Samantha Ressler and Nathalie Love On Departing the Year 2020, Together

Samantha Ressler and Nathalie Love On Departing the Year 2020, Together

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Samantha Ressler and Nathalie Love On Departing the Year 2020, Together

Bring in the New Year with "We The Women" co-founders and their new comedy special, "Yearly Departed" — premiering on Amazon Prime today.

Bring in the New Year with "We The Women" co-founders and their new comedy special, "Yearly Departed" — premiering on Amazon Prime today.

Photography: Chloe Horseman

Text: Hailee Milton

We The Women co-founders Samantha Ressler and Nathalie Love are best friends who became business partners.  

Their beautiful friendship, “A total accident,” as Love described to VMagazine.

“We connected with each other after both moving back to our hometown of Los Angeles from acting school on the east coast,” she tried to explain. 

They were both destined for a life on the stage. But, at the time, the fresh-out-of-school graduates experienced the same trouble behind-the-scenes; scripts lacked luster, and the audition process… frustrating, to say the least. With extra downtime between gigs, the actresses deepened their conversation, found commonalities, and cast out a new purpose. Making space for their voices to be heard during the 2016 political landscape, Women’s marches, and as Planned Parenthood was on the verge of funding loss.

Finding a niche to amplify female-identifying talent in all theater, film, and television, the production company We The Women was born. Now, nearing their 4 year anniversary, Ressler joked, “…our partnership is like a marriage… And so far, we still like each other. “

But —all jokes aside— the strength of their relationship and love for theater was seriously put to the test. For better or worse, the creatives committed to one another’s visions and goals while navigating the traumatic events of 2020. 

Therefore, it’s with excitement, we celebrate their new project, Yearly Departedreleased on Amazon Prime today. The 1-hour comedy special hosted by Phoebe Robinson stars Rachel Brosnahan, Tiffany Haddish, Patti Harrison, Natasha Leggero, Sarah Silverman, Natasha Rothwell, and ZiweYearly Departed serves as a funeral for 2020, where the funniest women in comedy have the last word on a year we all would like to put behind us. 

Ahead of the big premeire, talked to the women behind it all. Executive producers of Yearly Departed and co-founders of We The Women, Samantha Ressler and Nathalie Love on departing the year 2020, together and what’s in store for 2021: 

VMagazine Please tell us about ‘We The Women’ and how you two, as best friends, became business partners?

Samantha Ressler We The Women started as a non-profit theater company that staffs women in leadership positions and focuses on a pop-up performance model. The pandemic changed things as live theater is no longer an option, and we’ve pivoted to make our content available online. As the company evolved, we have been really excited about finding a way to merge theater and film content so that plays are accessible in the same way as digital content.

Nathalie & I were both living in LA and had worked on a few projects together, where we had a LOT of downtime as actors… Once we started to talk, we realized how much we had in common and started to brainstorm projects together. Our first collaboration was actually a digital series for Conde Nast Entertainment… During that process of staffing up our team and casting, we realized the wealth in resources we had with amazing talent. After that show, we decided we wanted to put on a play together after the 2016 election to benefit Planned Parenthood. We never looked back. We still pinch ourselves that we get to do this every day.

Wanting to be a part of the sociopolitical conversation is what started We The Women. So, how are you guys feeling? Finally able to breathe after the intense week-long presidential election?

Nathalie Love I would say I am feeling more hopeful, but it has been a very difficult time, to be honest. It has been a traumatic year—a heavy four years. We are in the second wave of a devastating pandemic that has rocked America’s foundation and opened so many uncomfortable truths about our culture. We still have to get through so much, and so much work still to be done. The amount of insanity that has occurred…I’m looking forward to a new year and feeling more positive but still holding my breath.

V Since a big part of your company is curating live pop-up theatrical experiences, how has the virtual space transition been?

SR Oddly natural. Everything has happened very organically. Yearly Departed will be our very first show for TV, which is both shocking and exciting. We The Women hosted “A Wake” annually for the year, and of course, everyone draws upon their past experiences for new projects. We were very proud of what we did on “The Wake but excited for everyone to see the creativity of all the women who came together to create Yearly Departed. We have the smartest and funniest women in front of and behind the camera to give 2020 the sendoff it deserves.

V Your comedic special Yearly Departed, can’t wait! What can viewers expect when watching?

NL Cathartic laughter. This was our first tv gig as executive producers. We are so grateful for the incredible learning experience and so proud of the most amazing team of women who brought it to life, from our brilliant head writer Bess Kalb’s original pitch to Scrap Paper pictures’ passion for the project that brought it to Amazon. It’s been a wild ride. Not only is the talent in front of the camera female-led and by the funniest women, but we also have a strong female presence behind the scenes. We have a female director, DP, production designer, art director, costumers, post supervisor, editors, composer, an all-female writers room, and mostly female producers. I hope the viewers at home can feel the energy and collaboration that went into making this show and feel connected, albeit behind their individual Tv screens… To one another and laugh together about the insanity of this year.

V There is difficulty navigating the comedic landscape during 2020 with the political and racial tension. Why was it essential for you to help others laugh and end this year on a good note?

SR Laughter is medicine.

V Ultimately, what do you feel are your biggest responsibilities as producers and creative directors? How do you weed out which stories you want to share?

NL In 2020 our mission is more clear than ever. The year showed us that America is a collective of different experiences and so telling these stories is what’s most important right now.. As creatives and producers, it is a responsibility and honor to help lift up and share these unconventional female stories with the world.

Looking back at the growth since starting We The Women in 2017, what feelings arise?

NL It’s actually pretty amazing to look back and see what we’ve managed to do in such a short amount of time. I mean the saying “fake it till you make it”… There has been a lot of closing our eyes and taking each other’s hands and just jumping into the unknown… and it’s pretty wild how just saying yes, leaning into our team, trusting our instincts has to lead us to the right place every single time.

Your collective partners with local organizations that support women’s issues in the Los Angeles area. Have you been able to still help the LA community during the pandemic?

SR During quarantine, we commissioned 20 female-identifying artists worldwide for a Digital Wake & Rebirth series, raised over $20,000 for #BlackLivesMatter, bailout funds and anti-racist organizations supporting the empowerment of non-white Americans, and produced a commissioned digital theater anthology series of plays about the female experience in isolation written by seven female playwrights, Keep This Far Apart.

Can you share any details about upcoming projects ‘We The Women’ has lined up?

SR We’ve just wrapped our newest project, Keep This Far Apart,  a 7 part anthology series spearheaded by directors Whitney White & Tyne Rafaeli. We The Women commissioned 7 incredible playwrights to write short plays, and we’ve just finished shooting all 7 plays. This digital anthology series created by American theater’s rising stars will explore the unique crucible of this current moment in our country through a singularly female-identifying lens. STAY TUNED!!!

 

If you would like to donate to We The Women please click here. To watch the premiere of Yearly Departed, click here.

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