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Jasmin Savoy Brown, Javicia Leslie, and more LGBTQ stars reveal the stories that made them feel seen

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One constant in the current landscape is the importance of representation. We cover how stories are charting new territory by telling stories about underrepresented communities and see people highlight how a book, movie, show, or song makes them feel seen. As part of our Celebrating Art series, we asked LGBTQ artists about the shows and movies that made them feel seen.

From iconic shows of days past to current stories charting new ground, here are the picks that Angelica Ross, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and other stars shared.

Angelica Ross

When Noah's Arc premiered in 2005, nothing like it existed. It featured four close friends navigating life like many TV shows, but this one centered Black LGBTQ men. "For me, seeing something like Noah's Arc showed to me what the future could hold," Ross shares about seeing Black and brown queer stories coming after the groundbreaking series. She loved see Darryl Stephens' Noah Nicholson navigating his femininity and seeing all the character explore their sexual orientation and gender. In their stories she saw something that resonated with her. "Noah's Ark walked, so Pose could run," she says.

Angelica Ross, Noah’s Ark
Angelica Ross, Noah’s Ark

Javicia Leslie

A self-described tomboy, Javicia Leslie found "the girly version" of herself in Clueless. After watching the film repeatedly, the Batwoman star found herself talking like the characters and dressing like them. "You couldn't tell me I wasn't Dionne," she says. Leslie recalls when she first got her iPad she used an app that allowed her to take images of all her clothing and coordinate outfits just like Cher used to do on her computer. She also loved Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It. "To have a woman have that much power and that much confident to do what she wants and date who she wants and live free in New York City, I thought it was so badass," she shares.

Javicia Leslie, Clueless
Javicia Leslie, Clueless

Jasmin Savoy Brown

Having grown up as a queer person of color in a white town, Jasmin Savoy Brown saw herself in 2021 film Plan B. Directed by Natalie Morales, it tells the story of two best friends who go on a journey to get a Plan B pill. "I grew up in Oregon surrounded by white people. I had my couple of friends who were also girls of color and that is such a specific existence especially being a queer person of color in an all white town as a teenager growing up," she shares. The Scream 5 actress thinks Morales and the stars did a great job showing what it means to be a teenage girl of color in the current political climate. "I saw their deep care and love for one another as friends when friendship, especially that one best friend, is the most important thing in your world when you're that age," she says, "I saw myself in them."

Jasmin Savoy Brown, Plan B
Jasmin Savoy Brown, Plan B

Sherry Cola

Good Trouble star Sherry Cola says seeing South of Nowhere, ignited her queerness. It centered on a small town girl who moves to L.A. and meets a rebellious queer girl who leads her to question her sexuality. "It really just showed me how love is so powerful," Cola shares. Watching the show as a kid made her realize that she needed to be who she is in the face of societal pressures her family or the world has.

Sherry Cola, South of Nowhere
Sherry Cola, South of Nowhere

Alexandra Billings

"Phil Donahue was Oprah Winfrey before Oprah Winfrey was Oprah Winfrey," Alexandra Billings explains. Billings explains that when she was a young teen she considered suicide due to bullying, but when she turned on the TV to see three fabulous-looking women being interviewed on The Phil Donahue Show it changed her mind. While she cannot remember why, Billings thought these women were strippers, so when an audience member asked what bathroom they used she was understandably confused. "I said out loud to the universe 'oh, there I am,'" she says of the trans women. "Not only did the show change my life, it saved my life."

Alexandra Billings, The Phil Donahue Show
Alexandra Billings, The Phil Donahue Show

Casey Rackham

Growing up, Crush co-writer Casey Rackham felt seen by queer-coded characters like Shego from Kim Possible and Alyson Stoner's Cheaper by the Dozen character. One explicitly queer storytelling moment where she felt represented happening during the 2015 Fun Home Tony Awards performance. During the performance of "Ring of Keys," a Young Alison sees a queer woman walk into a diner and she notices her. When hearing the lyrics "Your swagger and your bearing and the just right clothes your wearing" Rackham says she understood her in that moment. "That feeling of being in a room and knowing there is someone else who is like you in that room," she says, "and then she calls the woman handsome instead of beautiful, and I could just tear up thinking about that moment."

Casey Rackham, Fun Home 2015 Tony Awards performance
Casey Rackham, Fun Home 2015 Tony Awards performance

Laci Mosley

Seeing Moesha was a huge deal for Laci Mosley. "Moesha is a Black woman who could sing and who was cool and funny," she says. It was important for Mosley to see an entire story centering a character that looked like her. The show ran for eight seasons and led to spin-off The Parkers. Seeing Brandy Norwood as Moesha made Mosley feel like it was possible for her to be on TV and play an interesting character — and she has with iCarly and A Black Lady Sketch Show.

Laci Mosley, Moesha
Laci Mosley, Moesha

Kirsten King

Crush co-writer Kirsten King says she was "holding onto crumbs of representation" at the time, but she felt seen by Marissa's relationship with Alex on The OC, although she is well aware of the flaws in their relationship. "As a bisexual woman, it was really exciting to see two bisexual women on my television screen," she says. King is happy to see some nuance added to the stories we're seeing about bisexual representation. She singles out characters like Nick from Heartstopper, Stephanie Beatriz's character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Nova on Queen Sugar. She feels honored to be part of that by creating the character AJ in her film Crush.

Kirsten King, Marissa and Alex on The OC
Kirsten King, Marissa and Alex on The OC

Maisie Richardson-Sellers

While early in her journey of coming out, Maisie Richardson-Sellers found Bette on The L Word. "She's a beautiful mixed race successful powerhouse lesbian. It really made me realize that's possible for us," she explains. Another big moment for the Legends of Tomorrow star was seeing Dee Rees' Pariah. "That just changed everything for me," she says. Pariah was the first time she saw a queer story told in a Black space. "It's so important because it makes you think that your story matters," she explains.

Maisie Richardson-Sellers, The L Word
Maisie Richardson-Sellers, The L Word

Marja-Lewis Ryan

"The first time I ever saw that show I was like 'why are we the same?'" The L Word: Generation Q showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan recalls of seeing The Rosie O'Donnell Show. The other person that made her feel that way is Queen Latifah. As a rapper on a sitcom, Ryan was confused about why she saw herself in Latifah. "I couldn't quite put my finger on her, but I know now," she says.

Marja-Lewis Ryan, The Rosie O’Donnell Show
Marja-Lewis Ryan, The Rosie O’Donnell Show

V.E. Schwab

Killing Eve made First Kill author V.E. Schwab feel seen. "Even when it was really subtextual about the relationship between the two of them, what excited me so much was that they were complex and messy, sometimes villainous, ambitious, and self-interested," she shares. Those traits are typically given to straight characters, not queer women in film and television.

Victoria "V.E." Schwab, Killing Eve
Victoria "V.E." Schwab, Killing Eve

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