Meet Laura Zak, Co-Writer and Co-Star of Her Story

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LauraZak[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]W[/dropcap]e’re so excited to be chatting with the brilliant women behind Her Story – a six-part web series about navigating the dating world as a trans woman – all month. This week, we chatted with Laura Zak, who co-wrote the show and stars as the character Allie. Laura has some really insightful things to say about working in the visual media space and making content that serves your audience – so keep reading![divider type="dashed" spacing="10"]

Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are and what you do.

Laura Zak. I'm a writer, actor, and producer based in Los Angeles. I'm the co-writer of Her Story and I also play the character of Allie in the show.[divider type="white" spacing="10"]

We love that Her Story represents trans women in such a rich, complicated and real way – a way we don't often see in other media. Can you tell us a bit more about how you accomplished that and why it was important to you?

Thank you for saying that. Since the series was released, we've heard many people give generous reviews of the show as being groundbreaking in its portrayal of trans women and their relationships. In part, I think Her Story has received such praise because of how poor the representation of trans characters has been in the mainstream media. We set out to tell a fairly simple story about two couples getting to know one another. Jen and I originally had the idea to write a story about a friendship and romantic relationship between a cisgender lesbian woman and a trans woman, based on the rich and compelling conversations we were having with one another, when we were first becoming friends. We wanted to honestly explore the chemistry and intersections between queer and trans women, mostly because it was our lived experience, and something we'd not seen reflected on-screen.

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What's been the most challenging part of this work? And the most rewarding?

I'd say that the challenges largely fall into the "good problems to have" category. For example, after the response to the show was so positive, many people have approached us asking about the several perspectives from within the trans and queer communities that are not yet represented in Her Story. We had to start out small, with what we knew most intimately and only had an hour to work with, but we'd love to get the chance to bring in many more types of characters and experiences if we get the chance to expand the show. Another challenge is money – we are brimming with so many ideas and are eager to get started on more content, but are seeking funding first. There have been so many rewarding experiences; working with a cast and crew filled with some of the most passionate and brilliant people I've ever known, meeting and talking to college students and LGBTQ groups around the country, reading messages from people all over the world who watched and loved our show, and more.

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What advice would you have for other media-makers who want to create truly representative content?

Write it first. Get it down, actually write it. And then find people with various talents who share the desire to tell similar stories. And make sure, when writing about or for particular communities of people, that you involve people from that community in every aspect of the creative process.

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What's next for you? Any upcoming projects you'd like to share with us?

We are touring the country on a speaking tour with Her Story. Upcoming, we'll be in the LA Film Festival and Frameline in San Francisco. I appeared in a short film called Spunkle opposite Fawzia Mirza (who played Kat in Her Story) which will be also be appearing at festivals this summer. I'm currently writing for a wonderful new animated show on Amazon called Danger & Eggs, to be released next year. And hopefully Her Story will be picked up by a network soon and I'll be writing a lot more about Violet, Paige, and Allie.