Sex / Life’s Sarah Shahi on Steamy Netflix Drama’s Female Look, Filming Sex Scenes With Female Directors

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Female sexuality and desire take center stage in the new Sex / Life drama, which premieres this Friday on Netflix.

Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Chicago Fire) stars as Billie, a wife and mother who, after getting tired of her boring suburban life, begins to journal and fantasize about her past sexual exploits with her ex. – boyfriend Brad (Adam Demos). Her whole life is turned upside down when her husband Cooper (Mike Vogel) reads these scorching entries, which then sets off a complicated love triangle after her ex finds his way back into his life.

Sarah Shahi, who shows both physically and emotionally in these eight episodes, admits she was nervous about taking on such a demanding role.

“It’s a very emotional role,” she told TVLine. “Honestly, I was a ball of nerves, between that and the amount of nude and sex scenes, and the raw emotional breakdown scenes. I was a God-fearing girl when we were doing this. I prayed a lot.

It helped that Shahi was surrounded by women like creator Stacy Rukeyser (UnREAL, Greek), who employed a team of female directors only to bring these explicit scenes to life under the female gaze. Additionally, four of the show’s six writers (which includes Rukeyser) were women. Shahi has also worked with intimacy coordinator Casey Hudecki, whose credits include The Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods, Ginny & Georgia, and Tiny Pretty Things.

“Having women behind the camera, and something that was so centered on a woman’s point of view, I don’t think I realized how awesome it was until after the fact, the security that comes from being able to speak to the women of these sexual scenes. I don’t know if I would have been as comfortable opening up that way if it was a man, ”Shahi explains. “A lot of times when we have very sexual shows or movies it’s always told through the male lens, but now we have something that’s the female perspective. “

In Sex / Life, the camera often lingers on the bodies of her male co-leaders longer than her own, which Shahi found refreshing. “It was about time,” she said. “In addition, it was important to show that women can occupy other positions. “

Margaret Odette, who plays Billie’s best friend Sasha, reveals that she also felt a strong sense of security and comfort while directing the series.

“After reserving the role, Stacy [Rukeyser] was like, ‘I’m a white girl from Connecticut. I’m not going to start pretending that I know what it’s like to walk around this planet as a black person, but I want to be a partner in making this character of Sasha present himself in an authentic and complete way. and complex in all the multitudes that most women have, ”she shares. “I’m so grateful that she issued the invitation to be an equal collaborator in this way, as it set the tone for all of my experience working on the project.”

Odette notes that the collaboration on set was “picked up by all departments,” including costumes, who worked with her to ensure Sasha wore only black designer clothes. “Everyone gave so much… in the way they worked with the actors,” she adds. “It was really like we were all in the same boat. We were a team.

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