What was it like being on camera all the time? And for how long did the filming go on?
NIKKI: We shot from January through the beginning of May. The production crew was so respectful of our time and space. Most of the time, we actually forgot that the cameras were around us, as they kept a healthy distance and became ﬂies on the wall in our life.
JILL: I agree, the filming was not intrusive. Once we got over the initial ‘newness’ of being on camera, it was very easy to forget they were around. The camera operators somehow always found the corners in a room or faded into the backdrop. We never watched them watching us; instead we simply went about our days in a normal fashion and they observed from a distance.
What are your thoughts on the concept of “u-hauling” within the lesbian community? Does this apply to your relationship?
NIKKI: That term makes me laugh. Most women are very nurturing and have an innate feeling that they need to move in with one another within the ﬁrst month of dating! We actually dated long distance from San Fran to LA and traveled back and forth weekly to see one another. American Airlines knew us by ﬁrst name! U-Hauling became more like Louis Vuitton luggage hauling for seven months. And then we took the big step of moving in with one another. Guilty as charged! 😉
You both have spoken at length about the fluidity of sexuality. What advice would you give to young women attempting to define their own sexuality and gender expression?
JILL: I would encourage all young women to allow themselves the freedom to explore their sexuality, without fear of stereotypes, definitions and labels. Sexuality is such a tremendously complex concept. To me it feels very narrow minded to try and package attractions, emotions and experiences neatly into a box. Too many factors are at play when individuals feel for one another, and moreover those feelings can easily change over time as we grow. The concept of fluidity affords a flexibility to our attractions, understanding that they can change based on an array of situations. I hope that young woman can avoid the societal pressures of having to ‘declare’ a sexual identity (if one doesn’t perfectly fit) and instead, simply experience happiness and love where, when and how they find it.
The dichotomy between “butches and femmes” or “pants and pumps” is not only characterized in the show, but also within the wider gay community? Do you feel this applies to your own relationship and gender expressions?
JILL: I personally don’t find those terms useful. They seem only to be aesthetically-based shortcuts that entitle others to categorize how you must behave or how you should function in a relationship, etc. I suppose this is another example of my struggle with labels. Nikki and I are both quite feminine in style but we certainly share the roles in our relationship. Neither one of us is more dominant than the other, nor does one of us take on a male persona. So I suppose the answer is no, the dichotomy isn’t present between us. We’re just two women in love.
Were you familiar with the L Word before you became involved with the reality series? Why did you decide to try out for the show?
NIKKI: The scripted series “The L Word” was such a groundbreaking show. I was a die hard fan who never missed an episode! While the series was in its last production year and after I had appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” I was contacted by producers who were tossing around the idea of a reality/docu version. This was put on hold until I received another call a few years later telling me to get in touch with Magical Elves [the production company responsible for such shows as Project Runway and Top Chef] as the docu version was going to now be produced by them in conjunction with Ilene Chaiken. They asked me to touch base with Exec Producer Jane Lieptshitz and casting soon called us in thereafter. We wanted to be a part of this series to help someone who may be struggling with their sexuality, to show a relationship between two women in a positive light, to share our story in a way that had never been done previously. If either one of us had a series like this when we were struggling with accepting ourselves, it would have been so helpful.
Top photo: Nikki Weiss, left, and Jill Goldstein (courtesy Showtime)