Category: Madam Secretary
Again so sorry for the delay.
Sara Ramirez made her debut as Kat Sandoval on CBS’s political drama Madam Secretary back in November, and butch women everywhere sparked with recognition at the reflection of themselves. Kat wears a suit and tie, rocks a pocket chain, and sports a gloriously dapper haircut. Over the last four months, Kat Sandoval has been a consistent presence as Elizabeth’s policy advisor while maintaining her confident, soft butch vibe, but her sexuality had never been explicitly discussed until just recently.
Even within the representation of gay women we get to see on screen, the words “bisexual” and “lesbian” are rarely straightforwardly uttered. Often, coming out story arcs simply include the revelation that a character has fallen in love with a woman after having been exclusively depicted in heterosexual relationships up until that point.
As viewers, we’re often left to make assumptions about the label, if there is one, or we’re forced simply to wait and see who else the character ties herself to in the future. During shows like CW’s The 100, characters like Clarke are just portrayed to be beyond labels as part of a culture where sexuality is anything but taboo and full of restrictions and gender boundaries.
When Kat Sandoval graced our screens, I resigned to the fact that her gayness might be something that’s seen and not really heard. After all, it’s a political drama that focuses on the Secretary of State and international affairs, rarely pausing to delve too deeply into the personal lives outside of Elizabeth and her family. Color me pleasantly surprised, no actually, completely shell shocked and sobbing, to watch Kat sit across from Jay and utter the word “bisexual” to describe herself.
The big, gay episode of Madame Secretary, entitled “Refuge”, comes in hot right out of the gates as it opens with a nightclub raid in Abkhazia. This raid is the fifth reported one in a month, the target of which is to flush out the country’s LGBTQ population, as being gay has just recently been legalized in the country. When the president of Abkhazia is confronted by Secretary McCord, he looks her dead in the eye and proclaims that Abkhazia has no LGBTQ citizens.
As this news breaks, Kat, along with everyone else, is seething with both anger and panic over their lack of immediate options when it comes to getting these refugees someplace safe. She and Jay Whitman, the Chief of Staff, chow down on some Chinese food in the office while waiting for the next step. Over the nosh session, Kat mentions her young daughter Desi, which prompts a question from Jay as to whether she’s on the whole parenting journey alone.
When Kat responds that she co-parents with a man, Jay is visibly surprised, admitting that he assumed the Abkhazia situation was “personal”, meaning she had to be a lesbian in order for that to be the case. In that moment, you can see the tiny glint in Sara Ramirez’s eye because of what she’s about to do. The out bisexual actress came out personally after her Grey’s Anatomy character did, and now she gets to do it again in a skin that she feels much more authentic in.
Kat manages to proclaim both casually and adamantly that she’s bisexual, even furthermore, that she’s fine with “pansexual, fluid, or non-monosexual”. Either way you spin it, she’s comfortable with all of the labels that encompass the fact that she digs folks of all genders. Mic drop. She also describes herself as “queer”, which is rarely spoken on screen. Queer is not a label everyone wants, and it’s not an identifier everyone should be forced to have. The most important and impactful aspect of this entire scene is the character’s ownership. She ticks off the labels she prefers and is okay with, which is something we should all be encouraged to do. We are exactly who and what we say we are, nothing more, nothing less.
Jay goes on to mention that the last time he saw her a few years ago, she looked quite a bit different. Kat chuckles and nods, confirming that she used to walk the halls in heels, dresses, and long hair. She explained that she had looked a certain way in order to “survive and gain access”. When he asks her what changed she says, “I survived and gained access”. Isn’t that the truth for so many of us? We hesitate to be our authentic selves, particularly when doing so has the potential to put us at risk, to give us less than a fair shake because we go against the grain.
The most poignant part of Kat’s answers to these questions revolves around her take on motherhood. She mentions that since having her daughter, she can’t imagine setting an example for her where she presents herself as anyone other than who she really is. As a stepmom, this is where she sucker punch hit right in the heart.
I want my stepdaughter to wear a dress when she feels like wearing a dress, or shop in the boys’ section at the store if she likes the way those shirts fit better. I want her to understand pink isn’t just for girls and Hot Wheels aren’t just for boys, and how can I expect her to believe me if I’m not showing her? And how will she believe me if she doesn’t see anyone else confidently defying those defined lines that have been drawn between feminine and masculine, between straight and gay.
So thank you Madam Secretary, for giving us a character who not only walks the walk, but talks the talk, and taking the time to let her pause and speak her truth. Thank you Sara Ramirez, for bringing yourself to Kat Sandoval, and for claiming her bisexual identity, your drive to “survive and gain access”, and her motherhood on screen. You’re changing lives on a weekly basis, mine included.
I finally got around to make clips from this huge episode, where Sara is featured half the episode. So sorry for the delay.
Sunday’s episode of Madam Secretary will get personal for Kat Sandoval.
In the episode, Kat — played by former Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez — opens up to Jay Whitman (Sebastian Arcelus) about co-parenting her child and why she was personally affected by a recent incident involving LGBTQ refugees overseas. EW has an exclusive clip from the episode featuring Kat talking about her sexuality and why her style has changed her the years to better reflect her gender identity and expression.
In an interview with EW before she joined the political show in November, Ramirez said she hoped her character would “continue normalizing, strengthening, and celebrating these types of inclusive outcomes in the world. As far as the character is concerned, I’m still getting to know her, but so far she’s different in that she spent a good portion of her life in politics before stepping away from it. Kat is very intentional and clear in her approach, because she knows she’s capable. She’s outspoken and unapologetically herself.”
Ramirez also talked about her life after leaving Grey’s Anatomy and how the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting impacted her personally. “This past year and a half has taught me how to embrace myself fully, to never ever be afraid to claim my truth and power in spaces, and that bisexual, pansexual, queer-identified women of color, of all genders, or no genders, deserve to exist fully and equally in any and every space with respect to our visibility, representation, dignity, and various intersecting identities,” she said.
Madam Secretary airs at 10 p.m. Sundays on CBS.
Source: Entertaintment Weekly
This Sunday’s Madam Secretary (CBS, 10/9c) focuses on the plight of a group of foreign lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer refugees seeking asylum — a storyline dear to both the political drama’s hotshot strategist Kat Sandoval and the actress who plays her.
“Originally, some of the producers shared with me that an international LGBTQI storyline was coming down the pipeline, and they expressed interest in my being a part of that conversation,” says Sara Ramirez, who identifies as queer and bisexual and who has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ issues, as well as for marginalized communities. Series star Téa Leoni “was really supportive around me participating, as well, which I really appreciate,” she adds.
Ramirez tells TVLine that she met with Jessica Stern, executive director at OutRight Action International, a LGBTQ human-rights watchdog group. “I was given the show’s blessing to come in and go over some of the plot points,” she says, calling the conversation “really productive.” “We wanted to make sure we’re responsible and accurate, and we don’t want to put anyone in danger more so than they already are.”
For example: The script originally had the human-rights abuses happening in one country, but based on OutRight’s input, the Madam Secretary writers swapped in another nation.
“Having someone like Sara… being so connected to these issues was one of the reasons that we were able to pivot our storyline,” says executive producer Lori McCreary, explaining that the organization said, “‘Look, normally it’s really great to shine a spotlight on these issues. In this particular case at this particular time, the end will probably be much worse for us, and you’ll be doing the opposite of what your intention is on this episode.’”
After sharing OutRight’s feedback with the writers’ room (“We had a table read, and then we were giving notes after on the episode, and I was invited to stick around, which I’ve never been invited to before,” Ramirez says gleefully. “It’s fun!”), Ramirez also weighed in on some of Kat’s scenes “and her personal disclosures,” the actress adds. (For more on that, make sure to read TVLine’s post mortem interview about the episode, posting Sunday at 11 pm ET.)
During the episode, titled “Refuge,” Kat and Jay work together to assist persecuted LGBTQ citizens escape their country while their American Homeland Security applications are processed. When a giant, literal roadblock arises — the country closes its borders — they’re forced to improvise.
“In this episode, we are learning about some of the things that happen behind closed doors that not everybody talks about, [such as] governmental work in conjunction with NGOs that are doing similar work,” Ramirez previews.
“How do you work together? is what we really explore in this episode, and where it can go wrong and where it can succeed,” she says. “We kind of take folks on a roller coaster ride.”
Source: TV Line