy thing over me like all the time and it really like kept me from finally doing it. So when did you realize, like no, that's not what's going to happen? I I was sitting in my car one day and I asked myself this question. I called it like I call like the magic potion question. Basically, it's like if there's a magic potion that could turn you into a woman, would you drink it? And like my answers like always a hundred percent yes, and so that's what made me know, like all this like doubt and stuff that I have is just my fears, and I was like I that's just like fear that's controlling me, like this is what I want, like I'm just going to do it, like fuck it, and so I like called my doctor and I was like Hey, I want to transition. What do I do? And Luckily, to my surprise, there was she it was like in network with like a gender therapist, which I had no idea like that was even where that even existed where I was, and she set me up with an appointment and I went and talked to her and she just like helped me, you know, come to terms with what I was wanting to do and she gave me a lot of resources on, you know, the the process of hormones, where to go if I want to get like surgeries and stuff and like how that processes. And she was like, you know, the first thing you need to do is like change your name legally and your driver's license and your social security card and everything. She's like, because you don't. She's like the cops here are not friendly to LGBT. She was like so if you start looking feminine and, you know, dressing like a woman and you get pulled over something and you have like, you know, your mail driver's license, they're going to like mess with you and she's like it's just dangerous. She's like you need to get your name changed immediately, and so I did. So that was like the first step. Yeah, she was like you need to you need to figure out what your name is going to be and she was. She was trying to like make it like some like spiritual like thing. She was like you might want to like invite your family over and do like a little like party, like a birthday party type thing, and I was like no, I'm not gonna do that. So and I told the world this story. I was like, I just went on the Internet and I went to like a random n generator and I just like clicked it and it came up Testa Bella, and I was like, Yep, that's what I'm going to do. And I true story. Yeah, I I did. I did ask my mom. I was like hey, if I was a girl, like what would you have named me? And she was like I would have named you Rachel, and I was like no, I hate that. And so, yeah, then I just went online and like did it and I was the first thing that came up and I was like okay, I'm doing Tessa Bella. That was it. Yeah, it's a good thing you were on like just a like a general name generator and not like Jedi name generator. Oh yeah, end up with a really...

...fun name. Oh yeah, well, when I make like I play video games a lot and like when I make my characters on video games, I use named generators, like fantasy ones. Oh, so I knew, like I knew I named generators and I was like I'm just doing a name generator for me. So that's what I did. Yeah, yeah, it could have ended up really like what's your name? meadowflower? Yes, yeah, I had to change my last name too. Like my last name was really bad. It was he cock, like h e Cock doesn't work for yeah, it was really gross and I told my mom. I was like I need to change my life. This like all on the same conversation. I was like I need to change my last name too, and I was like I hope that doesn't like offend you, because her last name was he cock. And she was like why do you want to change your last name? And I was like I can't be a trans woman with the last name he cock, like that's just like asking for it. Like no, like I got messed within school because I was like a gay kid with that last name. I was like I don't want to like make it like worse. So we were like binge watching the housewives when we were doing all this and she was that you should change you change it to a fun last name like Vander pump. I was like, I am not fucking change me into nder pump. And so then we were like going through all these names and Brandy Glandville was on there and I was like Testa Bella Glandville. That sounds like delicate and flows nice. I was like, I'm that's what I'm doing. It sounds like a southern Bale. Yes, that's all my mom said, like a debut tomp ball, like yeah, like tests Sabella, yeah, and via, Tessabaila Gland Dal. Oh, it does work. Yeah, you have to say any of that and it work, because I'm seven. There you go, surprised, Tessa. We're going to have an episode with Brandy Glanville here on pride in just a few weeks and when we get back we'll talk about the project that Tessa got involved with through her friend and a friend of the show, will sterling. In addition to being one of the creators, writers and actors and Saunder, will is also a podcast producer himself. He even hosts his own show called the motivation report. My name is will sterling. I helped create this show actually many moons ago, when it was called the LGBTQ. Plus you. He's a gifted actor and writer and he's pretty convincing as Superman at cosplay events. Will met Tessa on Instagram a couple of years ago and they struck up a friendship. She was moving California. was like, oh, that's perfect and we needed for Saunder. The whole point of sounder two is to cast authentically to who the characters written. So we have a gay character, it has to be gay actors. If we trans characters, would be TRANSC transactor or actress. And and the thing is like, when you're doing it on a like really low budget, your net your pool is you know, if we were like a big SAG project, sure, you know. So we've really we spent a long time and casting making sure that we got everything right. And Tessa, it took like probably five weeks from when you first sent into tape to when we were like okay, you have the part. Oh yeah, I totally was like Oh, that bombed. Then here from it like well, like we like talking, but not about the understand was like he's not bringing it up, so obviously that's that's not happy. But but we wanted to make sure we got everything right to, you know, because we are the goal is to create this show that's about diversity and inclusivity in a lot of different ways, and so the fact that she was in California, I was like this is great, because she's close and he goes not too far. And I mean she'd never acted before. But I think there's also a joy and people who find acting who are quote unquote, non actor types because they don't think about saying the lines like an actor thinks about saying words, which is the not acting. You know, you just the words on the page. Just say them,...

...you know what I mean, like just say it like a person. Tessa plays Josie, a newly out transgender woman. She's featured in two episodes, first and episode three, and then again in the finale, episode ten. Her story starts when she's basically made the decision to like come out to like her friends. So she goes to a little little dinner at her friend's house where there's going to be a bunch of people and she shows up, as see, her original name was Joe, and everyone's pretty shocked and so like the I think the joy to a testas that, like she just did it. You know, I mean when she reads the sides and does the scene, she's just herself and we kind of tailored the script to her specifically because we wanted to get her story right and make it authentic to her and part of her coming out. And there's some stuff that we wrote for humor and just the awkwardness of the situation, but then some real bits that came from her life that we sort of sprinkle in there so that way it feels, you know, like her story. Will and his co Creator, Alex Wall, wanted to tell a story about people and maybe for the first time in straight, SYS gender, middle class, White Guye history, they didn't want it to be just about them, and finding the difference between appreciation and appropriation was important. In addition to raising up queer creators, creators of color, of different socionomic backgrounds and any other aspects that shape who we are, there's also an opportunity to find ways to intersect our own stories with the stories of others, to find ways in which were the same and celebrate the ways in which we're different. It's portraits of life, you know, and making it realistic and stuff that people really go through. Without beating anybody over the head, or without being tone deaf to what a project about inclusivity should be. It's like watching the academy fallow over themselves, or something like the Green Book. There's always like a white character who has to be the channel in order to display that white people in black people can get along, you know what I mean, and it's like that's so intequated and old and not right, but we're still doing it and so we don't. We absolutely don't want to do that. We just want people who are who they are, actors playing who they are uniquely and authentically and just giving people a slice of life. Really major studios often experience backlash when they decide to hire someone famous rather than authentic. Shows like transparent did really well for Amazon, but they cast Jeffrey Tambor as the lead. Tambore, in addition to not being trans himself, also was accused of sexual harassment by two Trans Women on the set of the show. What special about Saunder is that during the casting process, they chose the people they thought would play the roles authentically, not the ones with the most impressive resumes or connections or even instagram followings, which is why they give Tessa a shot, even despite her having never acted before. Yeah, definitely. I always agree with the like, you know, if you're going to be a trans character, like hire trans actor. I mean, I never thought I would be involved in it or anything, but I've always had that that stance on that, because they're the ones who can really understand what it's like and it's hard for trans people like to get jobs, even outside of acting, like it's hard to get jobs anywhere as a trans person because you're always, you know, discriminate against. You know. So when they asked me to do it, like I never thought of acting, but I thought that was like so fun in a really good opportunity, and so when he asked me, I was like hell, yeah, I'll try it. It's because, like how can you say no like something so awesome like that? You know, in Saunder we first meet Josie as Joe, which is how all of her friends have known her up until she comes out to them later in the episode. Shooting that pre transition scene is going to be a strange thing for Tessa. I mean, I haven't shot like the the boy seeing yet, but I mean I don't know how I'm gonna feel about it. I mean I'm gonna do it, but I'm probably gonna like not want to...

...really look at myself too long. It's been really fun, though, like filming. It took a lot longer than I thought it was gonna take. That's my favorite thing. She's like who be here for like two hours, right? Oh, yeah, they were like I was I think, like the schedule is like seven to twelve, seven pm to twelve pm, when we were doing it and I was like I was talking to one of the other actresses and I was like, well, probably doing like thirty. There's no way it's gonna like take until midnight, and she was like Oh, girl, no, and yeah, it was like to thirty when we're done, and I was like Holy Shit, yeah, curb for seven hours. Yeah, but it went by like really fast, like it's really fun. I don't feel like I'm like working or it just feels like I'm like playing or right. Yeah, I like playing, believe. So are you going to keep acting? What's the plan? Yeah, I I know, I guess so dry. I really liked doing this. So if there's like a thing, I don't know how it works, a like going auditions and stuff. He can tew it works. Yeah, I'll get the lowdown from will. I can help guide me. I'll be getting your head shots. You'll be only had heads time and he both. Yeah, they asked when they're link ads some headshots to send for like the instagram page. I was like, no, I don't have a bunch of selfies that. It's like a bunch of selfies, but one was common, one was almost head shot quality. Yeah, that's pretty good. Yeah, I was like, I'm just gonna this one. This one's good. I said, they're playing an easist one, and they did. SAUNDER features a lot of other stories with more diverse characters. One episode is entirely in Korean. There's one with a woman living in a homeless encampment on the La River, another with a gay ten year old, another with two Latin x friends and East La, and even a trump supporter, which will plays himself. The idea behind Saunder is to appeal to everyone and communicate that empathy is actually easier than hate and vitriol if you just let it in. I do believe that everybody possesses the capacity for change, but I do believe that we lose the possibility of keeping an olive wrench out there if we are say like fuck you, you racist piece of Shit, like kiss my ass, they're going to be like that's right, and then they're going to be more angry about somebody who's who's a person of color or somebody who's in the LGBTQ Postmedi like. So it's kind of it's it's a little, you know, difficult to guess in a way to try to get it right, but we're trying our best and that's really all we can do. It takes a will power to like, yeah, say that again. It takes will power. Yeah, will power, hell, yeah, it's just like your slogan. Now I got it. Well, power, Hell Yeah, hell, yeah, yeah, okay, okays, I didn't mean to catch you up, but it does right, yeah, that's all was gonna say. Okay, take yeah, it takes will power not to like hate them that, you know, because that doesn't like educate anything, right, you know? Right. So, definitely, the team behind saunder hopes that the way to create empathy, compassion and understanding is to take us out of our own stories, to experience that feeling that everyone is the star in the movie of their own life. Everyone is a lead, a supporting actor and an extra all. At the same time, if I only wrote movies about a group of white people constantly, I don't really get to explore and become somebody else, so to speak. You know, when I do research for certain projects or for something like Saunder, it gives me the opportunity to experience life in a way through these other characters who are different than me, and there's always a learning curve. Saunder takes the stance that it's better to aim for empathy and risk making a mistake then to shy away from it entirely in fear of saying the wrong thing. Mistakes are how we grow. That's the thing, too, that I always say like, at least from my perspective, because I do love stories that are different than my own and I do want to write them. I don't want to just write me, but I also want to get it right, and in my effort to get it right, I'm probably going to ask some stupid questions, I'm going...

...to get pronouns wrong every once in a while I'm going to make mistakes, like for for me, I had a my family, I mean my mom was like really, oops, sorry, like you know, she'd do that all the time. But mostly was like with work, and all my clients, like all my clients were mainly older women like in there like s and they had never met like a trans person before or like you even talk to want ornything like that. So they would constantly be like every time they come in, even if, like I'd seen them like once a week, they would always have more questions, like Hey, can I ask you something about this? And like obviously, like it gets annoying, but I would always be like yeah, you can ask you whatever, because I want them to like feel comfortable and I want to educate them. Like one of they would ask you things like are you going to build to have babies, like are they going too like a year's transplant, like some stupid shit, dumb question. Oh, yeah, but they don't know. I guess that's true. Yeah, and I'm just like no, it's not hot work. Yeah, and they, you know, they would, they would always do their best to, you know, say Testa, she and her, but of course, like they would mess up and it took a while. Like even for my friends, they would always say he and stuff, but the more people started seeing me as Tessa and and female and stuff, the easier it got as time went on. But yeah, I mean I agree with you. Like educating people that are like ignorant, but they're not trying to be mean, they just don't know. I always have patience for that and, like, I have no problem talking about it or answering any questions, no matter who it is, you know, as long as it's coming from a genuinely saunder is still in production, but it will premiere on October sixteen. On instagram. They plan to release the first three episodes at once, so you'll see Tessa right away. You can follow Saunder on Instagram at SAUNDER DOT LA. Stay updated. We got a lots of stories. Go to the Saunder instagram page to see photos of the cast and a lot of behind the scenes footage. That's at SAUNDER DOT LA. You can also catch Tessa at Tessa Glanville and will at will sterling underscore. Thanks for listening. Pride is a production of STRAHA media. If you like the show, leave us a rating and a review on Apple, podcast or spotify or wherever you're tuning in from. Share us with your friends, subscribe and follow us on Instagram, facebook and twitter at pride. Yes, it's at pride. It's that easy. You can follow me at leave by chambers. Pride is produced by Levy Chambers, Maggie Bowls and Ryan Tillotson, edited by Sebastian. I'Llcohol so hurricane Michael is a person, not a hurricane. It's a herricane. It's a hurricane like a legit disaster.

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