Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Jamie Babbitt’s satirical conversion therapy movie But I’m a Cheerleader. In response, Clea DuVall, who played the smoldering bad girl Graham, who catches the attention of Natasha Lyonne’s unrepentantly upbeat cheerleader Megan, crafted a sweet tweet sharing that the movie helped her to come out.
Since But I’m a Cheerleader was released, DuVall has starred in Carnivale, Argo, American Horror Story, Veep, and dozens of other projects. She began to speak publicly about her sexual identity in 2016 around the time her feature film The Intervention opened at Outfest, Los Angeles’s LGBTQ+ film festival. DuVall, who also recently appeared on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, just directed her second feature, Happiest Season, a holiday rom-com that stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as girlfriends.
To celebrate But I’m a Cheerleader’s 20th anniversary, DuVall and Lyonne, who are close friends, gave an interview to the Criterion Collection. DuVall discussed working with Babbitt on the film that costars RuPaul, Cathy Moriarty, Melanie Lynskey, Mink Stole, and Bud Cort.
“…The script changed a lot after I first read it, and she [Babbitt] let me bring a lot of myself into the part. It was something I’d never seen before. There were similar kinds of girls in other lesbian stories, and I’d tried to connect with them before, but I hadn’t felt like my experience was authentically represented,” DuVall said. “Jamie was very generous and collaborative and allowed me to write my own lines and wear the clothes I wanted to wear and have my hair how I wanted it—to just be me.”
DuVall also weighed in on lesbian visibility she was aware of in cinema prior to But I’m a Cheerleader.
There was The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, which I was obsessed with, and All over Me, which had elements I connected with,” DuVall said. “I was also just watching girls who I wished were gay but weren’t. Why is the girl falling in love with him? Why isn’t she falling in the love with the girl like me?
Happiest Season is anticipated to be released this holiday season.