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I spoke with Stavroula Toska and Eleni Yiovas about their award-winning series SWITCH. Switch is the story based on Stavroula’s experiences of going undercover and working as a dominatrix in New York City. Now before you pre-judge this, as I did, let me tell you, you have never heard anyone describe the BDSM world before in this way. Stavroula is the creator, writer, actor – coming from a long career as a filmmaker, and Eleni is an Executive Producer and actor.
The series features no less than Olympia Dukakis, John Lindstrom, and Cady McClain, and episodes were directed by Cady McClain, Laurie Weltz, Katie Maguire and Stavroula.
Stavroula and Eleni sat down with me and spoke of this work with such empathy, compassion, and respect for humanity, vulnerability, and the ways in which we heal the world. Seriously, we brought up Brene Brown.
More about the series:
Based on the true life story of creator Stavroula Toska, SWITCH follows Stella, an immigrant woman with a dark past who begins training as a professional dominatrix in New York City's most exclusive BDSM Establishment while battling PTSD and trying to build a better life for herself.
SWITCH takes viewers on a journey to the riveting world of BDSM from a deeply benevolent, unorthodox and cerebral POV by following Stella and the main characters as they navigate leading a double life, the struggle for power, identity, ambition, love and family. We explore the many aspects of human nature and conditioning that most people never discuss openly; the fantasies we have and why, the childhood trauma buried inside each one of us, the various masks we wear in order to survive in this world, the struggle to lead a decent life, the unspoken pain that is desperately looking for an outlet, the duality in us all, and the lengths we go to in order to connect with one another.
The title refers to the switch we make when we explore our other side, when we go through the darkness in order to find our light, when we start listening to the parts of our self that were shamed to silence, when we hit rock bottom and start rising again. Switch is also a popular term used in BDSM practice representing the power exchange between two consenting adults of the opposite sex.
HuffPo story about Stavroula here
The Awards so far…
SWITCH was recently honored with the 2019 BEST STORY AWARD at the prestigious Santa Fe Film Festival, it has received the BEST SUSPENSE/ BEST ACTION AWARD at the New York Women in Film and Television & Go Indie TV / Roku TV competition, and Stavroula Toska received the OUTSTANDING ACTRESS AWARD category in the same competition. The series has also received the BEST PILOT / BEST NEW SERIES AWARD at the 2019 Calcutta International Film Festival and at the 2019 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the BEST PILOT AWARD at the 2019 Best Shorts Film Festival, the BEST WEB SERIES AWARD at the Global Shorts Film Festival.
SWITCH features a most inclusive and stellar cast and crew (over 70% female), including Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, The Infiltrator, Bored to Death, Steel Magnolias, Tales of the City, Look who’s Talking), two-time Emmy winner Cady McClain (All My Children, As the World Turns, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct, Law & Order), Emmy-nominee Jon Lindstrom (True Detective, BOSCH, NCIS: Los Angeles, General Hospital) Mark Borkowski (House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods), India Ennenga (The Irishman, The Orchard, About Scout, Treme), Bobby Daniel Rodriguez (Narcos, Central Park Five, Bel Canto, Orange in the New Black), Katie Maguire (Billions, Search Party, LI Divas, Blue Bloods), Catherine Chadwick (White Collar, Z: The Beginning of Everything, The Normal Heart).