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Entertainment

Lovi, Janine’s Sleep With Me takes a look at LGBTQ, PWD issues

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Lovi, Janineâs Sleep With Me takes a look at LGBTQ, PWD issues
Lovi Poe and Janine Gutierrez praise each other’s acting in Samantha Lee’s Sleep with Me. Though they are under the same talent manager, it’s their first time working together in the film.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DREAMSCAPE ENTERTAINMENT

Lovi Poe and Janine Gutierrez are “happy and grateful” after bagging the Audience Award for Best Episodic at the 40th Outfest LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Los Angeles last month for iWantTFC’s newest original offering, Sleep with Me.

Sleep with Me is a queer female love story, directed by Samantha Lee, who previously helmed Baka Bukas (2016) and Billie and Emma (2018).

According to the media release, the series revolves around Harry (Janine), a wheelchair-bound, late-night radio disc jockey (DJ), who gives relationship advice, and Luna (Lovi), a girl who suffers from a sleep disorder.

Lovi and Janine with direk Sam during a media conferenc

Aside from the tender love story between the two female leads, the narrative will also shed light on the social injustices experienced by those who are not able-bodied, heteronormative individuals.

Lovi and Janine were offered a project before with direk Sam years ago, but missed the chance due to prior commitments. So, when the opportunity came again, they didn’t hesitate to say yes to direk Sam.

“Aside from the story (that) is so unique and ang ganda ng script, ang ganda nung team, (that’s why we accepted the project),” Janine told The STAR in a recent exclusive in-person interview. “It’s such a bonus that Sam is part of the LGBTQ community. She champions it talaga. She knows what she’s talking about.”

The poster for Sleep With Me, winner of the Audience Award for Best Episodic at the 40th Outfest LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Los Angeles, US.

“I think it goes to show that this is something that we would like to normalize,” Lovi said. “The fact that we get to portray these kinds of characters. Parang it’s not meant to be a question anymore because it’s something that… it’s hard to find a word because it’s not even the word ‘accept’ because we’re all just the same.”

She emphasized that, “Everyone is equal and we should remember that. I think it’s one of the things na tina-tackle ng Sleep with Me. Equality. Not just because of gender but because of opportunities, ‘disabilities’ naming dalawa sa series.”

Janine, on the other hand, said that “as actors, we’re just bridges between the story and the audience.” But she hoped that the series will “contribute to (the) visibility and diversity and stories that we watch and that shows that we consume.”

“I hope it also encourages LGBTQ actors and persons with disabilities (PWDs) who may be interested in acting or joining showbiz na, there is space for you. Maybe one day, stories like these will be played by actual LGBTQ actors, actual PWDs so that (they’ll feel that) there is actually equality that happens,” she added.

Are they open to the possibility of entering into a queer kind of relationship in real life? Lovi’s response was, “I’m in a relationship kasi now kaya hindi ko siya ma-imagine because I’m happy. I don’t know. It could be… Gender is fluid naman eh.”

Janine agreed, “Especially after doing Sleep with Me and seeing the relationship that Harry and Luna had, if ever you had the opportunity for love, I think for any…”

Lovi finished the sentence with, “It has nothing to do with gender anymore.”

Meanwhile, the undeniable chemistry of the two actors is evident as seen in the trailer of the series.

Lovi confessed she’d usually drink when filming intimate scenes and she did the same in Sleep with Me. “It makes me feel more relaxed. I do drink before doing a love scene.”

A “super shy” Lovi revealed, “So when I start doing all these things, yung parang, undressing palang is already… it makes me feel uncomfortable, in general.” But what makes it different from the rest is, “We are all girls inside the room and so it made me feel comfortable and everyone was just so relaxed. Si (direk) Sam kasi ginuide niya kami talaga ng maayos and the shots were beautiful. Hindi siya parang sensual kind of love scene. It was like realistic in such a way na parang may awkward moments, may funny moments. They were laughing at the same time, so it’s cute. Cute siya, hindi sya yung parang the usual, you know.”

As for Janine, she really got into her character and “doing it with the knowledge of kung ano yung pinanggagalingan namin.”

The breakup scene was what Lovi considered challenging because Luna, her character, “is the type of person (who) pushes people away when she starts feeling certain emotions, when she gets into that emotion. So parang challenging for me because I feel like Luna got a good one. She has someone like Harry but she’s pushing her away.”

As Lovi, “It’s like, ‘Why are you doing this?’” said she. “Kasi parang ang bait-bait ni Harry, she makes you happy and she adds like this life sa buhay mo and then you’re letting her go because of her insecurities. It was self-sabotage.”

Janine, for her part, had to practice and consult her radio DJ friends to polish up her role. She shared, “I sent them the script, ‘Can you read this for me?’ and send it back. So pinapakinggan ko yung mga voice notes. But what they emphasized on is now, yung mga DJs, it’s more like yung mga personality. Hindi mo na kailangan ng malalim or sobrang gandang boses. Parang it’s really about your connection. So that’s also something na tin-ry ko lang gawing convincing as a DJ.”

This was be the first time that the two Kapamilya stars collaborated together in a series and they commended each other’s acting chops.

Lovi described her co-star as “very open and very giving as an actor,” while Janine had no idea at first how shy and introverted the former was until Sleep with Me.

“Siyempre, when you see Lovi, di ba, confidence, power, Bench body, ganyan,” said Janine.

After the taping, she got to know Lovi more. “She really enjoys her alone time, and reading and things like that so parang, Oh my gosh, it became like all the more interesting na ang galing ni Lovi. She’s mahiyan din pala. I love Lovi.”

Lovi answered back, “Love you, Janine” and further called Janine “a ray of light and sunshine.” Much like her character in the series, Janine is “like Harry who brings joy to Luna” on set.

If there’s one person they would playfully utter “sleep with me” to, it would be Harry Styles for Janine and Ryan Gosling for Lovi.

(Stream all six episodes of Sleep with Me on Aug. 15 for free on iWantTFC app (iOs and Android) and website iwanttfc.com).

LOVI POE

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