Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 16, No. 4, Ed. 1 Friday, May 28, 1999 Page: 47 of 76
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Depicting an adolescent dyke
Actress Jessica Campbell on the challenges of playing
a thoughtful and sensitive teenage lesbian in Election
By Daniel A. Kusner
Recently there has been an enormous
number of films released that depict the
lives of high schoolers: Varsity Blues,
Cruel Intentions, She's All That, Go,
jawbreaker, Rushmore, etc. But Election,
starring Matthew Broderick and Reese
Witherspoon, has one character that's
sure to have queer moviegoers thrilled
when they leave the theater.
Jessica Campbell plays Tammy
Metzler, a rebellious teenager who chal-
lenges her brother in the race for school
president when she finds out he's dat-
ing her ex-girlfriend. Campbell, who
was only 14 years old when she accept-
ed the role, says she was uneasy about
playing an adolescent dyke at first.
"I didn't know if I could do it,
because it was so beyond anything I've
ever done — especially the whole les-
bian thing,'' she says. "I live in a neigh-
borhood where it isn't completely okay
yet if you're gay. So even just to play a
gay person kind of scared me."
Playing a lesbian became an easier
decision when Campbell realized that
her's was the most honorable character
in the film.
"Once I read through the script, I
realized that she was really the most
stable, thoughtful, sensitve person in
the whole thing. She's the closest one to
a good person. So that made it okay,"
Election is based on a novel by Tom
Perrotta. The story was inspired by two
events: the 1992 Presidential Election
campaign and an incident where a con-
servative high school principal in the
South invalidated a prom queen elec-
tion because the winner was pregnant.
Perrotta found the 1992 election intrigu-
Jessica Campbell says the
boys at her high school pay
her more attention since
her on-screen kiss with
ing because of third-party candidate
Ross Perot, a "wild card" who gained
attention by attacking the entire system
as fraudulent. So Perrotta evoked a sim-
ilar outsider, third-party candidacy
with the lesbian character Tammy.
Campbell says that her personality is
altogether different from the rebellious
Tammy — another factor that made the
part very challenging. In one scene the
candidates deliver speeches. When it's
Tammy's turn, she asks the audience of
students, "Who cares about this stupid
Continued on Next Page
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 16, No. 4, Ed. 1 Friday, May 28, 1999, newspaper, May 28, 1999; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth616524/m1/47/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=client&utm_content=ark_sidebar&utm_campaign=ark_permanent&fbclid=IwAR3Fcbt8GI9_EvX3hwsy4NdrcBc_z-jWTu6WLyS_DKL8hfGAPSynlqJV9LM: accessed September 30, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.