When Drop Dead Diva creator Josh Berman heard Wanda Sykes pay tribute to Constance McMillen (pictured) at the 2010 GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles, he knew he wanted to write an episode about a lesbian couple being barred from attending prom in the Lifetime comedy’s third season. What Berman didn’t know is that he’d manage to snag both Sykes and McMillen for roles in the episode. “After I wrote the episode, I thought it would be my dream casting to have Wanda, but we were informed she wasn’t doing any TV,” Berman says. “We explained that we were inspired by her speech — she quickly accepted.” Berman, who is gay, says casting McMillen was the comedian’s idea. “We didn’t go after her because she isn’t an actress. But after we were all done, Wanda thought it would be a great idea to give Constance a cameo.” The show, which follows the adventures of an up-and-coming model who dies and is reborn in the body of plus-size lawyer Jane (Brooke Elliott), has no regular gay characters. But with subject matter like the prom episode and Diva’s revolving door of gay-iconic guest stars, Berman says he’s focused on connecting with gay fans. “The show is about feeling like an outsider, and I think that’s very relatable to gay and lesbian viewers. It’s the reason I approached this material in the first place.” The episode will air Sunday, July 24 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.
Watch the promo below.