TORONTO – Actress Maria Bello says she’s developing a movie about late transgender AIDS activist Marsha P. Johnson.
Bello writes about Johnson in her new book, “Whatever … Love is Love,” noting she admired Johnson and was horrified when she spotted her body floating in the Hudson River in 1992. Police ruled the death a suicide but in 2012 re-opened the case as a possible homicide.
Bello tells The Canadian Press she’s now developing a film on Johnson through Ground Seven Entertainment, a new production company she runs with romantic partner Clare Munn.
“We’re finding all sorts of partnerships, people who loved or have been fascinated with Marsha P,” she says in a telephone interview.
Bello says Ground Seven has about 14 projects in development, both film and TV, as it aims to represent “diverse voices from seven continents.”
“It’s really about the hero and heroine story that you wouldn’t expect to be heroes and heroines.”
She adds: “This is a big part of the ‘whateverness.’ These are stories of ‘whatevers.'”
“Whatever” is also the theme of Bello’s book, a collection of personal essays on her life and the labels we put on relationships and sexuality.
The two-time Golden Globe nominee says she considers herself a “W” or a “whatever,” not a specific label like “bisexual” or “lesbian.” Some media outlets put those labels on her when she wrote in the New York Times in 2013 that she’d fallen in love with a woman.
“The point of the article wasn’t about my sexuality,” she says.
“The point of the article was about these labels of partnership and family and sexuality and how my family and myself don’t fit into those tiny little boxes.”
Bello says she came “out as a human being … as someone who supports human rights.”
But she adds: “You can call me anything you want if it pushes the needle for human rights, to be honest.”
Bello wrote the article after falling ill with parasites from her humanitarian travels to Haiti two years ago.
While in hospital recovering, she looked around at her family and realized she wanted to celebrate them and who they were.
Bello was also inspired by her then 12-year-old son, Jackson, when he reacted to news of her relationship to Munn by saying, “Whatever, love is love.”
She says she then wrote the book in the hope that readers would “question their own labels that they give themselves that might empower them or disempower them.”
The Pennsylvania native writes about her spiritual beliefs, her humanitarian work, her relationships and those who’ve inspired her.
She also writes on her mother, who’s been battling cancer for many years, and her father, who turned to alcohol to dull the pain from an on-the-job injury.
Bello reveals both she and her dad have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“The hardest part of the book to write was about my family, specifically my father,” she says.
“I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in any way, because he’s such an extraordinary man who had been through so much and came out the other end.
“He was one of the first ones who read the book and gave his blessing.”
Bello says the book recently inspired her 17-year-old cousin to reveal she’s transgender and gender fluid.
The book also has Bello itching to write more.
“I have written a TV series, which is in development,” she says.
“It’s like a modern-day ‘MASH,’ and I will be writing another book.”