A keen eye for detail in all three of her Hollywood disciplines makes the ‘A List’ just a matter of time. remember you read it here first!
The first thing I noticed about writer/director/actor Dakota Gorman were her eyes; hypnotic, mesmerizing, wise and profoundly interesting. There’s a definite edge which she credits to her growing up in a California family that didn’t have boundaries; an up-bringing that allowed Gorman to approach everything in her life with a raised eyebrow, a healthy dose of skepticism, and a question always at the forefront of any conversation. She grew up in Santa Monica and was em-bedded in the surf and skate culture there, a certain kind of vibe that has a very raw feel to it as well–nothing’s really polished, everyone’s just who they are.
This free spirit has lead Gorman to her directorial debut, All About Sex, a film that follows the lives of twenty something females as they navigate adult life; well, their adult sex lives, a modern-day Sex and the City. Gorman credits a lot of her male friends with giving her an inside view of how men look at sex and how they approach it. “Like-wise a lot of my female friends tend to have a more masculine energy to them so it’s not like this precious thing,” admits Gorman. “It’s like this is exactly what I’m experiencing and I just personally gravitated to the humor of how kind of flippant they were when they were talking about it [sex]. And it was just like okay this happened to me. Has this happened to you? And I think just the genuine-ness made me crack up. So I really wanted to put something out there that other people have to be feeling too so let’s open the dialogue about it.”
Acting, directing, writing. Gorman has the three coveted traits that Hollywood insiders crave. You’ve seen her in the television series Teen Wolf and Criminal Minds. As for directing, maybe the next Greta Gerwig? We’ll see. For now it’s encouraging to hear due to the simple fact that Gerwig happens to be a huge inspiration for Gorman. “It’s so uplift-ing and such a confidence boost. She’s so real. She’s so quirky and she utilizes that. And she kind of has a spectrum of stuff that she does between her acting like in Frances Ha and her being able to direct something like Little Woman,” insists Gorman. “Makes me feel like all these years of just mental turmoil are kind of worth it and paying off and you know it’s nice to hear you’re young and up-and-coming but this has been so embedded in me since before I was even 18 and it feels like it’s already a lifelong journey.
“I love the dichotomy of life. I don’t think there’s a categorization of anything. I think that everything is a spectrum. Everything is nuanced and circumstantial. And I think that humor and trauma kind of coexist together, always, even in the hardest moments. And you know I haven’t always had the easiest time in life but I found a way to use humor to like navigate it. And so I think that I draw myself to projects that I get that same sense from so that it’s not just strictly comedy or drama.”
While Gorman celebrates the release of All About Sex, she’s currently in pre-production on her next directing project, Late Bloomers, written by Sam Kozé and Gary Alan Wright. A story about a group of teenage friends diagnosed with cancer whose rebellious behavior spirals out of control. Gorman sets the tone with humor and the dynamic between different people.
“When you strip away the kind of veneer we put on to present ourselves this way to the world. When you’re dying, do you care about that stuff the same way? Or are you just laying out all on the line? And I think that’s where your personality really shines. And in the script that Sam and Gary wrote, they just really brought these extreme personalities and I’ve had so much fun digging even deeper into them and really seeing the recklessness and maybe that’s because there’s was like a kind of a reckless element to how I grew up so I identify that as well. It’s just funny to see people finding their way in dealing with anger and love and laughing and crying and it just felt very dynamic to me.”
As Late Bloomers prepares to go into pre-production, Gorman is also working as the writer on a Syrian-War Drama, Broadcast, with Grant Cramer attached to direct. With Broadcast, Gorman wanted to stay away from vilifying another country, a constant thread she found ran deep in American films and their storytelling. We have more in common with one another and Gorman wanted that reflected in the final cut. “It almost feels like a separate world. Specifically with American cinema, we’ve tended to create this divide with the Middle East and a lot of times like to villainize them. I would watch these documentaries, and found there are more similarities than dissimilarities. I wanted to really explore what brings it together to make it feel more at home. I wanted to bring the script to people that may not speak the same language, but [when watching] feel this person reminds me of my best friend. They dress the same way, they listen to the same music and yet there are cultural differences.”
One difference for everyone that doesn’t care what culture you are a part of is Covid. The worldwide pandemic of 2020, still raging around the globe, spared no expense at disrupt-ing lives, making everyone readjust to a new norm. People were thrust into a self-reflection and for Gorman, that comes with battling depression and anxiety. “As horrible as Covid has been for a lot of people, I think there was also a great opportunity that forced people to stop and reevaluate. And as far as the depression stuff, my experience with that is tough personally and when I am in a really depressive space it’s hard for me not to feel like everything is out of my control. Like I can’t do anything about this. I’m waking up apathetic or sad and like what am I supposed to do? Or the situation is just shitty, I don’t know how to make it better. And you’re kind of just vacant.”
During quarantine, Gorman forced herself to use this time to change her perspective on things and it has been extremely helpful for her. Exercise, meditation, hydrate, sleep. “Covid for me was a big wake up call. I don’t need to be doing anything, it’s my choice. It may feel like my back is up against the wall, if I’m unhappy, I am capable of changing. We’re all more powerful than we think we are. It’s usually like mental gymnastics we have to do to convince ourselves and I think the hardest part of getting out of depression is feeling like lying to yourself at first. Like I’m telling myself, ‘I’m confident and I am feeling good and things are looking better’ even though I don’t feel it. And then it really is the consistency that snaps you out of it.”
One way Gorman snaps out of it is by volunteering. She just started working with Water Drop LA, a volunteer-run community organization whose goal is to provide clean water and other necessities to communities facing water inaccessibility. They distribute 2,000+ gallons of water to LA’s Skid Row each week as well as providing water to partner organizations across Southern California. Gorman is fascinated that a group of USC students thought up the organization whale sitting in class. “How cool is that that you’re in a class that’s making you ask questions and then putting action behind it. That’s really beautiful and it’s crazy.”
...I don’t think there’s a categorization of anything. I think that everything is a spectrum...