She's a co-creator of Here We Wait, fellow Dartmouth College alum with Olivia Baptista and an emerging filmmaker. To say that Diane Chen isn't busy these days is quite the understatement. She's starring in an upcoming play in New York City and is currently working on more projects with Baptista. Check out her interview below!
netTVnow: How did you get involved with the series?
Diane Chen: I started getting really into web series about two years ago, as an emerging filmmaker I was really intrigued by the freedom creators had on the digital media platform. It was sort of a free-for-all and everyone – creators and viewers alike – was playing by their own rules, which I liked a lot. So my co-creator Olivia Baptista and I started brainstorming how we could create our own content – content that we would want to see!
netTVnow: What’s your experience been like with web series? Is this your first one? If so what did you find most surprising/difficult about it?
DC: This is the first web series that I’ve produced and been in, yes! The biggest challenge I think was and is, because digital media is relatively new, as equal partners in this venture Olivia and I faced questions that didn’t have right or wrong answers. When there’s no rule book, two independent creators who differ in many facets of their artistry have to find a common ground and how to always come to an agreement.
netTVnow: You also play Thalia in Here We Wait, who is very aggressive, why do you think she’s the way that she is and how would you describe her?
DC: Ah yes. She certainly doesn’t particularly understand tact, and the reason for that becomes clearer later on in the series. It was really refreshing to play a character and not have to dissect her motivations into three and a half different layers. But even more, I really enjoyed seeing how her ineptitude to connect with people morphed and changed because of Rachel, and in part Kylie. I love Thalia. She’s not socially charming, per se, and when she’s baffled she has no idea what to do with herself. But she’s blunt and perceptive and incredibly smart. Her downfall comes in emotion and in relationships, because they’re partly out of her control.
netTVnow: Will we get to learn more about her backstory and how she became part of Here’s staff?
DC: You will indeed! Thalia’s backstory is a cog in the intricate system that drives the plot of this season, as are the backstories of many of our waitstaff. Hard to elaborate more at this point though!
netTVnow: I know you co-created the series with Olivia, what was that like?
DC: I’ve really enjoyed my journey as both a collaborator and an individual artist in the process of co-creating Here We Wait. When Olivia and I first came up with wanting to make something, we were both thrilled with being able to call the shots. The story was fleshed out to something that we wanted to see and wanted to make, and that was incredible. We would talk and bounce ideas for hours, and Olivia would send scripts, and we would go over them and tweak. A couple of episodes were much more of a co-writing feel. Then we put on our producers’ hats!
netTVnow: Can you tell me more about Multihyphenate Productions and what prompted you and Olivia to start that?
DC: Olivia and I met while we were at Dartmouth College, in the Theater Department. What was really great about that was that we were given a very comprehensive education – academia, history, theory, application and execution. I directed, designed sound and costumes, acted, wrote, produced – you name it. Every project I’ve taken on since, knowing the extent of intricacies of what it takes to make something has always been so humbling, astounding, and rewarding. But in the film industry sometimes it’s more difficult to be able to embrace the Multihyphenate; we wanted to create a space where that was encouraged, and where we could champion the complexities of representation in the industry – people of color, women, the LGBTQ community – and really give that a voice.
netTVnow: How would you describe the series to someone who hasn’t seen it yet?
DC: Hmm...I’d say it’s a really gripping character drama surrounded by an ominous sci-fi bent, a la Orphan Black. I think our dialogue is unique in that it expects a lot from the audience in terms of putting things together. And I think it’s visually pretty stunning!
netTVnow: What do you hope viewers take away from the series?
DC: I would be really happy to see our audiences pick up on how we attempted to execute a high-concept idea on a relatively low budget, and how we hope it’s accessible to all sorts of viewers. The afterlife is a really interesting arena to explore how people differ in opinion and action, and it’s incredibly reflective of how your everyday shapes your future.
netTVnow: Relationships seem to be key in the series very early on, can you talk about the relationship that your character Thalia has with Rachel?
DC: Yes! The reason Olivia and I aspired to a true ensemble cast was because the actor sides of us have always thrived in seeing interpersonal relationships and how they unfold, no matter the plot premise. We start the series already with Thalia and Rachel having a close relationship, although we start to see troubled waters in the next few episodes. The thing is that Thalia doesn’t have an understanding of how to conduct herself in a relationship, but everything she feels she feels with a full intensity. When she starts to really be confused about how she feels about Rachel it’s hard for her to wrap her head around also having to take Rachel’s feelings into consideration.
netTVnow: Any upcoming projects to share or anything else to add?
DC: Currently I’m in rehearsals for a play called Anne Boleyn for President of Class of 2014 that’s going up at Dixon Place in NYC at the end of the month. It’s Anne Boleyn history meets Mean and Gossip Girls, and I’m loving it. The current political climate shift has really colored how we as socially conscious artists are approaching it too, which has been so personal. And of course – watch out for what Multihyphenate Productions decides to embark upon next!