Cathy DeBuono is a rare actress in Hollywood. While many actresses remain in the closet, or at least “guarded” about their personal lives, she is not only out and proud, but is actively seeking out lesbian roles.
She’s involved in a relationship with another Hollywood actress, and without too much digging, you can find out who it is. “Being on the internet is really interesting,” she says. “People really know a lot about you and there’s been some learning curve about how to protect that part of your life.
I have someone in my life and it’s very special and important to me and I want to protect it a little bit.”
A gifted athlete growing up, Cathy DeBuono was a heavily recruited volleyball player. She attended the University of Kentucky on a full athletic scholarship and even played on the Olympic team (although not in an Olympic year.)
Cathy DeBuono Discovers ActingWhile in college she met Ashley Judd who cast her in a school play and encouraged Cathy to pursue acting. Which she did, with gusto. She landed small parts on TV shows like Chicago Hope and Martial Law and had a recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the late 90s. After a while, she headed back to school and received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology in 2003. She’d probably still be a practicing psychologist today if Lee Friedlander hadn’t sought her out for a part in her film "Out at the Wedding."
DeBuono plays Risa, a lesbian who pretends she is in love with a straight girl. She says she was really attracted to the role of Risa because she was such a great character.
"What I loved about Risa was she was a gay girl who gets wrapped up in this straight girl’s lie. You watch this human being go through falling in love, not she’s a gay person falling in love, the way some stories do. Where the fact that they’re gay takes the focus. For Risa, it’s just that she’s a human being. It made it different, I really liked that." Most of the projects she’s involved with are gay in some way. "They’re the stories of our lives,” she says. “It’s what we want to see. We needed the coming out stories, but now we want to see our lives."
DeBuono now has her toes in many projects. She’s done a few shorts, including a detective film noir called Tremble and Spark and Spitfire a short where she plays a firefighter. She’s also creating her own series called Slate & Kelly about a lesbian and her gay best friend who are private detectives because they were kicked out of the police academy. "Her for being trigger happy. Him for not being able to pick up his gun."
Seeking Lesbian RolesWhen asked if she was specifically seeking out lesbian roles, she responded, "I guess so. It’s not that I’m opposed to other roles, it’s just that the world of gay entertainment has grown and there’s more available in that niche of the market now. It’s what brought me back into acting because that market didn’t exist the first time. I’m not opposed to playing stories that aren’t gay, but I do think I prefer to play them. I like telling our stories and playing our characters and giving them life. I’m not actively opposed to seeking out straight things, I just find myself swimming around in the gay niche of the market and I love it there."
What's Your Problem?She’s happy for the new gay opportunities like HereTV and Logo, plus she has a strong presence on the web. She has a video blog on The Smoking Cocktail called “What’s Your Problem?” where she dishes with other Hollywood celebrities and then answers real psychology questions from viewers around the world.
She says her aim is to keep it fun. "To keep it something that you would look forward to tuning into and that you would have a good time watching, and where you felt like you were hanging out with your friends. There are a lot of people in the world who don’t have any gay friends. They don’t have anywhere to go… I wanted it to be a good time and not get too heavy or boring. At the end of the day when you walked away from it, you had a good time, but you got some truly relevant heartfelt advice from your friends."
The show has taken off because she gets hundreds of letters from all over the world. The most common questions are about coming out. "People what to know: Should they come out? How do they come out? When do they come out? What’s going to happen when they come out? Is it a good idea to come out? Can I live my life without coming out? There are a lot of questions around that." She adds, "The next most popular is how can I tell if I’m bisexual or if I’m gay or if this is a phase?"
The Web is Where It's AtDeBuono is putting a lot of her efforts into the web. I asked her what role she thought the web was going to play in the future of gay and lesbian entertainment. "There is no better place to reach more people," she says. "It’s worldwide. In terms of demographic, the people of the world who don’t live in the gay Mecca of the world like I do, they’re looking for community. They’re looking for gay community and the first place they go is on line. They’re also looking for gay entertainment. And not only is it convenient, it’s also somewhat anonymous. There are a lot of places in the world who don’t get Logo and don’t get Here and have to wait for the DVD sales. Everyone has a computer now. You just type in an address and boom, you’re there. You’re at your favorite gay programming."
She continued, "I am by no means an expert in this, but I think all of entertainment media is going to there. I think eventually our computers and our TVs are just going to be one thing, but I think especially for gay entertainment, it’s a genius place to provide programming because there are so many people in the world who are looking for it, who are starving for it and who are going to find you if you provide it."