Ellen Page plays Vanya Hargreeves on Netflix's The Umbrella Academy. In the second season of the show, which began streaming on July 31, the character falls in love for the first time with Marin Ireland's character, Sissy.
The LGBTQ+ storyline highlights some of the challenges queer people would have experienced in the 1960s, which is when the new season is based. The Canadian actress, who came out on her 27th birthday and is now married to choreographer and dancer Emma Portner, has spoken about the importance of playing a LGBTQ+ character and having that visibility on a hit TV show.
"We just really wanted to be mindful about how to be sensitive, how to show the joy and the beauty, and then the obvious obstacles at the time," the actress told The Advocate.
Marin said two of them and showrunner Steven Blackman talked about the "existing negative tropes" of the 1950s and 1960s, and hoped to rewrite them while also remaining authentic to the time period.
"What is the best way in which we can have these two characters feel changed and opened up in a whole new way and filled with extraordinary hope in terms of their individual lives and meaning a real sense of themselves?" Ellen asked.
"The storyline, for them as individuals – and, obviously, the relationship – is ultimately so hopeful. That's definitely what we were aiming towards."
Ellen previously told E! News about the joy of playing Vanya during this particular period of the character's journey.
"It was beautiful in many ways to play Vanya falling in love for the first time with a woman, and not in an awful, abusive relationship like she was in the first season, thank goodness," the 33-year-old said. "And then you want to take care of the storyline. You want to make sure you're showing the beauty and the love, and also reflecting the obstacles, of course."
The Halifax-born star said it was a wonderful season and she was glad she was part of the show.
"Always when you’re shooting something like that it’s beautiful," Ellen told Variety about Vanya and Sissy's storyline. "It’s beautiful to shoot a love story like that and it’s a love story that allows a woman in the '60s to not only go through an experience as a queer woman..."
"And it weighs heavy on your heart, too, because you know a lot of people are still in that situation, even though things are better and it’s not illegal here anymore.
"But in the beginning, it was just about creating this subtle, very, very palpable connection that you see start growing between them."
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