Charlie Ballard, Sac and Fox/Anishinaabe, is a standup comedian based in San Francisco, where he is the creator and host of the Hella Gay Comedy Night. With the lead role in All The Others Were Practice, an independent feature film, he may be on the brink of an acting career. He shared his thoughts on this venture and his career as a whole with ICTMN.
Is acting something you've pursued before this movie, or planned to do?
At some point, I eventually wanted to cross over into acting. It just made sense because I do a lot of acting in my standup, whether it's doing monologues, or voices and characters in my comedy routines. I have absolutely had no theater/actor experience prior to this movie. I told that to the director when he hired me but he thought I was a good fit for the role anyway. I mean, really, Jennifer Lawrence didn't have any acting experience before she got into movies so I thought, "if she could do it, I can do it too!"
What's funny about this whole experience — after this the movie was finished a friend of mine asked me how the experience went and I said, "great, I learned how to act." I would love to do more movies because I had such a great experience from doing this one — so I'm hoping this movie will raise eyebrows within the industry and will get me cast into more projects!
Can you tell us a little bit about the plot of this film and how the project spoke to you creatively or personally?
All The Others Were Practice is a post-gay romantic comedy, meaning it doesn't fit into the conventional genre of gay movies out right now. The story centers around this guy named Jorge and how he fumbles his way thru relationships towards finding the right guy. This character was a complete fit for me. It was part of how director Brian Tolle found me — he saw a couple of my personal love life blogs online via charlieballard.blogspot.com and that's what sold him. I turned out to be a complete match for this character.
Can you try to make the case for readers who might not think they'd be interested in a "post-gay romantic comedy" — why should they see this film?
Great question! The general mainstream should give this movie a chance because they're going to find a lot of parallels in this movie which I'm sure will relate to their own lives, because really, when you strip away any of our technical attributes, all of our experiences are really the same. Also, the supporting cast was great. I kept saying to everyone while we were making the film, even though I was the main lead in this movie, this movie was really less about me and more about our great supporting cast, who were all fantastic. I should know, I was on the set everyday and got to work with them. And besides, this movie is a romantic comedy — who doesn't love a good romantic comedy? The great thing about his movie is that it isn't overly sexualized, the implications are there but never at one point does this film cross that line into being vulgar, at least by my standards. The heart of this movie is really about how we deal in relationships with each other.
Native culture often emphasizes modesty and traditionalism — yet there is also the interesting history of respect for gay or trans people as "two spirits." Growing up and in your adult life have you felt that push-pull?
I've definitely felt the push-pull effect toward being a good Native role model. I was raised around many wonderful community members who inspired me to be like them, most of whom were Native women. When they were raising me, it never occurred to me that my sexuality played a role in how they treated me. The emphasis I received from them was more about having and showing compassion for each other. To this day, I still carry those fires with me and try to convey myself in a contemporary way, just as they did for me.
How does being Native, or gay, or gay and Native, inform your comedy?
My pre-disposition has definitely given everyone a point of view that no one ever hears from. The political climate for Gays in this country has greatly improved, so that being mixed with my Native heritage has given me terrific platform to speak on. I realize that my brand of comedy is pretty specific and I'm okay with that because I'm not trying to be like everyone else, which is how my comedic voice has been able to stand out from so many. At the end of day, if I can put a smile on someones face from entertaining them then I did my job.