Ricki Lake was always on my screen growing up, from her fantabulous portrayal of Tracy Turnblad in John Waters’ 1988 movie Hairspray, to her eponymous talk show that I would hurry home from school to watch in the ’90s. However, aside from a few cameos here and there (dream ghost in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!!), much of Ricki’s work now happens behind the camera.
Her first documentary, The Business of Being Born (2008), was groundbreaking, as it shined a light on the birth industrial complex, and how it is failing moms and babies. More importantly, it gave a voice to many women, and allowed others to know they’re not alone. Along with friend and co-producer Abby Epstein, Ricki went on to work on other documentaries, tackling hot topics like breastfeeding, midwifery, and birth control. Their latest, Weed the People, follows the journey of pediatric patients who rely on medical cannabis for treatment. While this may seem like a departure from the Business of Being Born, the new film boils down to similar themes: Parents deserve the ability to advocate for themselves and their children, whether it’s with birth or life-changing/saving medication that is still illegal on a federal level.
Ricki was drawn to the film’s topic while filming Dancing With the Stars. A fan wrote in about her young daughter battling cancer, and Ricki, her late husband Christian Evans, and Epstein were off to meet with the family. They were soon plunged headfirst into the world of medical cannabis.
Your assumptions about medical marijuana are probably wrong. Learn how cannabis is becoming the last hope for thousands of sick children and their families. See Weed The People – The Movie in theaters starting this October! weedthepeoplemovie.com/screenings
Posted by Weed The People – The Movie on Friday, September 21, 2018
With Weed the People premiering across the country, we took some time to talk to Ricki to learn more about her hopes for the movie, as well as what she was like in high school!
- Do you believe in God? Yes, though I don’t have an actual image of God — I do believe in a higher power.
- What do you think happens when we die? I choose to believe that we get to be reunited with our loved ones and I do believe 100% that our spirit lives on.
- What were you like in high school? I was popular and well-liked, but also felt like a wannabe. My best friend was the star athlete and valedictorian, and I was constantly trying to keep up with her accolades.
- What do you hope to accomplish with Weed the People? I really hope that this film helps to change the culture around cannabis and de-stigmatize this healing plant. Most of us have been misled by the political campaign that demonized cannabis as a drug of abuse, which is scientifically not accurate. This is a very medicinal plant that has been kept from us because of politics, racism and greed.
- The documentaries you’ve worked on all touch on womanhood in some way — pregnancy, birth control — and now motherhood to a degree. Why are these women-centric themes so important to you? I really don’t make films that preach to audiences or try to convince them of a certain point of view. I am inspired by the issues that move me personally, which tend to stem from my experiences as a woman and a mother. My late husband Christian Evans had been researching cannabis oil for his own health issues and then we tried to help a young girl who was going through chemotherapy. Weed the People came out of my desire to help this sick little girl, so its origins really came from my maternal instincts.