relationships

Meet the woman breaking all the rules in the lesbian drama that's too hot for TV.

She’s a lead actress and producer on the beautiful, confronting, boundary-abolishing web-series and lesbian drama that is Starting From Now.

She’s a kick-ass advocate of all things important – LGBTIQ rights, indigenous affairs, community, the environment and human rights.

And she channels these passions to tell stories that are moving, inspiring and perception-shifting. Most importantly, stories that are real. So real, raw and close-to-home that you want to keep watching and turn away all at the same time.

“We have a responsibility to the Starting From Now community to not only tell the stories of a relationship drama, but also to address the important, very real issues our audience members face in other aspects of their lives,” Lourde says.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. Starting From Now is a five-season phenomena, with six short episodes (between 6 and 12 minutes long) in each season, created by writer/director/producer Julie Kalceff.

It is a honest, revealing and, at times, unforgiving spotlight on the complexities of women and the way they love – both themselves and others.

“Women in film and TV are so often portrayed as mothers or whores. They are often confined to strict stereotypes because it’s supposedly easier for the audience to understand quickly,” Lourde says. “It’s incredibly important to expand the stories that are told and the characters that are portrayed. We want our audience to know that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you identify as or with, or the labels society puts on you. A good human being, in all of that complexity, deserves to be celebrated.”

The Starting From Now cast.

Lourde saw the role of Darcy, her character in Starting From Now, advertised on a casting notice site. The advertisement explained they were looking for a 'complex female character in a female lead show'.

"I thought to myself, 'regardless if I land the role, I want to meet these people'. This is the type of project I want to be working on," says Lourde.

At the audition Lourde read the whole of season one, and was confronted with the character (and that is 'character' in every sense of the word) that is Darcy.

"My first reaction was really mixed, Very excited, but also scared," Lourde recalls. "Darcy sits in that part of me that I find really hard to accept in myself. She's stuck in fear; feels like she has no options; can't get herself out; and ends up doing things that aren't honourable. She hurts people she loves because she feels like she has no other choices."

"I see those traits in myself, and also in every person I know."

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Darcy wants to be a writer. She is the lover of a high-profile and very successful lawyer, Kristen. And she is swept along in a life that is not hers.

Kristin wants to have a baby. Darcy doesn't want to have a baby, but can't articulate that. Kristin does things and says things Darcy doesn't like. Again Darcy can't articulate this ("it's like her feelings are in a different language" Lourde says) This same pattern is true when Darcy falls in love with some one else. And her life unravels from there.

Obviously - because (as any one who's ever seen Starting From Now will attest) there is no one, NO ONE! else that could play Darcy -  Lourde was given the role. She was also asked to come on board as producer from Season One, but did not do this until Season Three.

"Knowing how tricky Darcy would be to 'find', I didn't want to give myself an excuse of not being her fully by producing," Lourde says. "By Season Three I'd found a stronger doorway to accessing Darcy."

Watching Darcy in Starting From Now is difficult. It's difficult because she is the manifestation of all the traits you have, but you are not proud of. For this reason, Lourde says, playing Darcy was challenging, but also life changing.

"In finding inspiration for Darcy, I would think of all the times I'd been frustrated by similar behaviour to hers. Then I'd think, 'you will always be frustrated with people's traits when you see them in yourself'," Lourde says."That self-talk of wallowing, winging, being a drama queen and a victim; that came from the deepest, darkest part of me. And I had to acknowledge that these traits are still present inside of me as both a motivator and a destructor."

"Playing Darcy - and trying not to paint her with the one brush, remembering that she might be stuck in fear, but she still has moments of laughter, love and joy - taught me a lot," Lourde adds. "It also gave me a greater freedom and compassion when I am faced with people who might be similarly stuck."

Rosie Lourde as Darcy in Starting From Now. Image via Ella Mackenzie-Taylor.  
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No issue or character, it seems, is 'painted with the one brush' in Starting From Now. In Season Four, the story incorporates sexual assault. Lourde - who was producing and acting by this time - said writer and director of the series Kalceff made a conscious decision to tell a different story, a survivor's story, in addressing this issue that is a reality for so many women.

"Stories of sexual violence are so frequently told on TV but we hear so little from the survivors, and this feeds into some sort of acceptance around the issue," Lourde explains. "With Starting From Now, Julie [Kalceff] and I made the choice that we didn't want to see sexual assault through rose-coloured glasses, but also not as 'life ending'. We didn't want the character to just acknowledge it and, because of this acknowledgement, she's either now over it or now in despair. We wanted to show that it is both and neither of these things at the same time. Telling the story was about balancing strength and vulnerability, purpose and fear."

Image via Ella Mackenzie-Taylor. Rosie Lourde and Sarah de Possesse in Starting From Now.
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Before Starting From Now, Lourde worked on a 72-minute feature film called Skin Deep, which was her first project producing. This was a venture that changed her acting career.

"Producing is the best thing that's happened to me as an actor," Lourde says. "When you are acting, you worry that you will lose the 'moment', but once you step into the producer role you see how how many people are telling the story. By realising you have a team of people with you, this takes the pressure off. You then stop trying to control every moment as an actor, and the uncertainty disappears."

"It's a lot of work, both the roles [acting and producing] are full-time jobs," Lourde adds. "Working on a web series (which, in total, spans four-hours of film) allowed Julie [Kalceff] to develop the complex characters and their story lines according to feedback from the audience, and let all of us really explore who they are."

Image via Ella Mackenzie-Taylor. Producers Julie Kalceff and Rosie Lourde.

In her downtime (rare as it would be) Lourde likes to swim in the ocean and cook. Swimming in particular is something that gives her perspective, and helps "stops the chatter". Lourde and Kalceff have been travelling back and forth from Los Angeles, and have received an epic response to the web series from the American audience.

Lucky for us, we can expect more to come from the Starting From Now team, but in exactly what capacity Lourde can't say. Season Five of the series is due to be released later this year (for anyone who's reached the end of Season Four, 'later this year' can't arrive fast enough!!).

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You can get excited about seeing Lourde in an upcoming sci-fi thriller Restoration; the Stephen Sewell-directed Embedded; and also the Indigenous super hero thriller Clever Man, a project Lourde describes as "so f**king exciting".

In the mean time, if you haven't seen Starting From Now, get on it. As someone who DOESN'T cry in movies (my mum calls me 'heartless') the series rendered me a shuddering mess on the plane trip where I chose to watch it. It was worth it (probably not for the lady sitting next to me) because it is a series that celebrates love, diversity, complexity and community. You learn from it and, most importantly, it makes you feel. 

"To me it's not specific to lesbians, but it's about all diversity," Lourde says. "I grew up in Newtown, which is the heart of the LGBT scene in Sydney. My childhood was filled with people who love people, and it didn't matter what sexuality, gender identification or ability. The world I lived in was not the world I saw on TV, and I wanted to do something about that."

"Working on Starting From Now certainly became stressful and overwhelming at times, but then we'd get a message from someone, somewhere in the world, thanking us for making the show. Because, before seeing Starting From Now, they didn't realise there were other people the same as them and they were close to ending their life. That there is a community, and the reason of the series."

"We want to let people know that they are okay. We're all human and life is complicated."

Rosie Lourde

(Side note:If you thought the thoughtful, progressive and loving actress-producer-writer that is Lourde couldn't be any more perfect, wait till you hear what her comfort food is.

It's steamed veggies people. STEAMED VEGGIES. Can't deal.)

Watch Starting From Now on Mamamia.
Season 1, Episode 1.
Season 1, Episode 2.
Season 1, Episode 3.
Season 1, Episode 4.
Season 1, Episode 5.
Season 1, Episode 6.

Season 2, Episode 1.
Season 2, Episode 2.
Season 2, Episode 3.
Season 2, Episode 4.
Season 2, Episode 5.
Season 2, Episode 6.

Season 3, Episode 1.
Season 3, Episode 2.
Season 3, Episode 3.
Season 3, Episode 4.
Season 3, Episode 5.
Season 3, Episode 6.

Season 4, Episode 1.
Season 4, Episode 2.
Season 4, Episode 3.
Season 4, Episode 4.
Season 4, Episode 5.
Season 4, Episode 6.