The love triangle between Sophie, Dani, and Finley was one of the most compelling storylines of the first season of The L Word: Generation Q.
The three characters, brought to life by Rosanny Zayas (Sophie), Arienne Mandi (Dani), and Jacqueline Toboni (Finley), embody the very messy, and very real, lesbians that we’ve come to know and love on The L Word, and now that season two has started and we’ve seen the fallout of their decisions, Out decided to catch up with the three actors and find out what playing such messy dykes is like.
"It's a lot of fun," Zayas says. "It's exciting because we'll go outside and people will come up and be like, 'Oh my God, you're on The L Word!' And you can feel that they know our characters are making some really weird life choices, and they get so excited to be like, 'How much are you going to fuck up your life?' It's just so fun to like share in the drama with other people."
"To be able to play a character like that, it's just loads of fun, because you get to act in extremes," Toboni adds. "And I think that's where I kind of do some of my best work. So I love it. I do have to say, it’s not that far off from reality for a lot of people. People are messy and go through life all the time, you know?"
Toboni, who is queer, has been something of an icon in lesbian circles since he played the leather jacket-wearing tough girl Trouble on NBC’s Grimm. While that character’s sexuality was never made a part of the show, a lot of queer fans saw themselves in the character.
"Playing Trouble, I think they never wanted to take her down that road, but it’s so funny because the fan base just absolutely made all the assumptions, which was so great," she laughs. But now she’s excited to get to play an actual queer character.
"Grimm was just a taste, I’m the entree now," she says. "And it’s great."
Zayas, who is Dominican, and Mandi, who is Chilean and Iranian, are the first Latina actors to play major Latina characters in series history, and so are bringing a new level of authenticity to the show. Previous characters like Carmen and Papi were played by non-Latinx actors.
"It's just so nice to be able to play a character that I know someone is going to watch and see themselves for the first time, because I remember that moment for me," Zayas says. "And then when that happened to me, I felt like I could do and be more than what people were saying I could do and be. And that's a big life goal, purpose in my life. It's making sure that that happens. So it makes me really, really happy."
"I didn't see many mixed characters like myself, and it's really exciting for me now to be portraying exactly that," Mandi, who is pansexual, added. "Marja (Lewis-Ryan, The L Word showrunner) was so great and she gave me this character and was like, 'Let's make her these pieces of you. Let's have that representation for the viewers who are just like yourself.' And it's just so special because I hope that anyone out there that's like that, that is watching the show just feels identified."
Zayas is especially excited to be able to bring some Afro-Latinx representation to the show. "I think it's important that on television, we say Afro-Latina can be this, and Afro-Latina can be that, and it can look many different ways," she says.
"And so once we start being part of that message, more people can see themselves and more people can relate to these characters and throw away all of that internal injustice that's been done to a whole race for years," she continues. "To really start to own who they are and own their Blackness, their Latinx identity, their queerness, wherever they come from, and be able to sit in their chair a little more relaxed and love themselves more."
As to what their characters are doing this season, "Get ready for a fun ride," Mandi says. "There’s going to be ups and downs and tears and laughs. There’s going to be a little bit of all of it, so just buckle up is all I have to say."
Zayas says that for Sophie, she’s going to have to live with the decisions she’s made. "It's like she's being a grown-up and she's dealing with the situation she's put herself in," she says. "Eventually she does come to terms with certain things and not just her life with Dani and decides to be a grownup and deal with it, which we all need a little bit more of that here and there."
Toboni adds that this season is about growth. "The learning our characters do in this season is recognizing patterns," she says. "I think it’s not just like one bad decision. The writers are so good at basing these decisions off of who the characters are as people, and those types of deeper flaws I think we kind of start to address."
New episodes of The L Word: Generation Q premiere Sunday nights on Showtime.