Who is Desiree Akhavan? The star and creator of The Bisexual
Watch out, world, there’s a new talented director on the block and her name’s Desiree Akhavan.
If you’re not familiar with this lady’s work just yet, go watch The Miseducation of Cameron Post and bookmark the premiere of The Bisexual, airing soon on Channel 4.
Akhavan, 34, is a brilliant director, writer and actor. Her most recent work focus with sensitivity on queer women experiencing their sexuality.
She made her film debut with Appropriate Behaviour in 2014, which she wrote, directed and starred in. The movie touches on the intricacies of bisexuality and coming out. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the San Diego Asian film Festival in 2014.
Akhavan followed up with The Miseducation of Cameron Post in 2018, an adaptation of Emily Danforth’s novel of the same name. The movie stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the titular character, Cameron, a teenage girl sent to gay conversion therapy after she’s caught kissing a girl at her prom.
The movie hit the theatres in September and gathered critical acclaimed, with a 87 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It premiered at the Sundance Festival in January and won the Grand Jury Prize.
At the film’s premiere, Akhavan, who is bisexual herself, said she regretted that their weren’t any queer characters in movies when she was growing up.
The writer, director and actor strikes again with new Channel 4 show The Bisexual, a comedy-drama that tells the story of a lesbian who starts dating men and struggles with her new-found bisexuality.
Bisexuality and movie career
Talking to The Guardian, Akhavan expressed her own dissatisfaction coming out as bi. “I came out as that from the get-go, but that word always felt uncomfortable. Bisexual sounds gauche and tacky… Disingenuous,” she explained, “Whereas there’s only pride when I say lesbian, there’s only coolness to say queer.”
“Bisexual didn’t feel like it represented me and I wanted to know why, when technically it very much represents who I am.”
The dissonance between the word bisexual and her identity pushed Akhavan to write the script for Bisexual.
“If I’m walking down the street with a woman, I’m a lesbian; if I’m holding hands with a man, I’m straight,” she said.
“And you see the world through that lens, and everyone treats you accordingly. Your lifestyle is completely different, the people you hang around with are different.”
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“My family was like: ‘Well, if you could choose, why would you choose something that makes everyone so unhappy and that makes your life worse?’ And I understood their point.”
Cameron Post had difficulties finding distributors after the Sundance festival, which Akhavan attributes to the nature of the film. “Things are changing in the industry, but female-driven stories, specifically sexually driven female stories, are very difficult. If there is sex in the film, it has to be a man’s pleasure,” she said.
While she regrets that the industry she’s chosen is still heavily male-dominated, Akhavan won’t stop discussing female sexuality in her films. “I can’t say that I have a manifesto. I’m interested in sexuality and taboos only because I follow where my interests take me,” she told the Irish Times.