Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS

Playwright Selina Fillinger’s POTUS will be having its Los Angeles premiere @ the Geffen Playhouse January 25th

By: Jan. 23, 2024
Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS

Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS

Playwright Selina Fillinger’s POTUS Or, Behind Every Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive will be having its Los Angeles premiere at The Geffen Playhouse January 25, 2024 (with previews already started). Jennifer Chambers directs the cast of Ito Aghayere, Alexandra Billings, Lauren Blumenfeld, Shannon Cochran, Jane Levy, Deirdre Lovejoy and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Selina agreed to give me some insights behind POTUS and her other works.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Selina!

What was the initial spark that led to your creation of POTUS?

In 2016, the Hollywood Access tapes were leaked, and Trump was heard around the world talking about grabbing women's genitals. That was the moment that first brought my pen to paper. After Trump was elected and the data showed how many white women had voted for him, the play coalesced into a darker allegory of complicity. 

When you write, do you have a picture of the characters you’re writing for? Do you write with an actor or actress in mind?

Very rarely. I try to write plays that can be playable by a variety of actors in a variety of communities. 

Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS What would your three-line pitch for POTUS be?

A derogatory comment, a summit gone awry, an anal abscess — it’s a bad day at the White House. When the President unwittingly spins a PR nightmare into a global crisis, the seven women he most relies upon risk life and liberty to save the day. 

How hands-on are you with this Los Angeles premiere?

I was involved in auditions and the first two weeks of rehearsals. I'll come back to give little notes in the final previews and to celebrate the opening. Director Jennifer Chambers and I discussed the play and her vision for this production at length before we started rehearsals, so even though I am not in the room every day, I feel plugged in. 

How involved were you in the 2022 New York premiere?

I was heavily involved, and I was revising the play up until press opening. I was commuting weekly between a writers’ room in Los Angeles and our New York rehearsals for POTUS, so I wasn't at every single rehearsal, but I was in the room as much as I could be. 

YInterview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS our four plays (so far produced) have subject matters of a wide variety of topics. Where did all the various inspirations come from?

My ideas come from everywhere: articles I read, conversations I overhear, my deepest fears, my desires, my dreams. I try to keep my ear to the ground and remain curious; when I'm in that state, the stories find me. 

You studied both acting and playwriting at Northwestern. Where did you originally see yourself? Onstage/in front of the camera? Offstage in the writers’ room?

I started as an actor and assumed that would be my primary career in the arts. I never imagined myself as a professional playwright, though I used to be interested in being a political speechwriter. 

Your list of awards and recognitions is longer than most people twice your age. Any particular honor still stands above the rest for you?

Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS From a financial perspective, the Laurents/Hatcher Award changed my life. I had never received so much money and it was a sum I could truly survive on for the year. It gave me the freedom to focus on writing without scrambling to pay my bills.

Awards are always lovely, of course. But I try not to give them too much weight or thought; once you start requiring other people to tell you if your work is good or not, your internal compass starts to glitch from lack of use. Art is subjective. I may write something one day that I love, but all the critics and judges hate. When that moment comes, I will need to be able to stand behind my own work and give myself my flowers. The greatest honor is always working with artists I admire. 

What was your initial reaction to being named on Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Hollywood/Entertainment for 2024?

Interview: Selina Fillinger's Making an Insightful Statement with POTUS I laughed. I thought, "They must not realize I'm an anti-capitalist." But it's an honor to be in such company. The others on the list are so cool. 

Do you have a couple of new plays percolating in your creative brain?

Always. 

What’s in the near future for Selina Fillinger?

The summer and fall were full of travel for various POTUS productions so this winter I am hunkering down at home to do research and generate some new work. 

Thank you again, Selina! I look forward to meeting your Ladies of the White House.

For tickets to POTUS through February 18, 2024; click on the button below:




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