Byron Lane: Princess Leia's Assistant, Author, and Cancer Survivor

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Byron Lane is a man of many titles. An Emmy award winning journalist, he served as Carrie Fisher's personal assistant, wrote and co-stars in Tilda Swinton Answers A Craigslist Ad, and is currently enjoying the debut of his first novel, A Star Is Bored - A Devil Wears Prada meets Postcards from the Edge. We chat Carrie Fisher, coming out, dating in Hollywood, and getting through chemo...again.  

This is metro source mini the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's metro source on the go out in crown since one thousand nine hundred and ninety. Well, this is metro source minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez. Waking Princess, Leia Debu Reynolds, Tilda Swinton, pride SASS and people magazines best book of summer have in common, I would tell you. Byron Lane is an author, playwright and screen writer. His debut novel is called a star is born and everybody loves it. It's about a celebrity assistant struggling to manage his eccentric and hilarious movie star boss, inspired in part by Byron's time as assistant to be loved actress and one of my personal favorites, carry Fisher. Lane also co wrote, or he wrote and Co Stars in, the play Tilda went him answers an Adam craigslist what the hell comedy did that has sold out runs in New York, La San Francisco, London and Edi Bird fringe twice. He wrote and Co Stars in last will and Testicle and award winning web series about his testicular cancer diagnosis, which screen at festivals around the world, and he wrote and Co Stars in a feature film called Herpes Boy, Starring Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer, which one best comedy at Comic Con. Among many other authors, he's a regional Emmy Award winner from his time as a TV news journalist who I'm tired just reading his bio place. Welcome, fire and lane he day. Thanks for having me, Alexander. Yeah, how are you? I'm doing really great. I'm having a nice Saturday. Yeah, good, good, good. You have been involved in so many different aspects of the entertainment industry. I'm just reading your resume. You can see it's so many different niches, from from from novels to web series to films, independent film to Journalism. But you've been so involved in the entertainment behind the scenes. Is it hard...

...to watch a movie, read a book whatever, without analyzing it? Are you? Are you still able to enjoy entertainment? The good stuff, the good stuff that's pretty seamless, is easy to just kind of post through and enjoy, but they're definitely moments where I'm I'm noticing things and thinking, are we still in Act One? What's happening? So I do have my I do have my moments, all right. So, though, a stars board, which I read in one sitting, by the way, I couldn't get put it down. It's a work of fiction, but it seems very real and intimate. Especially know in your real life history, did you have any trepidation with being so open with the characters personal issues to deal with, suicidal thoughts, depression and a wonky father relationship, not to mention some real honesty about the entertainment industry? I just have found in my life that the more honest I am, the better is for for me, for everyone around me and all often when I tell stories about my own life and my own issues with depression and therapy and working for Hollywood folks, most people are like me too, and thanks for sharing and and I relate and that kind of community building has been really a lovely to experience. So for me it's like the more of the Merrier, the more open I can be, the better. That's just been something that serves me. You know, I thought I have to know what was the feeling like when you open the box and there is your debut novel hot off the press. You know, the the weirdest thing about getting the first the first copy, was I'd only seen it in photos on people's instagrams and whatever, people who got advanced copies. Because of the pandemic, mailing was delayed, and in all of those pictures it looked like the book was enormous and I was so scared that I was gonna get this book that was like aid and half by eleven, like a giant ipad size, but it was normal sizes. I was really my first reaction, but I had already kind of cried all my happy tears. I cried happy tears...

...when my agent liked it and when she agreed to be my agent, and that was very meaningful moment for me. So I had my landmarks of like emotional, emotional moment. So when I got the actual thing, it was I was ready for business. I was ready for it to get out there and get in more people's hands. You know, working for Carrie Fisher, and carry Fisher is so beloved among the Science Fiction Fans, the LGBT community, classic Hollywood lovers. I mean he's part of Hollywood royalty. She herself, you know, definite name for herself, with with certain feelings and emotions that you can't help but feel every time you would hear her name, the good and the bad. What were some of the most important things that knowing Carrie and your friendship and working with her has taught you for everyday life? Her sense of humor spread to every moment of my time with her, even just running casual errands. Was Super Fun, lighthearted and I think for me a big takeaway from my experience with her was just that like not to take life too seriously, that you can find humor in anything, that humor heels, and I would say that that's that was some of the Carrie was just super fun and in a big hearted, loving way, and I'm lucky that I got to experience that and see what it looks like to live your life that way, and I tried to take a little bit of that into my end of my own life and my own journey since I since my time with her. You know well, and that energy certain bleeds through stars board, I mean with the character say and go through. You read the whole book with a smile and you get to the end and it's so bitter sweet. You know, it's really emotional because you really bond with these characters and humor is so important for me as well and before getting through everyday things. I think that's what a lot of people need, need to to hold on to and to appreciate. It's never lose that sense of humor. Yeah, really...

...is true, very true, especially in today's climate. You know, everybody is so angry, for good reason, but sometimes you can just take a breath and and have a good laugh or see, see the humor. I mean I see the humor by outfit today. I love her open. What is it? A Little Flora? Yeah, a little Saturday morning we're wearing right. I love it. It's very cool. Thank you all right. So last one and testicle, is your web series about your cancer diagnosis. And not only are you going through quarantine right now like the rest of us, but you started chemo again. Yeah, Um, tell me what going through Chemo again does to somebody mentally and how do you get through that? Huh? Well, so my costicular cancer diagnosis was first five years ago and they took out the testicle with the cancer and then all of my tumor markers and all that went back to normal and so the doctor said you don't need to do chemo now, you can just keep coming in regularly. will do test and if it comes back, it comes back and we treat then. So I did that and sure enough, like almost at the five year mark, I went in for another scan and it showed the cancer had returned in some lymph nodes. So I've been doing chemo for that and I kind of I don't know, this has been a this has been an interesting experience because I was sort of the cancer thing happened so long ago that I already went through that phase of accepting like a sort of sense of vulnerability and mortality, and so then now having to deal with it again, there's a little bit of me that's like nervous. Will it ever really end? They say that this kind of cancer is curable and like in more than ninety percent of the cases this treatment knocks it out and it never comes back, but I think I'm going to have like that little nagging part of me now that's always like live a little bit more to the fullest, you know, because you never know, and that's a very about I say that optimism. You know,...

I'm I'm generally a really positive thinking person and so I'm I'm I am ready to see what happens next. And I saw this thing spray painted on a sidewalk in La. Someone spray painted live this life, and so I really do try to just embrace that, like this is my journey. Whatever is ahead, we'll deal with it. So that's kind of that's kind of where I am, and I mean the chemo has been unpleasant at moments, but it hasn't been as bad as some of the other people next to me in that room. So I do I do go in it with some gratitude that it's not the worst it can be and I'm really just I am looking forward to it all being behind me, though. Well, and it's interesting, you know, we're in quarantine, which can be so isolating. I know a number of people, especially from the lgbt community, have this isolation. I flad from friends, family and there's there's a you know, depression is very rampant right now and I can imagine, and from what I've seen with cancer within my own family, is you know, people feel and want feel bad and they want to support you, but going through Chemo and going through a cancer diagnosis is it's very much on your own and it's a very isolating and having to go through it. It is your journey, it is your mortality. That coupled with quarantine. But do you have any tips for somebody that might be going through a depression from feelings of isolation? Gosh, I mean, reach out to whoever you can. I mean I'm I'mnfortunate that I live with my boyfriend, Steven, and he's been awesome and I have a little dog, Tilda, who's beside me snoring, and they both bring me a lot of comfort and enjoy and love. I've also I've also been in therapy for years and years and years and I have a huge stack of self help books. So I feel like I'm filled with tools that helped me when I have feelings of depression and anxiety, and so I guess I would just encourage someone who might be experiencing the same thing to reach out to someone who can help. There are also lots of like online resources and chat rooms that...

...are that are free, where you can find a licensed therapist and some sometimes you can find people who just want to who were just available to listen, and so that's my advice. Reach out. You're not alone and and Gosh, there are a lot of people who are isolated right now. This is a really weird time, very weird time. So you mentioned your boo and I just had to ask you. You know, I'm an entertainment industry as well. You have seen somebody sides of it. Like we said, you came out of it with a boo. You Know How lucky you are. I know, I know, it's so crazy. It was really I don't know, okay cupid. Oh you did Thomson to ask you. How did you guys meet and what tips do you have for dating in the entertainment industry, because I need some help. It was hard. I mean for me it was. I just had this thing in the back of my head that it was a numbers game, and so I was just going on dates and dates and dates and dates, and I do remember when I met Steve. We met on Okay Cupid. I thought his profile was so funny and then we talked on the phone and then we met at a pinkberry and when I left that I called a friend of mine, my friend Eva, and I said I think, I think I met my husband like this is very clear to me. It was just so easy and so lovely and maybe I had the sense of that from years and years of dating that I kind of had a sense of what felt right and what felt forced, and things with Steve were just so lovely and easy. And I was also, let's see, I'm forty one now, about forty two, and so this was seven years ago, so I was, you know, in my s and I had I had not had a serious relationship before Steve. So so it just hang in there. That's my advice everyone. Just hang in there, follow your heart. You know, I will say one thing I like to go to okay Cupid is you could answer all those questions and so you could weed out a lot of a lot of the areas where you weren't compatible pretty early on.

So so that's my pitch for okay cupid. But my my big picture thing is just keep going. There's there's someone for everyone and you got this, you got this friend. But all those questions, I have no patience for that. Like even my grinder profile is like I'm here, want I say put that, put that in answer all your questions with I don't have time for this and then someone's gonna be like, I did it by me and we're celebrating pride the season. What was your coming out story? So my coming out story was revolves around the film titanic and Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh my God, okay, I still have magazine After magazine with Leo when he came out, like of any fair when he did Roman Julia. I still have calendars. I am a Leo Freak. You are talking about the right person. Hey, hey, teammate. He was my he was like my first like crush, crush, and titanic was out and I'm from a kind of a conservative family and I went home and was chatting with my sister. My parents were divorced. It was a mess and shouting with my sister and then, and I told her, she was the first person I told she had that. She had a poster on her door, a titanic poster, and Leonardo was on one side and Kat was on the other and they were kind and so I kind of position myself like where Kate was, as if I was going to kiss him, and then that's so that was my coming and then she told my dad and my dad had have a family meeting. It was all a little bit messy and that was that was many years ago. That was just when I was getting into college and they've come a really long way and their journey of acceptance and all that stuff, but that's how it started. We're in a very interesting pride season this year from from many different reasons. What does pride mean to you this year, different than any other pride season? Wow, we'll probably probably is such a personal thing. You know, I will say I I mean, speaking of pride, I...

...feel really proud. I feel really proud of our community, the way we've stepped up to help other marginalized communities. As a gay man, I just feel like we are experiencing a period of visibility that we haven't experienced before, thanks to the many brave people who came before us. And I'll tell you, like I said, coming coming from a conservative family, this is this is still, even even as I enter my s, is still a new feeling for me. This this feeling of being really proud to be gay. And so I think that's what I'm going to mark this year's pride with, is celebrating that I actually feel such a heartfelt sense of pride in our community. I absolutely love that. Okay, are you ready to play a little rapid fire? Yes, let's see what happens in my God. Okay, most awkward celebrity meeting. Oh my God, I'm terrible at this because I'm not very rapid. I'm I'm trying to think who I've met or whatever. Well, I guess my first, the first person I ever met was Sean Lennon John Wan son, and that was because Carrie and she said I'm going to get introduce you your first celebrity, and so we were in New York and she was friends with him and invite him to the teleroom. I open the door and he's so kind and so cool, was there with a top hat. Just it was like you couldn't have scripted a better better now, but it was really just like hello, and then I got out and let them hang out, and so that was my mom okay, I'm guilty. Pleasure TV or movie that you're watching during quarantine? Oh, I've been watching. We've been watching a lot of the old school stuff, like Air Force One, a lot of Tom Cruise movies. We just watched that lived. I repeat, what's that one where he keeps damn tomorrow or day after tomorrow...

...or I don't know, I don't, I can't. I love that one with I'm only blood. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yes, they changed. They were going to change it to lived. I repeat, I don't know, something like that, but anyway, that's been my guilty pleasure. We're going through like a Tom Cruise period. Really, he'd know. What I'm addicted to are the old disaster movies, like airplane, you know, set before whatever, Poseidon Adventure. I can't get en off of it. They're good. They're going especially during this time, you know. Yeah, Byron. What celebrity would you want to share your quarantine bed with? My quarantine bed? Yeah, oh my, Um Gosh. WHO, like, like, who's my celebrity crush right now? Um, who's your hot path? I'm into. I'm James Macavoy's kind of my guy these days. He's like Vera Pudding, but he's so who's yours? Tom Hardy. That's a really good one. That's a really good yeah. Yeah, that's a really fun one. I like skinny Tom Hardy, chunky Tom Hardy, any Tom Hardy it which one? Now Capone? Yeah, yeah, I would. Literally it's on my list to watch tomorrow. A Byron, I one thing you will never take for granted again from having to go through Chema. This is too big of an answer, but health, it really is true. Like like right now, I feel so good, I feel so alive. I'm interested in the blue sky and the green grass, but when when I'm not feeling well, when the toxins are in me, I'm I just just want to sleep through the whole thing. So my health really is front center. I up, Byron. Thank you so much for chatting. If we can, you turn you can find and follow you and where we can find your book. So the book is available anywhere books are sold starting on July...

...twenty eight, but you can preorder it now. I always like to do a little pitch for if you have a favorite local indie bookstore, or you can go to indie bound dot org and type in your zip code and they can help you find a cool place to support some local businesses. But other than that, I'm on twitter Byron Lane and Instagram Byron lanecom and I'm on facebook Byre Lane. So I would love to connect. Yes, for sure, and I'm not even lying. So I did get one of the advanced copies that it's perfectly sized, by the way, yes, and I literally just read it through the night, and I am so glad that I did, to such a joy that has been. On episode of Byron Lane. I'm your host and lead writer for Metro source, Alexander Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexanders on air, and you can binge listen to all of our episodes featuring your favorite celebrities from our metro source issues. Until next time, stay true, stay, you do you well, all right, have you pride. Everybody that has been another metro source mini like share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Source Magazine on newsstands or online at Metro sourcecom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at metal source and on twitter at Metros course, man. Until next time, TAK FAST.

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