The highly anticipated second season of the hit documentary series DRAG HEALS is set to make its premiere this October 2nd, 2020 at 8pm ET/PT on OUTtv Canada, its digital platform OUTtvGO.com and OUTtv channels on Amazon and Apple TV.
DRAG HEALS season 2 is a hybrid stage workshop and documentary TV series that follows eight drag artists over an intensive ten day workshop to build their own show. In each workshop, a guest coach joins stage director Tracey Erin Smith in exploring soul-deep story sharing techniques as well as the unique talents and skills required from a drag performer.
The guest coaches this season include Leon Silvers, who developed drag therapy into a clinical practice, professional makeup artist Kosta MUA who helps refine and elevate the performers looks, choreographer Jeff Dimitrios who brings the moves, and community mentors Flarington King, Titus Androgynous, Beardoncé and Champagna who offer sage advice from their experience working as drag artists in Canada and around the world.
Over the course of the intensive workshops and story crafting, the participants dive deep into their personal lives to unearth lessons learned and bring them back to the audience as a gift. They are both the pirate and the pirated, the island and treasure. The resulting stories are emotional and cathartic, both for the drag artists and the audience who share in the experience.
“In a time when so many of us are feeling alone, viewers see how a diverse group of strangers can come together, and by sharing their deepest stories, create a beautiful community.” said Creator and Host Tracey Erin Smith.
“Drag Heals challenges the conventions of drag dominating television and ushers in something new – an inclusive and diverse ensemble featuring drag kings, queens, things and in-betweens with the youngest cast member eighteen years old and the eldest in their eighties.” said Director Charlie David. “Instead of a competition where negativity may thrive, Drag Heals is a celebration of the uniqueness of each participant. In the series, we tackle tough discussions head-on around the language and culture used in drag and when it can be unknowingly hurtful. An example would be the common use of the term ‘fishy’ as a compliment to a drag queen but how that word may be derogatory to women as it’s assigning a negative attribute to female anatomy. There’s also a lot of Black appropriation in drag used by non-Black people. I hope the series sheds a light on some of these challenges so we as the LGBTQ community can learn and do better. In Drag Heals, the cast isn’t just performing a lip synch, they’re grabbing hold of the mic and saying something important.”
“After a successful first season, we’re thrilled to welcome Drag Heals back for a second,” said Philip Webb, Head of Originals and Development at OUTtv. “This documentary series gives drag fans an emotional insight behind the scenes of eight drag artists who are at the very start of their drag journey and explores important topics such as gender expression and queer identity. Drag Heals is moving, relatable and uplifting.”
Season Two features 11 episodes that will release weekly in addition to a companion digital series, T with T.E.S., with stage director Tracey Erin Smith that will be released on the Border2Border Entertainment YouTube Channel and OUTtvGO.
About Border2Border Entertainment
Border2Border Entertainment produces and promotes award-winning, critically acclaimed film, television and digital projects for the LGBTQ+ audience. Dedicated to making each production experience enjoyable for our artists, business and broadcast partners, co-workers, and ultimately our audience. Our ongoing relationships with TV networks, film festivals and digital platforms keep our content in demand making our home-grown Canadian content watched by millions around the globe.
OUTtv is the world’s first and Canada’s only national LGBTQ+ television network and streaming services. Home to a compelling mix of inclusive, queer-focused content from comedy to drama, documentaries, reality and award-winning movies. OUTtv is dedicated to telling stories by and for the community, with a library of over 3000 hours of LGBTQ+ content including more than 600 hours of original programming, making OUTtv the world’s leading provider of queer content.
Originals include The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, The Whole Package, Trixie Mattel: Skinny Legend, Never Apart TV, My Trans Journey and the documentary strand OutSpoken. OUTtv is the license holder for the Canadian broadcasts of Emmy award winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, House of Drag, Naked Attraction and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. OUTtvGo is OUTtv’s streaming platform where subscribers can stream their favorite series and movies and discover new content exclusive to the service. OUTtvGo is available for iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Roku and on web browsers. OUTtv is also available in Canada as an Amazon Prime Video Channel and an Apple TV Channel. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @OUTtv or visit the website to learn more at outtv.ca.
Natasha Balakrishnan is of South Indian origin born in Kerala, India; brought up in the middle east, Kuwait, and moved to Toronto, Canada at the age of fifteen. Natasha is a professional dancer, choreographer, and a working actor in Toronto, Canada . Her latest starring role is in Charlie David’s Shadowlands anthology TV miniseries.
Natasha Balakrishnan’s passion for dance, arts, and the entertainment field began at the tender age of five where she started off with theater/drama and dancing for local shows. Her main expertise lies in the classical dance form known as Bharatnatyam and proceeded to expand her talent with many other styles which include Bollywood, Hip Hop, Bhangra, and Contemporary incorporated with fusion.
Having performed in many platforms, Natasha Balakrishnan carried on her pursuit for dance in many different countries like New York, Germany, Kuwait, California, and India, and was further able to showcase her talent on National TV for the television show named ‘Canada’s Got Talent’ Season 1 in 2012.
She started her own YouTube channel as her outlet to creativity and passion for arts where she directs, choreographs, and incorporates acting through her concept videos. Her classical fusion choreography to ‘Taal se Taal Mila’ by A.R. Rahman has reached over a million views on YouTube. Natasha was awarded ‘First Runner Up’ and ‘Miss Congeniality’ at the 2014 Miss India Canada Pageant and ‘Miss Best Talent’ at the 2015 Miss India Worldwide Canada Pageant. In 2014, she was featured on a billboard advertisement for South Asian designer Boutique- ‘Aalayaa’.
Natasha was featured in the film ‘Dr.Cabbie’ with Bollywood stars; namely, Vinay Virmani, Isabel Kaif, and Kunal Nayyar. She performed for the Pan Am Olympic Games 2015 Opening Ceremonies with Cirque Du Soleil representing her Indian culture and heritage, including several other shows and corporate events, which include the Toronto Raptors basketball games, the WE Day concert, WE Day music video with Kardinal Offishall ft. Karl Wolf, and Holt Renfrew’s Uncrate India just to name a few.
With her professional expertise and training in the field, she has been fortunate to judge dance competitions; namely, in Detroit and in the City of Toronto, experiencing young and fresh talent on some amazing platforms. Natasha has also performed with Indian film music composer, Anirudh Ravichander, and collaborated with award winning rapper, Lady Kash, from Singapore. She choreographed for her recent song release “Supermodel”, composed for the film ‘Graghanam’; the album bagged by Yuvan Shankar Raja’s, U1 Records.
Natasha is working meticulously towards pursuing a career in films and is honing her acting skills by training with other budding artists in Toronto, Canada. She was a competitor, performer, and actor on Season 2 of OMNI Television Documentary series named “Bollywood Star”
Tell us about your story in the Shadowlands anthology. What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?
Natasha Balakrishnan: I play Thalia in the Shadowlands anthology and she is someone who brings a lot of love and humanity in a world that is affected by the war where people are becoming inhumane and vile.
Her love for Alex is immense and while he is no longer the same man she fell in love with, she refuses to believe that she cannot bring him back. His narcissistic ways and his obsession for perfection has left him no room to give love to anyone but himself.
Thalia will stop at nothing to make him see clearly but when it is all too late, she recognizes the Alex she treasured is gone and must put an end to the evil that persists. My main challenge with Thalia was playing a woman from the 1920’s Berlin and really understanding her love for Alex.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
Natasha Balakrishnan: I believe that while you take the essence of you, and your passion into your work; you are playing a life, a person, which requires you to explore and tap into the spiritual, emotional, and physical being of that personality/character and its not about who you are but the life that you’re taking on and you live the reality of that character.
The stories in the Shadowlands anthology TV show were inspired by the Shadowlands book which was inspired by Greek mythology. What was your experience in creating a remix of these ancient classical tales?
Natasha Balakrishnan: When I first got the audition for Shadowlands, I was very eager and I had immediately done my research on Charlie David, his book, and the Greek Myths tied to my character and Narcissus. I was more than ready for the audition!
It was very exciting playing someone from the 1920’s; something completely out of my comfort zone and knowledge. I am thankful to Charlie for believing in me to play Thalia. When I booked the part, I did tons of research on the ‘Golden 20’s’, got coaching, watched tons of movies in that era, the types of music, and wrote a backstory for Thalia and her love interest with Alex whose characters were inspired from the Greek myths of Narcissus and his Echo.
What aspects of the Shadowlands anthology TV show are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?
Natasha Balakrishnan: I am excited for the audience to see it all! I had the privilege of watching it with my team at one of our film festival premiers and it is definitely a roller coaster ride of emotions and quite the tales that Charlie David takes you through.
I loved the uniqueness and creativity brought in each episode. They are each shot in a different time period which is thrilling. I would love to have the audience experience what Charlie David and the entire team has put together throughout the Shadowlands anthology series.
What was the hardest scene for you to do and why?
Natasha Balakrishnan: I wouldn’t say anything was particularly hard but I definitely found it a bit challenging. I had to shoot a very intense scene right when I got to set the first day. We started the shoot for the ‘Narcissus’ episode with my scene where a gun is being delivered to my house with a note to kill myself by someone who I truly love.
I had to go through many thoughts in a short spam of time and I found that a bit of a challenge; to jump in and out of emotions when circumstances prior to that scene were not shot yet. But that is what I loved most about Thalia and this film production; I felt challenged/nervous by this role and wanted to give it my all. Like the saying – “What doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you.”
Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?
Natasha Balakrishnan: Well I surely believe that creative inspiration is sparked through influence and there are many wonderful people who inspire me everyday. My mother is my biggest inspiration because of her strength and courage to always persevere no matter what. This is a huge driving force to pursue my passion and to stay focused and optimistic.
Also, fine artists like Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Jennifer Lawrence, Radhika Apte, Nawazuddin, Meryl Streep, Alia Bhatt, Morgan Freeman, Amitabh Bachchan, and Leonardo DiCaprio just to name the least; inspire me to work hard everyday on my craft and to never stop learning and growing creatively.
Is there a type of role you dream of playing but haven’t had the opportunity yet?
Natasha Balakrishnan: Oh yeah of course, there’s tons I dream of playing! I definitely have miles to go and want to live a thousand lives through this career path of mine.
I would LOVE to play an action-packed role like a boxer or a marvel superhero!! I love watching strong female oriented roles and I would love to take on those.
In addition to acting, tell me about the other areas of entertainment you’re pursuing.
Natasha Balakrishnan: Apart from my love for acting, I also have an immense passion for dance, music, and poetry. I started my own YouTube channel back in 2014 which is my biggest creative outlet. I began producing, directing, and choreographing my own dance/concept videos by reaching out to local artists and collaborating with them to create art.
It’s an amazing feeling to see your vision come to life through team efforts and I truly enjoy working on them. When I first started my YouTube Channel, I just needed a platform to be creatively inclined. I never really imagined how many people I could reach out to until one of my videos went viral and hit close to 3 million views.
It’s a wonderful feeling when people around the world enjoy your work and it really encouraged me to constantly keep producing anything and everything I had the urge to create. I definitely have tons of creative stuff planned in terms of acting, dance, and music that I can’t wait to release them.
With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain? To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? To incite a conversation?
Natasha Balakrishnan: All of the above really! Film and television is a source of entertainment, an escape, a fantasy, a story that incites conversation, and conceivably allows one to look into things that might have never sparked their interest before and I just absolutely love all of it.
I enjoy being in front of the camera, taking on different lives, and studying them. Art is a study of humanity and understanding the beings that live amongst us. Art is a universal language that truly connects people across the world and can be used as a very informative/influential tool. My motivation as an artist is to tell real people’s stories because in the words of my guru – “Art imitates reality”.
What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?
Natasha Balakrishnan: While I am constantly auditioning and working on my craft as an actor/performer; as a creator, I have always loved poetry/music and I write quite a bit of poetry/lyrics on my own time.
This spontaneously ventured into a very exciting new realm for me this year. I wrote, produced, sang, and creatively directed my first single with the help of a brilliant team. It is currently in post-production as I am eagerly and nervously waiting for its release.
It’s the age old murder mystery question… did the Butler do it? Canadian actor Brian Woodford finds himself in a world of intrigue in the Shadowlands miniseries playing the Butler to a demanding and egocentric master in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’.
Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.
Synopsis of episode 1 ‘Narcissus’: Alex, a plastic surgeon hell bent on perfection, hosts a house party with an assortment of colorful guests. Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.
Brian Woodford is originally from Avondale, Newfoundland and Labrador and is based in Toronto, Ontario. He trained in Theatre at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College before completing his training at Humber College’s Acting for Film and Television Diploma Program.
Woodford attained his B.A. from Memorial University in Newfoundland. He is an avid tennis player, and, when not doing script analysis, is busy working on his backhand.
Charlie David: When you’re approaching a script like Shadowlands and in particular with this episode it’s really quite a surreal world. How do you find anchor points to ground yourself as an actor when the story is so far outside your experience?
Brian Woodford: I look toward my past experiences in life to help develop any character I play. This is in addition to research and development work I do, as well. Drew is someone who is devoted and inspired in life and aims to do his absolute best in working for Alex.
I, too, see myself in Drew in terms of being someone who tries to be my best to those that are close to me in life. Generally, I bring different facets of my personality into all the characters I play.
Charlie David: How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character? And how much did you have to research or imagine?
Brian Woodford:I actually have played a butler before, in an Agatha Christie play, so, I was drawing a bit from that experience – but, Drew is much more complicated than a stereotypical butler. He is torn with his feelings for Alex.
I developed a feel for the character by drawing on a time when I was discovering my sexuality and also times when I was vulnerable and powerless. Drew really just wants things to work out right for those close to him but is a bit naïve in how he goes about it.
Charlie David: What aspects of the Shadowlands miniseries are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?
Brian Woodford: I’m excited for everyone to see the creativity that the cast and crew brought to this show. There was a lot of collaboration involved, not just with myself and my fellow cast members, but the crew as well.
There is a great special effects element in one of my scenes towards the end of the episode. Each episode very much draws the viewer into the close relationships between the characters. Also, folks can check me out in a dapper tux, jk.
Charlie David: Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology. Why is it important to continue sharing the type of stories in the Shadowlands miniseries today?
Brian Woodford: Visibility is so important for all minorities. More content focused on issues facing the LGBT fosters an awareness that is vital.
It also provides understanding for people who may come from different backgrounds and gives them a chance to see and discover more about issues they may not know about firsthand.
Charlie David: What was the hardest scene for you to do and why?
Brian Woodford: The hardest scene I had to do was a scene with Sean who plays the role of Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’. It was my first time using a prosthetic, and it had to be placed precisely so. Well, I don’t want to give away too much – you’ll just have to watch the Shadowlands miniseries!
Charlie David: Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?
Brian Woodford: My parents have really been a big influence on me, generally, as well as being a major source for my creativity. They always said “yes” when I was a kid wanting to act in a play or to take violin, guitar or trumpet class. In hindsight, I took a lot of music classes, haha.