Carmilla star Natasha Negovanlis is on a mission to normalise queer relationships

Natasha Negovanlis, the pansexual star of supernatural YouTube series Carmilla, tells PinkNews that she’s still coming to terms with her status as a queer icon as she took to the stage at ClexaCon in London.

On the mystery fantasy show where Negovanlis made her name, she played vampire Carmilla Karnstein, who’s initially introduced as the self-involved nemesis of Elise Bauman’s main character Laura Hollis, but quickly becomes her love interest.

Carmilla was a huge success, running for three seasons—or four, if you count season zero—and 123 episodes, being turned into a film, attracting tens of millions of views and spawning countless fan videos chronicling Carmilla and Laura’s romance, like all good on-screen relationships do in the modern age.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Actresses Natasha Negovanlis (L) and Elise Bauman attend VH1's 5th Annual Streamy Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, September 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

Negovanlis and her Carmilla co-star, Elise Bauman (Mike Windle/Getty)

This show was different to most, though. It placed a same-sex relationship at its heart without going down the well-trodden path of turning their story into a tragedy, without treating their attraction as unusual, and without making them the only queer characters in the series.

But despite being part of Carmilla and Laura—or Hollstein, if you want to use their ship name—Negovanlis told PinkNews: “It still baffles my mind that I am considered an icon to anyone, to be honest… especially when I am at home in sweatpants, with zit cream on my face!”

Nevertheless, despite admitting on Twitter that “I too struggle with feeling like I’m not #QueerEnough to speak on #QueerIssues sometimes,” she’s right at the forefront of the fight for queer inclusion.

Negovanlis, seen here in her new YouTube show CLAIREvoyant, is fighting for queer inclusion (natvanlis/instagram)

Since The Carmilla Movie came out a year ago, the 28-year-old Canadian actress has played queer characters in another film, Freelancers Anonymous, and a YouTube dramedy she co-created, called CLAIREvoyant.

“I definitely feel an inherent responsibility to do right by my LGBTQ+ family, as well as other marginalised communities,” she said, adding that the pressure she puts on herself in this area means “I can be really hard on myself sometimes.

“I still have so much to learn, and often make mistakes, but I am also really grateful to be growing into this position and for such a wonderful fandom who teaches me more and more every day.”

It seems she’s doing a good job, both through her acting and her social media presence, which she leverages to boost other LGBT+ creators and actors, and spread the good word about the way to treat same-sex relationships.

In short, she says to “give queer characters the happy endings they deserve and I promise you’ll earn a lifetime of respect and loyal fans.”

The Carmilla Movie came out in 2017 (VHX)

With this in mind, she encouraged viewers to check out CLAIREvoyant, which she described as “a dramedy set it an absurdist universe that showcases positive female friendships and normalises queer relationships.”

Negovanlis also tweets about her mental health, opening up recently about “the number of times I have skipped social events because of crippling anxiety and depression but tell folks that I can’t go because I have the runs.

“As if having exploding diarrhoea is somehow less embarrassing than admitting to taking care of my mental health,” she added.

The actress told PinkNews that this is a conscious decision to bring mental health discussions into the mainstream, and make talking about it as normal as telling people about your physical aches and pains.

“When we normalise having conservations about mental health, we get closer to ending stigma and freeing ourselves from shame,” she explained.

“As if having exploding diarrhoea is somehow less embarrassing than admitting to taking care of my mental health” (natvanlis/Twitter)

“I believe mental health is just as important as physical, spiritual, and emotional health, and it’s important for people to realise that no matter how ‘Instagram worthy’ someone’s life seems, everyone is human and has their own unique struggles and experiences.”

After a “very introspective” 2018 which she said had been “full of lots of travel and life lessons,” Negovanlis was ready for whatever the future brings.

“We are currently working on applications to fund a second season of CLAIREvoyant and have some really weird ideas for plotlines,” she said. “Otherwise, I am always auditioning and open to new experiences.

“I am feeling grounded and just excited to see what 2019 has to offer!”

We feel the same way.

ClexaCon is the first and largest multi-fandom event for LGBT+ women and allies, bringing together together thousands of diverse LGBT+ fans and content creators from around the world to celebrate positive representation for LGBT+ women in the media.