InspiHERed By: Tramaine Renee
InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each month ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER chatted with Tramaine Renee, creator of the highly anticipated web series Sunny Reign.
ELIXHER: Who is Tramaine Renee?
TRAMAINE: I’m a writer, director, producer, choreographer, artist, thinker, dreamer, mover, shaker, and all around creative being.
ELIXHER: What are your ultimate goals and aspirations?
TRAMAINE: My ultimate goal is to bring every idea, every visual, every melody in my head to life and share it with whoever cares to experience it.
ELIXHER: How long have you been making films and videos?
TRAMAINE: I’ve been professionally doing videography/editing for about 4 years now. Sunny Reign is my first film project. This is the project that introduces me into the world as Tramaine the Filmmaker.
ELIXHER: How did you get started?
TRAMAINE: It started out as just a hobby. I would film a lot of behind the scenes footage when I was dancing on tour. That soon turned into me shooting a lot of reels for my dancers and choreographer buddies, which then led to me doing Vlogs and music videos for artists. Since I didn’t go to film school, I spend a lot of time watching online tutorials and reading various filmmaking blogs learning film techniques, trends, and watching a lot of videos. I’m self-taught in pretty much everything I do.
ELIXHER: What was different about being in the director’s chair this time around?
TRAMAINE: Sometimes as a choreographer, you don’t have the final say (depending on the production) and you’re working with talent who may not be on a certain skill level so at times you’re stuck “dumbing” down your work. As the writer, director and producer, I have the final say and I don’t have to dumb down anything.
ELIXHER: Tell us about Sunny Reign.
TRAMAINE: The series follows Sunny as she reunites with her partner in crime, Rain, the ex who left her heartbroken. A year later, out the blue, Rain contacts Sunny and they meet up for lunch. After a brief catch up, Sunny asks Rain the real reason why she’s back. Rain comes clean by telling her that she’s found the perfect mark, DeMarcos, a man looking to get in on a high-stakes poker game. Seeing that Sunny is still skeptical, Rain sets Sunny up for a quick con to remind her of the adrenaline rush that comes from it all. The addiction begins.
ELIXHER: What inspired this project?
TRAMAINE: I had a love affair with a woman and the feelings that came from it pretty much inspired Sunny Reign. The relationship was very much fueled by adrenaline, money and lust. At the end of it all, I knew I had a pretty interesting story to tell.
ELIXHER: In one word, what is this new series about?
ELIXHER: What does the title mean?
TRAMAINE: The title is a play on words. Rain is Sunny’s addiction but Sunny is at a constant battle to gain control. So “Sunny Reign,” to me, reflects Sunny’s reign over her life.
ELIXHER: After the reading review articles on series like Between Women and Lovers and Friends, are expectations absurdly high for Sunny Reign?
TRAMAINE: I don’t know. I’m pretty sure for the fans that have been anticipating the premiere of this series, they’re probably like, “You’ve made us wait this long so this show better be the business.” But for myself, I don’t worry about anyone else’s expectations as long as I’m satisfied with my work in knowing that I put my life and heart into it. I’m not trying to do anything that I’ve seen done before.
ELIXHER: Why is Sunny Reign different from other lesbian web series?
TRAMAINE: It’s different for the simple fact that I don’t consider it a lesbian web series. It just so happens that the two lead characters are women who once had an intimate relationship. But the storyline and plot really has nothing to do with the fact that they are lesbians. It’s about getting money and hustling with an ex that half the time, you don’t know whether to fight her, sex her, or trust her. It’s not a stereotypical show. These characters are not defined by their sexuality. They don’t fit the stereotypes of lesbians. Everyone can relate to having that love/hate relationship whether you’re gay, straight, bi, whatever. Sunny Reign is unpredictable and that’s what sets it apart from other lesbian web series.
ELIXHER: When does the web series debut?
TRAMAINE: We’re planning for Sunny Reign to premiere in the summer of 2012.
ELIXHER: How can we help?
TRAMAINE: Allowing me to share with you all is more than enough help.
ELIXHER: Anything else you want to add?
TRAMAINE: Man, I wouldn’t know where I’m at if it wasn’t for my support team Gregore at Ochi Films, Rich Dorval, Davinchii, and Jainea. These people have each individually in their own ways inspired me to just do the darn thing. Of course to all of the fans and people who have showed their support whether from donating or volunteering time, thank you.
Interview by Ebony Dickens
Ebony Dickens is an Atlanta-based lesbian and graduate school student with aspirations of becoming an attorney. She loves staying on top of the latest news and enjoys a challenge.