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SYFY & Tongal Pride short creator explains 'Paper Doll Blocks' and why 'nobody is one thing'
Pride Month 2021 is here! In celebration, SYFY and Tongal, a global community of content creators, invited a group of animators and filmmakers of the LGBTQ+ community to create video shorts expressing their unique perspectives through the lens of science fiction and fantasy.
These shorts will premiere on the SYFY network and will be featured on SYFY's social handles this month and onward. To dive deeper into the original shorts, SYFY WIRE spoke with the artists to learn the meaning and inspiration behind their works. Below, we caught up with Emanuela Yglesias, creator of "Paper Doll Blocks," which explores the multi-faceted depths of identity and the human experience.
What inspired you to make this piece and what does it mean to you?
My inspiration for "Paper Doll Blocks" is the construction of identity and how it is multifaceted. I mean, nobody is one thing. We are ongoing projects. It is necessary to embrace this fact. Embrace yourself. The richness of human experience is just that, those infinite possibilities. As a woman, Latina, and gay, I'm a peripheral character in the universal plot. We must find spaces like this — for expression, for speech. It is a way of enriching the human experience as a whole. We need to be able to embrace, as a society, all experiences.
What do you love about genre? Tell us about your favorite works or artists and why they speak to you.
I've been a pretty assiduous reader since I was a kid. My first contacts with this universe were the classics. Frankenstein: What inspired Mary Shelley, this 19th-century English woman, to create a creature from fragments of others? The character spends the whole story looking to change or to find someone else like him. To love and to be loved, which is the trigger of his death. Latin classics of fantastic realism like Gabriel Garcia Marques or 19th-century literature like Gogol.
Many references awaken me in this universe. There are many artists that I love for different reasons. Back to the Future is the movie I've watched the most in my life because I'm fascinated by time travel. I'll watch any time travel movie. But McFly is by far the favorite.
Being a little more contemporary, I'm a big fan of themes related to dystopian realities and parallel universes.
The magical and fantastic universes have always brought me this feeling of expanding life. What we see is not everything. Many other magical and unexpected layers hide behind the veils of reality. In a distant future, on another planet, in a distant past, in a parallel reality, in so many possibilities and open doors. That's why it inspires me so much.
This industry is not easy! Who or what initially inspired you to become an artist and what keeps you going when the process or business gets tough?
The work of creating is what drives me forward in the difficult moments of the profession. That moment of insight where things flow, the snap. It came, of course, after a lot of dedication. The act of creating crosses geographic, time, and cultural boundaries. We share this knowledge. The idea of being part of this large human tribe around the bonfire of wisdom is what drives me forward. What else worthy could be done with time?
What does Pride mean to you? Do you have any favorite traditions, events, or forms of expression to honor your identity, either this month or throughout the year?
Pride means to be able to position myself where I am and remain. Because I know so many others around the world are doing this along with me. Pride means that — occupying space and stepping out of invisibility. It's having a voice, a face, and existing.
When did you first recognize LGBTQ+ representation in the fantasy/sci-fi genre? Did it feel like an authentic portrayal?
It took a long time for me to have access to movies or books with LGBTQIA+ characters. Whether in Sci-fi or another genre. When those characters appeared in movies, they seemed stereotyped. Or comedy characters – to make you laugh. The portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters as the hero/heroine of a plot is something very recent. This representation is fundamental. It naturalizes the possibilities and options we have to live our identities. It collaborates with the construction of itself with many people. Hiding LGBTQIA+ people in the closet will not make us cease to exist. But it will make the existence of many people lonelier, harder and sadder. It is also very educational for a large group of people who feel threatened by the very existence of LGBTQIA+ people.
What would fully equitable representation of LGBTQ+ experiences and artists in the media look like to you?
We have not yet reached a representativeness standard that normalizes the experiences. Seeing a gay couple or having a gay couple or even a gay kiss in a movie, book, etc., is still a newsworthy event. It is clear that the LGBTQIA+ community still suffers persecution. In some nations to be gay is still a crime that carries the death penalty. Those are facts that show how long this road is. The idea that a person is being persecuted and tortured now (2021) because they are LGBTQIA+ is outrageous. On May 17, 1990, OMS took homosexuality off the list of mental diseases. It was yesterday. Unfortunately, we're not even halfway there yet.