“This is it! This is life, the one you get – so go and have a ball!”
And that’s exactly what the cast of Netflix’s One Day At A Time did on Sunday on the AmBi float at West Hollywood Pride.
Actors Justina Machado (@justinamachado), Todd Grinnell (@toddgrinnell), India de Beaufort (@indiadebeaufort), Sheridan Pierce (@sheridan_pierce), and Nicky Endres (@mxnickye) all joined the AmBi Los Angeles float, smiling and waving to the thousands of parade attendees. But while most of the cast had attended Pride parades before, that didn’t negate the magic of attending a celebration of all things queer.
“It’s the most amazing energy that I’ve seen anywhere in the longest time,” marveled Grinnell, who plays Schneider on the show. “It’s incredible. It’s electric. I wish everybody could be here and see how much love and how much energy there is and so much excitement.”
“The energy is so fun,” Pierce added. Pierce gives life to Sy, the nonbinary partner of Elena, a queer Latinx main character. “I love just seeing everyone smiling and happy and people are dancing in the streets. It’s the best kind of parade you could ever have, better than Disneyland. (And) I think everyone at AmBi has been so nice and really so welcoming to me, and to everyone on ODAAT. And I’m so grateful to all of you about being so cool towards us and having us be a part of this.”
While One Day At A Time was tragically canceled, both cast and the producers are hopeful to get the Alvarez family another shot to tell their story, shopping the series around Hollywood in hopes of finding life at a new network. And the prospects are encouraging.
But in the meantime, Machado and the gang were happy to bring their presence and support to the parade – especially since a large section of the audience are queer Latinx who draw courage and support from the show. And that demographic is growing with time – a recent study concluded Latinx millennials are less likely to identify as heterosexual than their peers.
“The show is so important because people come up to us all the time,” Machado observed. Machado stars as Penelope, an Army vet and single mother who works as a nurse while heading the Alvarez family and living in Echo Park. “Especially young people that are part of the LGBTQ community, they go up to Isabella (@Isabella_Gomez) all the time. They so relate to her character.” (Gomez plays Machado’s lesbian daughter, Elena, in the series.)
“And I’m always getting thanked,” Machado continued, smiling. “I’m always saying, I’m having people telling me I wish you were my mom, you know, because of this I came out to my mom.”
India de Beaufort, who brings life to Avery as Schneider’s love interest (and Grinnell’s wife in real life), also noted how much solace the young queer community pulls from One Day At A Time. “A lot of younger members of the LGBTQ community have reached out and shared their stories of why they’re grateful to the show and why they’re grateful to see themselves represented, and also absorb some of the messages from the show about themselves that are positive, and share their stories with each other. They’ve been able to gather a community of fans who are also part of the LGBTQ community and share in this TV show that they love, find each other online and find support when there isn’t always.”
One Day At A Time has become a cult hit for being a wonderfully inclusive narrative, which is already highlighting a wide cross-section of demographics. Nicky Endres, who plays Cynthia, a vet who is a member of Machado’s character’s therapy group, loves what the show has done so far.
On the one hand, it’s universally recognizable as good storytelling. I definitely love the conscientious inclusion of people of color, a Latinx family in particular, [and] gay and gender non-conforming main characters. I think it reflects reality the best, and we need more of that. The show and showrunners … are just very in the moment and forward-thinking about the future, and the next generation. As a fan I’ve always trusted their vision, and as an employee, I’ve seen it at work.
And since ODAAT has done tremendous work with representation, some of the cast members hope to see even more demographics explored and deepened when it gets picked up. “One of the groups that we’ve touched on quite a bit is people who have suffered from mental health issues,” Grinnell mused. “A report just came out last week [showing] that is one of the most underrepresented groups. What’s interesting is like all of the different various groups that they represent on this show all have that in common. Whatever community you’re from, we all are touched by mental health issues in some way, whether it’s a relative or ourselves or whatever. It’s a very common thread, so I’d like to keep exploring that.”
Pierce, for her part, would like to see a different part of Syd’s life explored. “Well, something that I think would be interesting for ODAAT to cover or address would be because obviously we know that Syd is nonbinary, but to address that at times Syd is more female-presenting. And that’s something I know I’ve seen a lot of fans comment on, but I think if the show had maybe an episode that would address that and that nonbinary people can present however they want. It doesn’t mean, ‘that person’s dressed like a girl, so then they’re a girl.’”
While most of the ODAAT cast at the parade identify as allies, they definitely recognized that good allyship is a learning process. When I asked Grinnell what was the best advice he could give for the loving-but-oblivious Schneiders in our lives, he laughed.
Schneider is oblivious. But he leads with love. He’s like a Golden Retriever. He doesn’t really know much, but he shows up, and is happy and supportive and loving. I think that’s really the key to everything. If you don’t have the answers, don’t try to have the answers. Just be curious and open and willing to learn and just show up for the people you love. I mean that’s really what everybody should do all the time.
Pierce also recognized that Pride is not just a celebration, but a celebration borne out of resistance – and one that is still needed today.
There were two [same-sex] women in London that were attacked on a bus, and I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between that story and what happens to Syd and Elena in an episode on Season 3 where they were also harassed on a bus. They weren’t beaten up or hit in any way, but just the fact that those stories seem so similar to me really broke my heart. ODAAT is telling these kinds of stories and talking about experiences that really happen to queer people just being out in the world and existing, and being harmed for it is really awful. And so all my love goes out to those two women. I’m glad that Pride events exist.
While the Pride parade was joyous and at times emotional for the cast, ultimately it left most of them with a feeling of hope. When de Beaufort was asked for a final thought, she had this to say:
In the current climate, even when it feels like you are not being supported the way you should be, there are thousands, hopefully millions, of people out there who do support and love every single person and every single human on this planet, and stand by you and want for you what we all want, which is to be loved and live a happy and content live, and to be treated with the kindness and respect. And Todd (Grinnell) and I are standing by every single person who needs it.
We couldn’t agree more. Here’s to a Happy Pride. March on, #SaveODAAT … and, of course, have a ball.