Ellen was adopted into a rich family at birth and now she feels a powerful sense of responsibility to use her good fortune to help others. She is a rich plantation owner from the bayous of Louisiana. She likes to help others and she has the means to do it, except when prejudice gets in her way. Ellen has outfitted buildings on her property to serve as shelters for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Some fundamentalists don't want her to help because she is a Lesbian.
But will she be able to overcome local prejudice and help evacuees?
LOGO INTERVIEWS ELLEN!
We caught up with Ellen months after shooting ended on Elephant in the Room,
to find out how life's been, about life in Louisiana post-Katrina, if she's still as staunch a Republican as before, and how she expects people to respond to her--and the film.
How has your life been since making "Elephant in the Room"?
We've been hard at work. We just went through grinding [the sugar cane] on the farm, then next came Mardi Gras...
Were you in New Orleans for Mardi Gras?
Of course! I was bartending! I have to tell you, it's humbling to see how the city has been decimated. I mean, in the Endymion Parade at Mardi Gras, there are normally 130 floats. This time there were only 14. Where there had been normally 150 bands, there were 3 bands. It was just like the rest of the entire city--80% of the people are missing! But we tried to have fun. We partied like it was the turn of the century and did our best.
How are the people that we saw in the documentary, who had been living in your housing--like the couple, Diane and Leonard? Leonard had cancer, didn't he?
Well, Leonard--he passed away. But it's been good to see Diane pick up her life and try and move on. She got married when she was 14, so for the first time she's learning to drive and just really put her life together. We're all moving on.
Most people in Louisiana are sick that we've become nothing more than a talking point, or a bone of contention for the rest of the country. I say, "Stop talking and arguing about us and get to work! Get off your ass, and get something done." I don't blame anyone for doing this or not doing this about Katrina, because that doesn't help. You can point fingers if you want to, but I got work to do with my fingers!
If you ask me, the only way New Orleans is going to be rebuilt is if the individuals who lived here come back and fix up their own stuff. People need to come back from Dallas or wherever they've gone and take care of their own homes. Don't depend on others to help you, you've got to help yourself. That's still my philosophy.
Many feel the Republican Party is unwelcoming to gay people, since they support legislation that prevents us from getting married or adopting children. Does that affect your decision to continue as Republican?
Nope. I think the Republican Party is realistic. You know, what should be and what is, are two different things, and this is what is. I'm not a "Oh, feel sorry for me..." person. When I go to the polls and vote, I'm not a lesbian, I'm an American. I vote for the people who I think are going to get things done.
The gun that you carry on your hip makes a big statement--about your independence and how you feel about personal freedoms. How do people respond to it?
They don't. Around here, it's not that big of a deal. Maybe it is to people from other parts of the country, but not around here.
And have you ever had to use it?
Not that gun, but I fired an AR-15 over this guy's head--and it sure got his attention. He was eating out of my garbage can, so he was on my land and he wasn't supposed to be. Simple as that.
How do you expect your life will change once this show airs?
That doesn't matter to me. What would be nice is for a large group of liberals, which is your viewing audience, to realize that not all Republicans are villains. Just because I'm a Republican, it doesn't mean that I'm racist or oil-hungry, or that I don't care about the environment. Of course, I care! I've got an oil company drilling on my land, so you can bet I'm watching them every step of the way. Because my land is connected to your land, we're all connected. I want my land to be here to pass on to my brother's children. And they know that Aunt Ellen isn't going to let anything happen to it.
Your friend Miss Mabel appears in the documentary. She seems like such a soothing, inspiring influence for you. Do you think you'll ever gain that kind of peace as you grow older?
I hope so--but probably not as much as the people around me hope so. [Laughs.] I might actually mellow out a little, but we'll see. Because I can't accept things, when things go wrong. I can accept people, but it's things that get me. Maybe by the time I'm 115, I'll have mellowed out some. [Laughs.] But I doubt it.
Ellen can be contacted at this address: MissMottin@yahoo.com