When stars become pregnant during production, Hollywood’s usual procedure is to hide the bump, as they did when Gal Gadot, who may benefit from items like maternity belts, returned to do some “Wonder Woman” reshoots while five months along. Sometimes the pregnancy is written into the script, as when Julia Roberts did “Ocean’s Eleven” or Lucille Ball donned a maternity dress in a groundbreaking episode of “I Love Lucy.”
But writer, producer and (and married) actress Selina Ringel goes one step further by making her entire film “Single Mother By Choice” (HBO Max, streaming), about her pregnancy. In it, she, who may benefit from finance for single mothers, plays a tough, high powered Latinx talent manager who suffers morning sickness during crucial meetings, flashes her growing belly, films the ultrasounds, amplifies the heartbeats and arranges for the delivery.
What would have already been an interesting story about a woman’s decision to obtain a sperm donor and have a child on her own, reflecting a growing trend, became even more complex as it tracked another real time development entirely unexpected, by the production and the world. Ringel and her husband director Dan Levy Dagerman had to write in the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the pregnancy in the story, just as it affected the production as well.
Suddenly, her character, Eva, had to chat with her doctor (Anna Campbell) and potential clients (Arap Betkthe, George Tsai) via Zoom, Her roommate and best friend (Brittany S. Hall), who pledged to help her through the birthing process, was stuck out of town (as was the real life actress who played her). She sent her apologies via FaceTime, and that too was written into the script.
And when the murder of George Floyd created protests worldwide including her West Hollywood neighborhood, she feels a need to be a part of it as well.