Back in 2004, the seminal Showtime series The L Word prompted a question that’s only just begun to be answered: What would the future hold for Bette and Tina’s baby? Jordan Hull had zero idea at the time she signed on to portray Angie in The L Word: Generation Q, the reboot that’s currently in its second season. The 18-year-old series regular only knew that Bette was not someone to be messed with when she first met the actor who portrays her, Jennifer Beals. “I thought they were one and the same—this could-kill-you-with-one-look-type who wears a lot of blazers,” Hull recalls over Zoom from her apartment in Los Angeles. “So I showed up in this blazer I’d just bought from Zara, the tag still on. And she came in with this awesome turquoise scarf and whole Buddha thing—she’d just been meditating. It was the complete opposite of what I thought. We immediately clicked.”
By the end of lunch, they were fully acquainted; Beals even knew about Hull’s earnest attempt to impress her after trying to remove the Zara tag sticking out of her jacket. “She couldn’t do it, so she stood up,” Hull recalls. “We’re both standing up in the middle of the lunch, and she’s calling over to the kitchen, Can someone get me scissors?” Hull has come to regard Beals and Laurel Holloman, her other on-screen mom on Generation Q, as family, almost from the trio’s very first moment together at a cast dinner. “The seating arrangement had all three of us in a row, and when [Holloman] sat down, there was this weird familial tie from the second I was near her,” Hull says.
Hull—whose next on-screen parents are Queen Latifah and Adam Sandler, in the upcoming film Hustle—was about to quit acting when she found out she got the part of Angie. It had been years since her family moved to L.A. so she could pursue acting, and yet her biggest casting coup at that point was a role singing Bible verses in a school production of Sister Act. Hull grew up in a small, conservative part of Iowa, close enough to the state capital of Des Moines that she could frequent one of its biggest malls. (To give you an idea of just how conservative her hometown was, after she’d gotten the role of Angie, her mother received a message: “The pastor’s wife was like, Why would you let your daughter be on that show?”) In the seventh grade, Hull was somewhere in the midst of her usual routine—“probably secretly peeking into Victoria’s Secret or going to Orange Julius”—when a talent scout from Barbazon agency approached her to suggest she try acting or modeling. She was immediately all in. “I was like, Sure, I love attention—thank you for spotting me,” she recalls with a laugh.
Jordan Hull (Angie) and Sophie Giannamore (Jordi) in The L Word: Generation Q season 1 episode 6.
Courtesy of Showtime
The young queer community referenced in Generation Q’s title favors a fluid approach to gender and sexuality. (Even the use of the word “lesbian” is rare.) You’d expect the cast’s youngest member to be most accustomed to that way of thinking, but it’s relatively new for Hull, who’d never depicted a relationship like the one between Angie and her partner Jordi, played by Sophie Giannamore. “I think it definitely took a lot of unlearning,” Hull says. “I had really binary terms in every sense and a lot of shame and all that stuff, and that’s something I’m still dealing with.” And while L.A. was welcomely progressive, her Christian school was something of a bubble: “Playing a queer character was a bit like, Oh, she’s doing the devil’s work.”
Angie’s most central plot line this season, on the other hand, is one Hull, who is adopted, can intimately relate to. Just like Angie does in episode 3, which aired this past Sunday, Hull has been reckoning with her conflicted feelings about tracking down her birth father, especially since her 18th birthday earlier this summer. Angie is one year away from hers, and while Bette and Tina had promised Angie’s anonymity until then, she hesitantly starts to go ahead and do so anyway. Hull fully understands her trepidation. “Your birth parents feel like this mythical thing—like Santa Claus, if Santa Claus was faceless or nameless,” she says. “Reaching out to them is really brave and scary, because the cover is blown. You still have this childlike imagination about them. I’m tackling whether I want to keep that little gift for myself, or if maybe I’ll learn something better by reaching out.”
Jordan Hull photographed by Pavielle Garcia for W magazine, makeup by Renee Loiz and hair by Nina J.
The season later gets into another similarity: Both of their birth fathers are Black. Hull is well aware that such a plot line is a departure from the original series. “It was groundbreaking, but it still was very white in its vocabulary and bodies. I remember going into it, being a Black girl with a Black body, and being like, My body doesn’t look like these people that everybody seems to objectively find as sexy.” There was just one exception: Bette’s sister Kit, memorably played by Pam Grier. (From the moment it announced the reboot, Showtime has repeatedly emphasized showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan’s commitment to putting all that in the series’s past.)
Hull is soon headed back to Philadelphia to wrap up filming Hustle—and, in her off-time, continue hanging out with Sandler and Latifah. “I’m really into jazz music, so Queen has been showing me Horace Silver and Adam introduced me to Charles Mingus, just all these cool jazz people. I’d bring my guitar to set and we’d sing and play together, too.” (And if you’re wondering, yes, there are recordings.) As for what type of Sandler we’re going to get in the upcoming film, she describes his performance as a mix between The Meyerowitz Stories and Uncut Gems. When I ask if it’s weird to have him play her father after seeing the latter, she laughs. “Totally—he is wiiild in that.”