Interview: Amanda Bearse, Director of ‘Skirtchasers’

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From a perch overlooking Puget Sound near Seattle, WA, Director Amanda Bearse spoke to Goweho’s Laurie Schenden about the exhilarating experience going “outside the box and the Hollywood machine” to get the web series “Skirtchasers” made.

Amanda Bearse, director of "Skirtchasers."

Amanda Bearse, director of “Skirtchasers.”

The five 5-minute webisodes, now streaming on telloFilms.com (see related article here) originated with writer Stan Zimmerman (“The Brady Bunch” movies; “Gilmore Girls”), a longtime friend she met while directing an episode of “Pauly.”

“He asked, ‘Have you ever read my lesbian sitcom? [Laughter] I said, ‘No, I can’t say that I have.’ It’s absolutely adorable, and more than just a lesbian sitcom, which of course is what piqued my interest.”

Bearse is recognized as the first actor in prime time TV to come out, in 1993. An affable, energetic, and articulate TV veteran, she launched her acting career on “All My Children,” and discovered a knack for directing while playing Marcy D’Arcy and having the opportunity to direct on the long-running “Married … With Children.”

“My acting career really ended with “Married With Children,” for the most part,” says Bearse. “And that was so that I could be taken seriously as a director. And I was for a long, long time.”

She directed some of TV’s most popular shows, including “Reba,” “Dharma & Greg,” “MadTV,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” but then came and even bigger mission. She put her Hollywood career on hold and returned to her roots in Atlanta, GA, to raise her baby. By the time her daughter was off to college, the industry had changed.

“My career suffered, but I made that choice because my child was more important to me.”

Bearse eventually was tapped to direct “The Big Gay Sketch Show,” which ran for three seasons on LOGO. It featured a cast of eight, which included Kate McKinnon, an out member of “SNL” and star of the current “Ghostbusters” film.

“She’s a dreamboat of a human being,” says Bearse. “I am so thrilled that her star has risen. She so deserves that.”

In late 2015, after reading the “Skirtchasers” script, Bearse hopped a plane back to Los Angeles to direct what was originally written as a half-hour pilot.

“It’s a universal story,” Bearse says of the script. “And the fact that it’s a lesbian lead character, I really like that. We also haven’t seen the dynamic of a father-daughter relationship really explored in sitcom land. For all those reasons I would love to see it have a future–and get to keep working. So fingers crossed!”

While “Skirtchasers” is being “shopped around,” Bearse, who once studied directing at USC and the American Film Institute, is teaching at the Seattle Film Institute. She moved to the Northwest after meeting her future wife, a Washington resident, on a Caribbean cruise. “It couldn’t have been more crazy,” she says with a laugh, as she was still living in Atlanta. But they worked out the logistics, and she’s found some surprising opportunities in Washington.

“I’m in the process of getting my graduate degree, but they put me to work [teaching] before I even completed it,” she says. “It’s nice to be around that kind of energy of hopefulness and creativity. I’ve jumped on board and I’m loving it.

“It’s a whole different industry they’re walking into now, different than the one I walked into in the ‘80s,” she says excitedly. “Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and … even the networks are trolling for new product that people are making with no money at all, and creating their own following, and putting out their new work.

“It’s only a matter of time,” she says of the new digital platforms, “where that’s going to be–to quote another gay show–the new normal.”

Watch the Skirtchasers Trailer.


Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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