Molly Ringwald: Pretty in Print

Former teen queen and first-time author Molly Ringwald marvels at the abundance of gay characters in her life and the absence of gay characters in her movies.



MOLLY RINGWALD 4 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMHigh school ensembles today are obviously much more likely to include an openly gay character, like The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Griffin, a gay student, was introduced last season, and a gay male couple was even considered as adoptive parents for Amy’s baby. That’s not bad for an ABC Family show.
The show’s creator, Brenda Hampton, is an interesting individual because some parts of herself are so conservative and some are liberal, so our show ends up representing all these different points of view. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obviously I’m happier when things are more liberal because I’m very liberal. Originally, the gay couple was actually going to adopt the baby — it was a consideration that Amy wasn’t going to keep the baby and that it was going to be adopted by this gay couple. I was very excited about it and kind of upset when that didn’t happen, but I understand the reasons why she made the choice that she made. I still thought it was great that that was even a viable option and that it was the couple who decided not to do it rather than them being turned down.

Have you ever played a lesbian character?
No, I never have! I would be totally open to it. People have sent me scripts with lesbian parts, but I’ve turned them down — not because I didn’t want to play a lesbian but because it wasn’t well written. I’m totally into it.

You were a regular on the first season of The Facts of Life. What do you remember about that infamous 1979 pilot episode, in which Blair insinuates that her tomboy classmate, Cindy, is a lesbian?
I remember nothing about that. Wow. Now that you say that, it sort of rings a bell, but I did not remember that at all.

Were you too young to understand the gay implications?
I knew what being gay was before I did Facts of Life because I did the West Coast production of Annie, which opened in San Francisco, and all the dressers were gay. I remember my mom talking to me about it. I was actually in San Francisco right when all that stuff was going on with Harvey Milk. I remember my mom talking to me about the Twinkie defense, and she told me the whole story of the murders, how it was a travesty, and how it never should’ve happened. We had conversations about what it meant to be gay, so I knew about that when I did Facts of Life, but for some reason I don’t remember that episode.

Your character was phased out at the very beginning of season 2, but surely you remember the sexual tension between Blair and Jo when Nancy McKeon joined the cast.
[Laughs] You know, Nancy McKeon sort of replaced me in a way. They were trimming down the cast to just four girls, and originally I was going to be one of those girls. But then they changed their mind, decided to go with Nancy McKeon, and booted me out.

See, now that’s the kind of stuff your gay fans need to read about in great detail. I know your new book is part of a two-book deal, so could there be a full-on memoir in your future?
Not as a part of this two-book deal. I feel I’m too young to write my autobiography, so that won’t come for quite a while. To be honest, I really want to write about something else other than me — maybe fiction. I am interested in other things besides myself.

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