aTVfest Impresses for Eighth Year

Atlanta’s only festival specifically celebrating television, SCAD aTVfest – staged by SCAD Atlanta – did itself proud with its eighth annual event Feb. 27-29. Over three days new episodes of series were screened and performers galore attended. LGBTQ artists and shows were very much part of the programming.

Eric McCormack of “Will and Grace” received the Impact Award at this year’s event, while out actor BD Wong appeared to talk about his role on the new “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” and gender-nonconforming performer Alex Newell, formerly of “Glee” fame, appeared along with the cast of NBC’s new “Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The show’s ensemble, including Newell, was awarded the Rising Star Cast Award.

aTVfest also screened the first episode of NBC’s new drama “Council of Dads,” which features some LGBT characters. Out SCAD student Corey Graves is a production assistant in the show, which films in Savannah.

“Sex in the City” actress Kim Cattrall took home the Icon Award. She will be seen later this spring in the new Fox comedy-drama “Filthy Rich,” in which she plays Margaret, whose husband unexpectedly passes away, leaving her to take care of their Christian television network business. The show is directed by out director Tate Taylor of “The Help” fame.

For Cattrall, Margaret is different than any of the characters she has played and she savored the opportunity. “I am not from a religious background,” she says. “I was not raised in any denomination. My mother wanted us to decide what we wanted to do with our lives with religion – that was our choice when we got old enough. I went to Sunday school and that was about it. I was very curious about it and I thought it would be an interesting device to get in Margaret’s head and see what she was thinking.”

The third season of Starz’s lesbian-themed series “Vida” held its world premiere at aTVfest this year and most of the primary cast were present to talk about the impact of the show and their characters. “Mari is a young woke activist from the neighborhood – all about her community – dealing with the machismo of her family,” says Chelsea Rendon. “She is at the age of around 21 when she is growing and finding herself. From season one to this season she has changed so much. It’s cool to see her grow from fighting for her neighborhood to fighting for immigration. That’s been beautiful to see, especially with all this going on now.”

Ser Anzoategui says the character of Eddy has some new layers this season. And perhaps some happiness. “Eddy wants to bring everyone together, but the character has gone through such heartbreak,” Anzoategui says. “The audience wants to see her succeed and find love but there is always something that gets in the way. This season Eddy has a secret that she is wrestling with and carrying. She also gets a love interest.”

Rendon feels the show has broken numerous barriers. “It’s a show about brown people written by brown people,” she says. “You have a queer female showrunner and almost all the department heads are female or people of color or LGBTQ. The vibe on the set has been beautiful. It’s great that Starz has given us this opportunity.”

Anzoategui concurs. “For LGBTQIA people, it’s important to have a masculine of center female be one of the main characters. That usually does not happen. It’s slowly starting to. The community has been stigmatized. If you are gay or lesbian anything in the spectrum, you can face being discarded.”