Oscar(R), Tony(R) and Golden Globe(R) Award-Winning Actress Mercedes Ruehl and J.D. Pardo Star in The Lifetime Original Movie 'Just a Girl,' the Tragic True Story of a Boy Who Dared to Live as a Young Woman and the Consequences That Followed Her Bold Decis
Lifetime Partners with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
(PFLAG) for Public Service Campaign
LOS ANGELES, March 15 -- Oscar(R), Tony(R) and Golden
Globe(R) award-winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King," "Married to the Mob")
and J.D. Pardo ("Veronica Mars," "American Dreams") will star in the Lifetime
Original Movie "Just a Girl," a moving drama about a loving single mother who
prevails upon her close-knit Latino family to accept her teenaged son's daring
decision to live as a girl, who is then shockingly murdered by a group of boys
who discover her secret. Famed attorney Gloria Allred serves as co-executive
producer. Based on a true story, "Just a Girl" will premiere this June on
"The issue of transgender sexual identity remains controversial and still
considered a taboo subject," said Trevor Walton, Senior Vice President,
Lifetime Original Movies. "This true story portrays with compassion and
empathy a remarkable family's struggle to understand Eddie's choice to become
Gwen. It also examines the terrible consequences of ignorance and fear that
exist around this issue. Mercedes and J.D. are perfectly cast as these
extraordinary characters, and will beautifully capture the emotional
minefields these characters navigate in this painful yet inspiring story of
tolerance and acceptance."
"Just a Girl" is the true story of Sylvia Guerrero (Ruehl), the mother
whose son, Eddie (Pardo), begins to dress and act as a girl. Defying his
traditional Latino heritage, Eddie insists on wearing makeup, growing his hair
and eventually changing his name to Gwen, after the singer he idolizes, Gwen
Stefani. When Gwen's transgender status is discovered by four young men at a
local party, they savagely beat and kill her. The shocking and senseless
murder shakes the community and Sylvia dedicates her life to bringing her
daughter's murderers to justice and advocate for the rights of all transgender
Ruehl earned an Academy(R) Award, a Golden Globe(R) and a Los Angeles Film
Critics Society Award for her performance in "The Fisher King." Her
breakthrough film role was in "Married to the Mob," which earned her a
National Society of Film Critics Award. Ruehl's additional film credits
include "Last Action Hero," "Slaves of New York," "Big," Woody Allen's "Radio
Days," "84 Charing Cross Road" and "Heartburn." She has numerous stage
credits and most notably won a Tony Award for her performance in "Lost in
Yonkers" and won an Obie for her performance in "The Marriage of Bette and
Boo." Ruehl recently starred in the Lifetime Original Movie "Mom at Sixteen,"
opposite Jane Krakowski.
Pardo recently appeared in episodes of "Veronica Mars" and "American
Dreams" and was a series regular in the CBS drama "Clubhouse," opposite Dean
Cain. His feature film credits include "Havoc," with Anne Hathaway and "A
Cinderella Story," with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.
Famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represented Sylvia Guerrero
at the murder trial, also serves as co-executive producer on the project.
Having practiced law for over 30 years, Allred is a partner in the Los Angeles
law firm of Allred, Maroko and Goldberg. She is a three-time local area Emmy
nominee for her television commentary on KABC-TV. Allred most recently served
as co-executive producer of the CBS television movie "Amber Frey: Witness for
the Prosecution." "From an early age, the child that was born Eddie Araujo,
Jr., felt like a female trapped in a male's body," said Allred. Adding,
"Dressing as a female and calling herself 'Gwen' was an expression of her
identity. Unfortunately, her honesty and courage cost her her life. I am very
excited that Lifetime has decided to present this important and emotionally
compelling project. Once again Lifetime demonstrates that it truly is an
innovative and pioneering leader in television."
Executive producer Zev Braun adds, "Even in the twenty-first century,
society is still separated by race, religion and gender. It's time those
walls be taken down and for people to be accepted for who and what they are --
human beings." Fellow executive producer Philip Krupp agrees, "Indeed -- we
need to remember what Sylvia Guerrero simply told the defendants as they were
being sentenced, 'Gwen deserved the right to live her life.'"
As part its continuing commitment to inform and support viewers about the
issues explored in "Just a Girl," Lifetime Television will work with Parents,
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to develop a public service
announcement (PSA), which will air immediately following the film. In
addition, visitors to Lifetimetv.com will have access to links to several key
organizations working to promote tolerance.
"Understanding the tremendous challenges that Gwen and her family faced in
their day-to-day lives and the horrible end that she met communicates an
important message - we need to pay attention and take action," said Jody M.
Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and
Gays (PFLAG). "More importantly, 'Just a Girl' exposes the hate that Gwen and
other transgender individuals too frequently face, along with the uphill
battle they encounter in the eyes of the law in trying to gain equal treatment
"Just a Girl" is produced by Braun Entertainment Group in association with
Sony Pictures Television for Lifetime Television. Zev Braun and Philip Krupp
("Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution," "Menendez: A Killing in Beverly
Hills") are executive producers. Gloria Allred is co-executive producer.
Shelley Evans ("Footsteps," "One Kill") wrote the teleplay. Oscar(R)
nominated and critically acclaimed Agnieszka Holland ("Europa Europa," "The
Wire," "Copying Beethoven") will direct.
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content providers. SPT produces and distributes top-rated, award-winning
programming in every genre, including series, movies and family entertainment
for network and cable television; first-run syndicated series; off-network
syndicated programs; and theatrical releases. SPT
(http://www.sonypicturestelevision.com) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Lifetime is the leader in women's television and one of the top-rated
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committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information
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