Ian Verdun, Actor turns to Drag!
By S. Riviera, VivaLaRiviera.com
Photo by Joe DeAngeles
Ian Verdun is a super talented young man who will catch your eye with his racially mixed good looks but keep you interested with his smarts. Y esos ojasos. Hay papi! Mr Verdun is not only an actor but a writer, and producer. He can dance and sing too people. He’s just an all-around artsy kind of chico. You might recognize him from General Hospital or Grey’s Anatomy but now get ready for Ian Verdun the drag queen! That’s right honey. Ian not only wrote, produced but stars in the new pilot series Life’s A Drag. He stars as a failed actor who turns to drag to make them coins child! A-ha! I recently caught up with this LA native and discovered his super smarts. And now you can too.
Samara: How did you discover your talent for acting?
Ian: I actually caught the acting bug when I was 13! I was in this terrible staged version of Disney’s Mulan (don’t judge, the movie had just come out). I wasn’t on the stage long, but something inside really clicked for me. I was also on the football team, I started playing when I was seven, so by the time I got to high school, my life was pretty much the first season of Glee. I ended up quitting the team so I could play Danny Zuko in Grease, the whole thing was pretty dramatic. After high school I went to Calarts to study acting and the rest is history!
Samara: What are your other talents?
Ian: Well it’s kind of a long list, haha. I was always a really artsy kid, so I dipped my fingers into a little bit of everything. I used to make homemade comics (shameless geek, here) so I loved to draw and write from a very young age. To this day, I always carry around an art pad with me. It’s kind of like my version of a diary. I also love to sing, I did plenty musicals in school and used to be in a few choirs, plus I sang a lot of the solos at church when I was younger. I dance as well, so really, I do a bit of everything. I’m like a quadruple threat.
Samara: Tell us about Life’s a Drag?
Ian: Life’s a Drag is my little passion project and I’m super stoked to share it with everyone. It’s about a struggling artist who turns to drag in order to make ends meet. Only thing is, he starts to really enjoy it. And being in the glitter filled world of drag starts to bring out parts of himself that he thought he’d buried. I wrote it after I’d had a pretty rough year, and started sending it to people to get feedback. One thing led to another and a few months later we had this stellar team together and a truly beautiful project. I really feel like there’s nothing out there quite like it, and that the world is ready for this kind of story. I don’t want to give too much away, but I definitely think people are in for a fun ride. I mean, come on, it’s about freakin’ Drag Queens!
Samara: Have you done drag before?
Ian: Never! I mean, there was some gender switching in plays in college, but nothing close to resembling contemporary drag. I actually went into the whole process pretty nervous about how I was gonna pull it off. I mean, I’d never even worn heels before, let alone 6 inch stiletto platforms; and I had to dance in them! One thing I can say is, the whole process gave me a newfound respect for queens and how much work goes into the art form. It’s a lot of work, and it takes balls to put on a dress and a wig and go out in front of an audience. But I can understand why people do it, you really get to let yourself go and embrace the fantasy of it all. For as much makeup is on you, it can be pretty freeing.
Samara: We started with theater, film, TV and now web. What are your thoughts on that?
Ian: Well this is where my art student past comes out, haha. At the end of the day these things are all just mediums. People love to tell stories, it’s so basic to how will live your lives, convey messages and discuss the human condition that we really don’t take a step back and realize how ubiquitous it all is. What’s changed is how people access those stories, how an audience can get involved with those stories, and now with the web and digital media, it’s really opened the door to who all can tell those stories. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the theatre. An actor’s home is on the stage, but what makes theater so beautiful is the fact that it’s finite. No two shows are ever the same, and once a run is done, it’s finished forever. Theater is alive, and unless you were there to experience the electricity, you’ll have missed it forever. But film, TV, and to a greater extent, web content, lasts forever. It’s a moment that can be preserved, perfected and then spread around the globe in a matter of seconds. There’s a lot of storytelling power there. And, I think, a lot of responsibility. When you have a message reaching that many people, you really have to consider just what that message is, because like it or not, it will influence someone out there. Hopefully you’ve done your part to make it something positive.
Samara: When and where will Life’s a Drag be available?
Ian: The million dollar question. I can’t go into much detail quite yet, but I can say you can expect to see some first class fish later on this year.
Samara: I hear you’re also working with musical artist Jessica Sutta?
Ian: We are, and I’m so happy she agreed to work with us! Not only is she talented as all hell, the woman is a genuine sweetheart and she works her butt off. My producer, Toofun West, and I already knew Jessica before we went into production. Once we got to the conversation about music (because what is drag without a pop standard or two) we just knew we had to get her involved. It was one of those things that just worked out perfectly.
Samara: What can you tell us about the cast?
Ian: Our cast and crew is really top notch, I have to say. First and foremost, there’s Sebastian La Cause. He really is a powerhouse of a talent. He actually had his own series called “Hustling” which was a youtube hit, and he’s also on this little known show called “Orange is the New Black”. Sebastian directed, shot, edited, and is in the show as well. There’s also Santana Dempsey, who’s been making waves on The Newsroom and Lifetime’s Megachurch murder. One thing that was very important to me was to make sure the cast was diverse. I love that diversity has become such a potent narrative in Hollywood and I knew that if I was going to do a show of my own, that my cast needed to reflect the colorful world that I actually live in. Different shapes, sizes, identities, colors, and backgrounds. It just makes everything feel so much more relatable to me, so much more real. We’re also in talks with some of Ru’s girls. Can’t say who just yet, but there are definitely some good ones.
Samara: Any other projects you working on?
Ian: I’m actually in development for a feature called “Worthy”, that I’ve been working on for a little while. It’s a story about a family learning to cope with the suicide of their youngest son. It’s pretty personal to me, much like all my work, but there have been two suicides in my family in the last 30 years and the issue is something I’ve wanted to tackle on screen for some time now. It’s much more serious than “Life’s a Drag”, but sometimes you have to deal with serious subject matter. I’m a storyteller after all.
Samara: And lastly everybody is talking about Bruce Jenner. What are your thoughts?
Ian: This is a dangerous question as I have SO much to say about the Kardashians as a whole. Suffice it to say, I think that Bruce Jenner’s coming out is possibly the best thing that has come out of the shit show that is the Kardashian machine. The Kardashians offer absolutely nothing to society aside from the rapid degradation of contemporary culture into a vapid cesspool of self-congratulations, manufactured fame, and shallow, blatant materialism without actually having to be good at anything aside from public relations. Bruce, however, was a national icon, an Olympian. The man was on Wheaties for Christ’s sake! I think its incredibly brave of him to be so public with his transition. Such visibility on trans issues was unheard of just a few short years ago, and for him to use his ill begotten, Kardashian tainted fame as a tool to educate people who would otherwise remain ignorant of this very human issue, is commendable. We need more people who carry the mantle of fame to be as transparent. It paves the way for a whole new generation to not feel so alone, and little by little it helps to facilitate tolerance, by simply informing people. Bravo Bruce, bravo.