Every generation has national and global issues by which it’s shaped, but even the most well-adjusted Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials would likely agree that as difficult as it is being an adult right now, they’re grateful to no longer be a teenager. Hormones – and even COVID-19 pandemic aside – today’s teens are tackling questions of racial, gender, and sexual identity, in some ways, much younger and more publicly than generations before. And while progressive attitudes have allowed for identities to exist on a much wider spectrum, there’s also pressure to have everything figured out, and like everyone else, find a tribe with whom you can be your true self.
It’s a reality that gets explored in The L Word: Generation Q, the sequel to Showtime’s groundbreaking 2004 series The L Word. It’s also one actress Jordan Hull, who plays Angie Porter-Kennard, relates to both on screen and off.
“I relate to Angie in a lot of ways,” the show’s youngest cast member tells ESSENCE. “It’s really weird to be a young person right now. There’s a lot on our plates. And so I think the show does a good job of exploring generation Q, this new generation of queer people and a queer person of color through Angie.”
Hull was promoted to series regular for season 2 of the drama which returns Sunday night. It’s a big deal considering it’s Hull’s first role and she actually contemplated quitting just before landing the gig.
“I was trying and I loved it, but I was missing out on high school and it was right about the time where I was going to start looking into colleges,” Hull says of the period before booking the part of Angie. “There was nothing promising and then I got it, which was awesome.”
The fact that Hull never aspired to be on television makes that story even sweeter. “I actually fell into acting,” she explains. “I wasn’t in theater, I didn’t do anything. I randomly met an agent at a mall and they said, ‘You should model and act.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’”
Hull’s parents had a similar response, though she clarifies, “It wasn’t a thing of like, ‘Okay, we’re going to move to California.’ That was after I started to get better and actually learn how to act, and then fell in love with it. But they were always there. They’re so supportive.”
Hull, who is Black, and identifies as such, was adopted and raised in Iowa by white parents. She lived there until the age of 13, moving to Los Angeles in 2016 to seriously pursue acting. The change in environment was a culture shock for Hull in a number of ways.
“When I came out to California, I went to a very diverse middle school for a year and I got called an Oreo because I look Black but I talk different and I don’t have that experience. And so it’s taken a while to feel—and I still don’t fully feel— comfortable in my Blackness, which I want to strive towards,” she shares. “When I was younger being in a room around a bunch of Black people was so different to me and I felt like such an outsider, but I feel like I’m catching up in a lot of ways.”
An unfortunate aspect of catching up is realizing racial prejudices that were directed toward her at a young age — like being called a monkey on Snapchat — and matters of race that her parents weren’t quite equipped to handle.
“I didn’t deal with necessarily a systemic racial injustice because my family was white and affluent, and in suburban culture,” Hull points out. “But I did experience prejudice that I wasn’t even able to name. My parents would always say, ‘We love you despite your color,’ which is definitely a microaggression that you don’t realize. I think the basis of it was love, but there was miscommunication and misunderstanding.”
In a sense it’s almost kismet that Hull has found herself working on The L Word: Generation Q alongside Jennifer Beales, who plays her mother, Bette Porter. Beales, whose father was African-American and mother Irish-American, received praise for insisting her character be biracial when she first took on the part in 2004, bringing more visibility to the issues that affect queer women of mixed race. The Flashdance icon has also talked about feeling “othered” due to her fair skin and European features. Working with Beales and learning the ropes from her has been “amazing” says Hull, who recently landed her first movie role opposite Queen Latifah and Adam Sandler in the upcoming Netflix flick Hustle.
“I feel so privileged and honored to be around her,” Hull says. “It’s amazing. Since this was my first gig, she really took me under her wing and told me things. She helped me in so many ways and I’m forever grateful for her.”
Season 2 of The L Word: Generation Q debuts Sunday, August 8 at 10 pm on Showtime.