Hunter Lee Hughes is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Los Angeles, best known as a playwright and indie filmmaker whose work comes as an expression of LGBTQ-centric experience. He founded Fatelink in 2004 and StoryAtlas in 2013.
Originally from Houston, he graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio before moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of an acting career. He studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck in her master class for five years, and also spent five years as writer’s assistant to Mardik Martin (co-writer of Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” and “Raging Bull”) – which also amounted to a master class in screenwriting.
He says, “I came to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but at that time it was very difficult for openly gay actors to advance. So, I quickly realized I would need to start making my own work in order to have a creatively satisfying career – well, actually, to have a career, period!”
Pursuing that end, he created “Fate of the Monarchs,” a multi-media one-man show that premiered at Highways Performance Space in 2004 and went on to be a fully realized production in 2005 at NoHo Arts Center. It was chosen as a Critic’s Pick by BackStage West.
A second play, “The Sermons of John Bradley,” was workshopped in 2008, then presented in 2009, and was awarded Best Leading Actor in a Drama (Male) by StageSceneLA.com.
For the screen, he created the gay dark short film “Winner Takes All” in 2011, which starred Alec Mapa and went on to be acquired by Guest House Films for their Black Briefs collection; a year later, he directed the comedy narrative webseries “Dumbass Filmmakers!,” launched in 2012, which won four awards at L.A.WebFest, including Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.
His feature directorial debut, “Guys Reading Poems,” came into being after Hunter immersed himself in poetry books left to him by his late grandmother Kathleen. He committed to write and direct a movie with the hope of effectively combining visual poetry with narrative storytelling. The movie had its world premiere at the 21st annual Palm Beach International Film Festival, followed by screenings at Dances With Films and qFLIX Philadelphia. It won the Audience Award for Best Feature (Drama) at the 25th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, the “Creativity in Drama” award at Breckenridge Film Festival and “Best of Fest” at the South Texas Underground Film Festival. It was released across platforms by Gravitas Ventures on Feb. 20, 2018.
“I’ve always been better at dreaming than actually living,” he says, “so I guess I had no choice but to make movies.”
He is currently developing his second feature film, “Inside-Out, Outside-In.”
His newest play, “Nathaniel Quinn: Filmmaker,” focuses on the personal journey of its disillusioned title character, as narrated by the ghost of his dead best friend. It premieres August 31 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out at age 18, and like so many gay men, my father was the most difficult person to tell. Now, he’s one of the most supportive!
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Martina Navratilova. She was out before out was cool.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
I had a magical birthday party at the bar at Chateau Marmont one year, so I’ll go with that.
Describe your dream wedding.
55-60 guests in an Emerald Forest kind of theme.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Suicide prevention and treatment for depression. So many good artists are lost needlessly so I believe we need to find a way to be more helpful to those suffering with mental illness or suicidal thoughts.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would go back and make the U.S. government MUCH more responsive right away to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. So many lives could have been saved.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The death of Princess Diana.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Promoting this show by posing with my set designer!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Between Two Things
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in God (singular) and The Casting Gods (plural) and, most days, reincarnation.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Re-read “Twilight of the Golds” and start preparing for that fight. It’s coming.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The opportunity to make an independent feature film.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The eunuch gay best friend character.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Wishing people happy birthday over Facebook. At this point, does it really mean anything?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Hmmmm….I love that Wimbledon dish that Serena and Martina have won so many times, but I guess I’ll have to wait until a future lifetime to have a crack at that!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Make mistakes. But don’t get paralyzed in a destructive pattern. Do what you have to do to break out of those as soon as you can.
Why Los Angeles?
There are lots of creative people here and LA has an open mind toward entrepreneurs, so it’s the right place for me!
BONUS: Favorite poet?