New Docuseries To Explore Lives Of Queer Mormon Teens From Wilson Cruz & Big Iron Productions

EXCLUSIVE: The new docuseries Not Part of the Plan exploring the lives of four queer Mormon teens from executive producers Wilson Cruz (Visible: Out on Television), Amy Redford (The Lincoln Project), Xan Parker (Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise) and Hadleigh Arnst, is currently being shopped. The six-episode project (plus one bonus episode) was directed by Stephen Frandsen (Duck Beach to Eternity).

The first season was filmed over two years following the lives of four queer teens in Utah’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Producers focused on spending extensive time getting to know them, to able to showcase their challenges, victories and the support they receive from Utah-based, non-profit organization Encircle.

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“The personal stories of these young queer people, telling us who they are, will give us an opportunity to hopefully change minds and hearts while educating others so they are more informed, more open, and more caring,” says Cruz, who highlights the urgency for this docuseries at a time when LGBTQIA issues are under attack. “These types of shows, from my experience, save lives. The urgency is now.”

Wilson was the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character on television with his portrayal Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez in the ’90s series My So-Called Life. Additionally, his appearances in multiple general market TV and film projects—no matter how small—offered much-needed visibility to Afro-Latino and Latin American teens. He continues to lift up underserved communities both on and off-screen as an actor, producer and activist.

“Wilson Cruz has been deeply and authentically advocating for LGBTQ + youth in front and behind the scenes for decades,” Redford shared. “His life work led us to making him a core part of our team. I am honored to call him a collaborator. His compassion, insights, humor and creativity are an invaluable addition to the project.”

Director Frandsen offers an important perspective to Not Part of the Plan as a practicing Mormon and a Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He sees a need to be more open about how things can change for the better in his community.

“This docuseries invites the audience into these kids’ experience in the LDS community, and let the audience learn a little bit about what they go through on a daily basis as a member of the Mormon community,” he shared. “The series invites people to see the truth about the lives of queer youth in religious communities.”

Frandsen, Redford, Parker and Arnst collaborate under the Big Iron Productions banner created after recognizing a need for improved treatment of queer youth within their Utah community.

Redford executive produced Showtime’s The Lincoln Project and produced the feature film Professor Marston and the Wonder-Women. She made her directorial debut with The Guitar. Parker is a longtime veteran of the documentary world, best known for Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise and Erika Alexander and Whitney Dow’s The Big Payback, among many others. Arnst, a veteran of both the documentary and commercial world, has produced multi-million dollar campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 Companies. Producers Autumn and Michael McAlpin (Miss Arizona and Waffle Street) also EP under the banner. The production team is repped by Buchwald and Verve.

In addition to his work in shows like Paramount+’s Star Trek: Discovery, Cruz executive produced the AppleTV+ series Visible: Out on Television which shares the history of the American LGBTQ movement through the lens of TV. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of GLSEN and has received numerous awards for his activism in the LGBTQIA community.

Up next for Cruz is the upcoming Netflix film Mother of the Bride opposite Brooke Shields and Benjamin Bratt and he’s just completed voicing season 2 of Hulu’s The Bravest Knight. He is represented by Buchwald, Link Entertainment and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams.

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