Film hits California film festival circuit today, exposes challenges, depths, highs and lows of the star's coming out process
By now, Chely Wright's coming out story is old news to most of us; however, a new film -- that hits the film festival circuit starting tonight in Los Angeles -- is about to blow the lid off of what you thought you knew about her journey through her very public coming out.
It was two full years before Wright graced Oprah's couch in the spring of 2010, that she made the initial decision to come out in such a public way. She realized that if she was going to make a difference, she needed to do it with a defined purpose and complete abandon.
But having lived in the closet for almost 20 years, she had little to no knowledge or understanding of what lie in store, let alone a community she was now acknowledging herself a part of. If she was going to make a difference with her coming out, she had to get busy.
She assembled a team of close confidants and associates, packed up her personal belongings in Nashville and moved to New York City. Her plan? Immerse herself into the LGBT community; learn as much as she possibly could about its history, legal battles, non-profits, culture and leadership.
Basically, she embarked upon a crash-course in everything LGBT.
If she was going to be a public face of the LGBT community, she wanted to know what she was talking about. To be a champion for a cause, she needed to understand those she was trying to be a champion for.
This immersion was not without its ups and downs, or trials and triumphs.
"Wish Me Away," the new, feature-length documentary by award-winning filmmakers Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi, chronicles this period of Wrights life in great detail, blemishes and all.
Wright knew that her decision to come out may not only ruin her career in Nashville, but also put an end to her beloved performances for troops around the world and have a severe impact on her fan base; however, living her life authentically finally had to come first.
She also wanted to be there for the thousands of other young Americans who also believe they are "damaged goods."
But when you are a high profile person, how do you go about sharing your truth publicly with your family, your friends and the world? How do you get dozens of people involved in a carefully manifested process to keep the secret just a little longer?
Nothing was as easy as it seemed and Wish Me Away documents the darker side of Wright's personal quest for a very public acceptance.
Although this documentary is an honest and bird's-eye-view into Wright's own, very personal journey, it is not her film. The film belongs to co-directors and co-producers, Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi.
Industry stalwarts in each of their own rights for decades, Kopf and Birleffi became business partners in 2000 when they launched their media production company, TVgals. Since then, they've produced dozens of award-winning short films, tv segments and feature length documentaries.
Wright gave Kopf and Birleffi unprecedented access to her day-to-day life and activities for those two years, as she prepared herself and set the stage for her public future as the first out lesbian country singer.
Named after a very poignant song on her recent CD, "Lifted Off the Ground," the film Wish Me Away will show viewers the various challenges Wright experienced behind the scenes during this period, proving it was much more difficult than even the biggest fan ever imagined.
In the process of coming out and of filming the documentary, Chely faces a series of set backs and obstacles. A raw and moving portrait with an unfolding story culminating in an extraordinary event, Wish Me Away unveils a new side to the artist, one that is at times vulnerable, scared, angry and despondent, but ultimately hopeful and liberated.
California Film Festival Circuit
Tonight, June 20th, Wish Me Away will make its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It will then move to The Castro in San Francisco for the Frameline (LGBT) Film Festival on Wednesday, June 22th, before returning to the LA Film Festival on Thursday and Friday, June 24 & 25th.
On June 26th it will then make its appearance at the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film and video festival, near Chely's home town.
Wright, Kopf and Birleffi will be attending the LA Film Festival premiere, as well as the showing in San Francisco, where they will offer a Q&A afterwards. The LA premiere is sold out, but there are still tickets for the remaining shows.
Learn more about the film HERE.
Preview the trailer for Wish Me Away: