HBO premiered its “The Lady and the Dale,” on Jan. 31, a four-part docuseries that depicts the life of Elizabeth Carmichael, a 1970’s transgender entrepreneur whose collaborative creation of the fuel-efficient three-wheeled vehicle, “The Dale,” caused controversy.
Carmichael would later be accused, convicted and serve time for fraud before her death in 2004.
‘“I think that telling this story is a lot more than Elizabeth Carmichael and her life choices, but a story that people can relate to regardless of gender, race, or status,” said Andre Gaines, executive producer for the series.
Gaines partnered with filmmakers and brother duo, Mark and Jay Duplass to produce the series. The partner’s collaboration was courtesy of the agency that represents all three.
He admitted that a few stories had to be cut out, but ultimately, he was proud of the work with the crew.
“As a black filmmaker and producer, I have an obligation to tell stories that are not only universal but to honor the heritage, and sometimes those stories have to be told that can be uncomfortable,” Gaines said. “Stories don’t have a color to them. They have a relatability or a cry that resonates with people. That has to be told and that’s one of the reasons I took on the project. It was to sell the relatability to the viewers.”
He also tied the importance of transgender rights amongst the black community.
“Transgendreds face numerous mental-health issues especially blacks. And add that in the face of violence and fear they face because of their choices, our communities are still coming up short with proper mental health care. Their rights shouldn’t be separated but inclusive due to the basis of humanity.”
Notable activists and pioneers in the LGBTQ community include Audre Lorde, Alvin Ailey, and James Baldwin have helped pave the way for humanistic inclusivity with passion and vigor regardless of gender.
“It’s the art that’s important for those leaders. If you choose to be reminded daily about the difference of a person, you won’t focus on their gifts and their contributions. Carmichael, despite the corruption, still had a gift planted inside of her as we all do,” Gaines said.