Writer/Actor Angela Gulner on ‘BINGE’ and Turning Your Life into Art
In the last couple years, a wealth of funny, super-raw, lady-driven comedies have emerged, from Broad City to Insecure. As someone who just purchased a Strong Female Lead sweatshirt, I find this incredibly inspiring. I also find myself wondering, what the hell took so long? Let’s get 20 more shows like this on TV, stat!
Enter: BINGE, the brainchild of actress/many-hat-wearer Angela Gulner. My podcast co-host Scotty connected me with her a few months ago, as the two are old friends. She sent me the pilot of the show she is producing/writing/starring in and I was amazed. The quality is beautiful, the comedy is whip-smart and the subject matter is relevant and underserved. Eating disorders are so often given the after school special treatment, instead of being approached with firsthand understanding. This uniqueness will make BINGE ring true to many of us ladies who grew up in the peak era of body insecurity, dysmorphia, dieting and eating disorders.
This week, Angela is promoting a prequel to the BINGE series, called THE BLIND GIRL. Check it out below. Then, read up on my interview with Angela, where we talk about turning your life story into art.
1. How did you decide to turn your struggle with an eating disorder into a story?
BINGE was kind of a perfect storm of both hitting rock bottom with my eating disorder, and hitting rock bottom with my relationship to being an (unemployed) actor in LA. I checked myself into treatment after being in LA for about 3 years, with maybe 1 or 2 “real” auditions during that entire time.
I didn’t have representation, and I couldn’t get into the rooms for the shows I loved so much. I was frustrated and angry and beat down creatively—and I was spiraling out of control with my eating disorder.
After taking four months to focus on recovery, I felt renewed, physically and emotionally, and was ready to do the same in my creative life. I wanted to empower myself to be creative on my own time, without waiting on a call from Hollywood. (Hollywood never calls, spoiler alert.)
I wanted to see more interesting, complex depictions of women in media, so it was kind of a wonderful, obvious, perfect storm. I started writing BINGE with Yuri Baranovsky just a few months after leaving treatment—and it was both cathartic for me as I recovered, and it reignited my passion for filmmaking and acting. It was super pivotal for me in so many ways.
2. Did you have any initial walls up that you had to tear down in order to tell a story that would resonate?
Ooof, well, I feel like I’m still hitting walls! This script is tricky because people who read it really, really love it, but it’s hard to get anyone to pull the trigger on wanting to make it— and this is true of any script in this industry—because there are SO MANY. And this is the first script I’ve written, and I’m still at the very start of my career, so getting it to the “right” people, and then having those people want to take a chance on me is tricky.
That’s why we ended up making it ourselves. People loved the script, and we knew how we wanted to shoot it, so instead of waiting, we just went and did it! And the reception has been great. But getting it made—with real money—is still tricky. Every network and studio has their own “brand” and their own type of content they want to make. I think there is a fear that the ED angle is to narrow, or too risky, but we’re determined.
We found our audience, and we’re determined to find a way to make more, even if it means continuing to make it ourselves. There is a large, fairly untapped audience for this material—we know that, and we’re determined to find a way to show it to the industry.
3. What’s your advice for people who may want to turn their own struggle into a book, movie or TV show?
Go for it. Try. Fail. Do whatever you can. Don’t be afraid of the darkness and the ickiness. If you feel like you should go there, go there! But always make sure you’re putting your recovery first. Stay in therapy. Go to your meetings. Be honest with yourself about what is safe to explore and what is triggering for you. But man, art can heal. Making this show has been the BEST thing I’ve ever done for my health because now I’m accountable to so SO MANY PEOPLE. My recovery isn’t just for me; it’s for my art! It’s for the people who love BINGE and look up to it and are touched by it. But do it! Do it today.
4. How is your process of publicizing your project going? What are your hopes with THE BLIND GIRL as a way to further its impact?
As far as publicity, it was trial by fire for me. I’ve never done it before, and took the majority of it on myself for the pilot release. It was a lot of work, but it was also one of the most heartening experiences, because people (like YOU!) responded. And positively! And were eager to help—and it was incredible.
The election was going on, there was a lot of stress and anxiety in the air, and I think the sensitive subject matter really resonated with people. I was so uplifted by the responses from different online publications—it was really moving. We had a bunch of wonderful write-ups, and they have really strengthened our pitch. I am so, so grateful. People are good! Hahah that’s cheesy, but it’s how I feel after this experience.
With THE BLIND GIRL, we are hoping to use the anxiety and high emotional stakes of Valentine’s day to draw more viewership to the project—and we also just wanted to make a bit of a love letter to our amazing, amazing audience. Of course, we hope it gets in front of more “industry” eyes … and we really want to sell it!
So if anyone works in TV or has a rich aunt, or is just flush with cash and wants to support us, we are actively looking for partners to make a full season!
👇👇 Pick this show up, HBO maybe? 👇👇
5. Do you have any words of wisdom for people who are going through eating disorders during Valentine’s day week?
Be gentle. Be so, so gentle with yourself. Sleep. Buy yourself a nice comfy robe. Splurge and get a massage. Find a dog to snuggle. See your therapist (find a therapist). Have a sleepover with your favorite girlfriends. Watch your favorite movies. And let yourself feel your feelings! They are important and temporary. You and your experiences are valid and real. Honor them, feel them, and then move past them.