Huge congratulations on the publication of “Same but Different” – which certainly made two days of my lockdown a lot of fun! Have you already got plans to film it post-lockdown?Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, absolutely we are looking to take it to screen and about are to actively raise finance. The action takes place at Christmas time so it would be great to go into production this coming winter. The cast are keen, so the signs are good. Just need to adapt it into a screenplay first!
I’ve got to ask – how much of “Different for Girls” and “Same but Different” is based on real life/people?
The characters are composites of people I know, for sure. I’ve met some incredible LGBTQ+ people and our lives are pretty much uncharted territory that is rich for mining for plots & storylines. I just hope some people are not overly recognised. There is a disclaimer, saying some of people I know appear as ‘flashes’ in the characters. Let’s leave it at that!
Editor’s note: both Jacquie’s books are available now on Amazon as e-books … get ordering … they are perfect lockdown reading!
Do you have a favourite character – if so, who and why?
It depends on how I feel on the day! Where ‘Same But Different’ is concerned, I am intrigued by a new character who just popped up from leftfield and that’s Verity Sanderson, the sexy politician. She was just meant to be a cypher for one of the main characters’ narrative but she developed organically. I’m pretty much transfixed by her. The end of the novel signifies the beginning of her journey so I intrigued as to where she may go.
What was your route into television and film? How did it happen?
I saw the title sequence of a well-known sitcom being filmed when I was a child and realised the power in telling stories visually. After university I was accepted at a film school that was funded by C4. My first job was a runner on a C4 queer show called Dyke TV. It was groundbreaking television. After a couple of years of making mainly female-skewed programming for other broadcasters, I ended up as a commissioner at C4 managing the very show that gave me my first job.
Of all your amazing professional achievements, do you have a personal favourite – and why?
Coming Out Night at Channel 4. It was a night of programming wrapped around the coming out episode of Ellen. Ellen flew over to co-host with Graham Norton. We had factual programmes advising people how to come out, quiz and entertainment shows celebrating coming out. We had helplines and counsellors on hand to talk people through coming out. The tabloids went nuts and gave me the title ‘Filth Peddlar of British Television’. Job done!
A lot of your early work was documentaries focused on some very serious issues – for example Paragraph 175 and Punishment: Cruel and Unusual. Would you consider this type of work again? If so, what are the sort of issues and events that you would consider exploring?
Feature length documentaries are a passion of mine, especially those which reveal our hidden LBTQ+ histories. We are looking to co-produce a documentary about Gateways. The producer has the most wonderful archive and interviews. Even she can’t believe why it hasn’t been made before. I know there are many other hidden LBTQ histories out there and our job is to uncover and expose them …in the nicest possible way!
You won a BAFTA for Gangs. Did this change your career or life – and, if so, how?
It would have if I hadn’t just given birth. I was offered a dream job on the back of it but made the decision to stick to my planned year off. The best thing was that it was the first BAFTA that Sky One had won for documentaries. We were the outsiders and we beat the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
What is your vision for Diva Box Office and what are the next projects you have lined up (COVID-19 allowing, of course)?
I see Diva Box Office as the Netflix of LBTQ broadcasting – but oh, that we had a fraction of their budget! We want it to be a subscription channel that screens quality dramas, documentaries, lifestyle, sitcoms and any other genre that features the diverse LBQT female characters and stories that we know exist but are often ignored by the mainstream broadcasters. That’s not to say we want DBO to be niche, we want it to appeal to LBTQ allies too.
How, when and why did you come out [at work]?
I think taking a job as the commissioning editor for queer programming was a pretty obvious ‘coming out at work’ step! The tabloids ran with the story, which meant that some friends and family members found out I was a lesbian at their local newsagents. Classy!
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Don’t live by any one else’s advice. My careers teacher told me to train to be an air hostess…riggghhht!
What are the five words that best describe you?
Determined, impatient, creative, loyal and proud
What are your favourite pastimes when you aren’t working?
Stand up paddle boarding. I got a SUP board for Christmas but been in bloody lockdown ever since.
What would you like to be if you didn’t do what you currently do?
Nothing. I took me quite a few years to realise that people would read what I wrote. So to be able to write and then see those words spoken on screen. I want to be doing this forever.
What is your favourite holiday place – and why?
Los Angeles. It always feels like going home.
Do you listen to music – if so, what is your current favourite thing to listen to?
I listen to rap and hip-hop BUT by lesbians. It’s a radical subversion of the genre. Speech Debelle and Ziggy for instance.
What are your children’s names and why did you choose them?
Dulcie, after the actress Dulcie Gray.
Matilda, after the Roald Dahl book although I wish I’d called her Maude instead.
What was the book which most influenced you when a teenager or child?
‘The Greenage Summer’ by Rumer Godden. It appealed to my burgeoning curiosity about girls.
Do you have something on your desk or where you work, which is personal – if so, what?
A vase for my pens, made by my little sister when she was eight. It’s the ugliest thing ever but …
Do you like to live in the countryside or are you an urban person?
I live in both the city and the countryside but wish I lived by the sea. Some people are just never satisfied.
Which charities do you support and why?
I set up my own charity, the ELMA TRUST, in memory of my mum. It funds and manages the ELMA SCHOOL, a school for 400 hundred children in the poorest commune of Siem Reap, in Cambodia. They receive free education, after school clubs and free meals. It’s the type of free education that was available to me when I was a child and should be available to every child on the planet. It has been going for 15 years and all of the female teachers are graduates of the school. That is one of my proudest achievements.
How old were you when you had your first LBTQ+ kiss?
I was 19 and a friend and I went camping around Europe with our boyfriends. We ended up in Venice. She kissed me by the Lido. We ‘eloped’ in the middle of the night, left the boys behind and hitchhiked through Austria and France. At Victoria coach station she told me that she was going back to boys. I told her that I wasn’t.
What are your biggest challenges in achieving an optimal work/life balance?
Is it achievable?