Q

Maria Bello on her modern family, self-acceptance and how it all came together in the film Giant Little Ones

The actor and author opens up about how some remarkable wisdom from her son helped her realize the importance of living and loving without labels.
Maria Bello plays Franky’s mom, Carly, in Giant Little Ones. She's also an executive producer on the film. (Mongrel Media)

Experiencing something for the first time can be life-changing, especially when it's a moment shared with a best friend. In Maria Bello's new film Giant Little Ones, best friends Franky and Ballas share an unexpected sexual moment that changes their friendship in ways they could never predict.

The film has special meaning for Bello, as she knows what it's like to fall in love with a best friend.

Before writing her 2015 memoir Whatever...Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, Bello told her son that she was in a romantic relationship with a friend — a woman that he considers to be a godmother. His response would come to inspire the title of her book: "He said, 'Ma, whether you're gay, bi, trans or whatever, love is love — shout it out to the world.'"

The love without labels message inspired Bello to take part in Giant Little Ones as both an actor and an executive producer. When she received the script for the film, she told writer and director Keith Behrman that she wanted to be a part of it within an hour of reading the script.

"It's the curiosity within, that teenage enthusiasm within the movie and... to not feel confined by any label that doesn't suit you," Bello said to q's Tom Power about what she finds most inspiring about the film.

Giant Little Ones was shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with a young leading cast. Bello admired the actors' bravery in speaking openly about sexual fluidity and self-acceptance.

"I think that this generation is much more open to people having different experiences of sexual identity, but then when I see homophobia rearing its head, and bullying happening, and the rate of gay and trans teen suicide, I worry," said Bello. "But then I also feel very inspired by doing a movie like this that maybe it will help to change people's hearts and minds".

Giant Little Ones debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The film is out in theatres in Toronto and Vancouver now, with more cities to be added throughout the spring.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full interview.

Produced by Enrica Ammaturo

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