Jacqueline Toboni Talks Rosie, Role Models, and Going Full Magic Mike in Gen Q

This Jacqueline Toboni interview contains spoilers for The L Word: Generation Q Episode 303 “Quiz Show.”

Episode three of The L Word: Generation Q is out, and I have so many feelings. How could you not, right? There were some truly Oh Em Gee moments, and the return of Rosie O’Donnell as Tina’s jilted ex-fiancee Carrie. As a special treat, I got to hop on Zoom and have a chat with Jacqueline Toboni, who plays the always adorable Finley. We talked about what it’s like to work with Rosie, whether or not she’s good at games, and how that scene with Finley and Shane came to be.


Sa’iyda: So I got to watch episode three in advance, which was so fun. Truly, it was such a fun episode. My first question has to be, and this was not originally on my list of questions, but I thought of it earlier, let’s talk about the demo scene.

Jacqueline: Yeah, I can’t believe that wasn’t on your original list of questions.

Sa’iyda: It wasn’t. I was so enraptured by it that it didn’t even register to my brain that like, “Oh, you have to ask about that.”

Jacqueline: It’s actually an interesting story. So Em, who’s our director, they’re awesome, and they were like, “Well, we’re doing a demolition scene. I want to do a little montage.” We’re like, “Okay, what do you mean? Where’s the camera?” You’re asking these technical questions. And they were like, “It’s going to be Magic Mike.” And we were like, “Okay.” And then Kate jokingly said, “Can we play Pony over the speakers?” And Em was like, “100%. We’ll make that happen.” She’s just delighted that we’re even interested in this idea. And so we go outside while they’re setting up and decide to look at a YouTube video of Jenna Dewan doing it on that show where they did—

Sa’iyda: Oh, Lip Sync Battle.

Jacqueline: Lip Sync Battle! And then we watched the original scene and we were like, “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it.” So then we just started doing it and we thought there was no chance it was going to make the episode because it’s so outrageous. We were like, “Whatever. They’ll use it for promo.” It was basically just Kate and I having a lot of fun, and then they worked it in. And I can’t believe it.

Finley and Shane dance like Magic Mike while doing demolition on The L Word: Generation Q

Sa’iyda: How could they not, truly? I was watching it on my laptop with headphones, so all of a sudden when the beat drops, I was like, “Oh God. Oh my God. No, they’re not. They’re going to, they’re not. Oh, it’s happening. It’s happening.” Oh my God.

Jacqueline: Now that it’s a thing, I was like, “Oh my God, I would’ve prepared. I would’ve been better at dancing.” But it’s perfect because it’s just amateur enough to be funny-adorable.

Sa’iyda: It’s so on brand, especially for Finley — that mild awkwardness, but really committing to the bit.

Jacqueline: Yeah. That was the goal.

Sa’iyda: No notes. No notes.

Jacqueline: Okay, great. Happy to hear it.

Sa’iyda: Speaking of fun, what was it like filming the scenes with Rosie O’Donnell? Because they were my favorite part of the episode.

Jacqueline: Oh, that’s nice to hear. It’s a dream come true. I feel like I say that on this show all the time from being a fan of the original and getting to work with Jennifer [Beals] briefly, but Kate [Moennig] and Leisha [Hailey], it’s a dream come true. And then when I heard Rosie was coming on for season three, I was like, “I just need to work with Rosie. I just want to work with Rosie.”

Sa’iyda: Do you feel like she’s one of the most amazing people you’ve ever gotten to be in a space with?

Jacqueline: Oh my gosh. And she’s just such an incredible actor that you catch yourself like, “Oh my, I better step up.” She’s just so generous and present with you and meets you where you’re at. And then as a person. Her, Heidi Sulzman, and I — Heidi plays Misty, and I’ve known Heidi for years, and we just have so much fun together and it’s gone from hanging out on set in our chairs to watching football games together outside of work. So it’s all around just the most fun. And a dream come true.

Sa’iyda: I got the pleasure of interviewing Rosie for a documentary I’m working on, and it was-

Jacqueline: Oh, awesome.

Sa’iyda: It was the best hour or two that we got to just sit and chat with her.

Jacqueline: Isn’t she just the greatest, most charismatic, funny and generous person you’ve ever met? It’s crazy.

Sa’iyda: It’s like hanging out with a cooler version of my mom.

Jacqueline: That’s funny.

Sa’iyda: Because her and my mom are around the same age.

Jacqueline: It feels like hanging out with a cooler, older version of myself. I’m just like, “How do I be you in some years?”

Sa’iyda: Well, I think you’re on the right track. So along those lines, how would you describe the relationship between Finley and Carrie?

Jacqueline: I think a major storyline this season is chosen family. And I think season one was so much about seeing Finley’s shame [about addiction] that a lot of us in the queer community have, but she can’t see it. And then season two was seeing the effect that can have on somebody, and why so many of us struggle with addiction. And then I think season three is: What’s the medicine for that shame? And I think it’s queer role models and seeing a future that you could potentially have, I think is really big for Finley this season — and chosen family. We get into it a little bit more throughout the season and strengthen that relationship. But I don’t know, having someone so open to where you’re at, I think is really special, especially when they’re still a work in progress themselves. I was so delighted to explore that relationship no matter who it was. And then cherry on top of the cake, it was Rosie O’Donnell. It’s like, what?

Sa’iyda: I know, when she walked through the doors, I was like, “Oh my God, this is the duo I didn’t know I needed.” But it felt so right. As soon as she’s like, “Yeah, Tess did say you looked like Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet,” I was like, “Holy yes, yes. That’s the hair, the whole thing.” Yes. I loved it.

Jacqueline: It’s sweet.

Finley and Sophie kiss on The L Word: Generation Q

Sa’iyda: Your answer to that actually leads me perfectly into the next question, which is: It’s very clear that Finley is on a journey right now, and she took what is a pretty huge leap in applying for college. So what do you think that says about her goals and dreams for her future?

Jacqueline: I think she’s trying to figure it out. I think for the first time she’s able to focus on herself. I think something about her personality in general, but also her outlook is in seasons one and two, she’s just living in the present. So she’s not considering a future, whether she doesn’t think she deserves it or whether that’s who she is.

I think she’s finally able to look ahead and decide who she wants to be and what she wants to make her life. Because I think so much of it is just surviving, definitely in one and two. And now she’s looking ahead. So when she gets out of sober living, she makes this list that’s like, “I’m going to get a car. That car will have insurance. I’m going to get benefits.” And then grappling with the real world of how do I make those things happen? And I want to get an apartment and stuff like that, or I want to be on a lease. How do I make those dreams a reality? And is this the right path to that? That’s what everybody says is the right path. Is this good for me?

Sa’iyda: When she was like, “I need a job with benefits.” I was like, “Oh honey, don’t we all.”

Jacqueline: Yeah, come on.

Sa’iyda: Isn’t the goal. And it’s so funny because these are things that are markers of adulthood that we’ve been told, but when you’re living in a stunted version of adulthood, you can’t see the bigger picture. 

Jacqueline: Yeah and you’ve never even given yourself time to figure it out or even think about it.

Sa’iyda: And so along those lines, what was it like stepping back into the world of Finley, especially after how season two ended?

Jacqueline: I was just delighted. I think I’m just so fortunate to get to work with the people I get to work with. It’s really nice to work with Rosanny [Zayas], who plays Sophie, because we’re on our third season now, so we’re just mining for more stuff and it’s getting even more honest and truthful. So that piece of it was really fun. And then obviously working with Rosie and Heidi was very fun. And I don’t know, you root for your own character in this way where you’re like, “Come on, come on. You can do it.” So it’s nice to just take a step forward and not, I don’t know, I don’t want to spoil anything, but just to continue climbing that ladder in a way that where you want to see. And I hope some of it isn’t so terrible. It’s not fun to watch somebody go through [all that Finley has been through].

Sa’iyda: It was painful. It was so painful and in that, “Oh honey,” you just want to hold her and be like, “It’s okay. It’ll be okay. There is another side to this.” So now to see her stepping into that adulthood and starting to figure it out, I was like, “Oh, thank God.” I was so worried.

Jacqueline: For sure. And you don’t usually get to see the actual stuff on television. Not that our show is a teaching tool in any way — but I think we show, at least, the steps you can take. Or even knowing that, “Oh, okay, chosen family or queer role models,  that’s something helpful that people need.” I need, I should speak for myself.

Sa’iyda: No, but I think it’s true. You said, “The show isn’t a teaching tool,” but it is. There’s so many people who are watching it and see themselves or see someone they know or see some version of something or a kernel of something in these characters. So to really show that it’s messy and it’s not perfect. I feel like Finley’s a great example of how to messily stumble through the steps that it takes to get the life that you want.

Jacqueline: And still be shown love by all these people.

Sa’iyda: Right, and compassion. The fact that Shane and Tess were like, “Absolutely not. You always have a job here.” I do have concerns about that, but I’m sure that’ll play out over the course of the season. Should she be working in a bar?

Jacqueline: Working under the watchful eye of my sponsor.

Sa’iyda: Yes, that is true. That is true.

Jacqueline: But I should say no more.

Sa’iyda: The grown up in me is still, the mom in me-

Jacqueline: I know. I think that’s definitely something that people talked about. But she’s been sober for a year, so to us it seems like she’s new to sobriety, but she’s been living in sober living for a year. I don’t know if that helps or anything.

Sa’iyda: It does. I’m still going to be concerned, but that’s just because I’m a mom. That’s what I do. I’m concerned about people. So along those same lines, do you think that there is a version of the story where Finley and Dani can be friends?
Jacqueline: What happens at the end of episode three? Was it tres leches? I don’t want to say anything.

Sa’iyda: I think so, but there is still all of that friction. Dani refuses to work through her end of the friction, so I’m like, “Okay.”
Jacqueline: I think the balls in Dani’s court, I think Finley is wanting forgiveness, obviously from that conversation in episode one at Vegas night.

Sa’iyda: Yes.

Jacqueline: You’re seeing Dani not being ready for that. And so I think the ball is in her court. I hope so. I think it would be really fun to see the gang back together.

Sa’iyda: Yeah, it would be nice.

Jacqueline: But people were still pretty mad about Finley breaking up the wedding.

Sa’iyda: Finley wouldn’t have been able to break up the wedding unless… Let me rephrase that. The only reason Finley was able to break up the wedding is because there were very clearly cracks in the pavement.

Jacqueline: Yeah, big time.

Sa’iyda: It’s not entirely Finley’s fault.

Jacqueline: Fair. I’m with you.

Sa’iyda: I always like to describe Finley as a puppy, that very adorable golden retriever puppy who you’re just like, “Oh, I just want to love you and you have nothing but love to give.”

Jacqueline: That is so funny. That was in the initial casting breakdown.

Sa’iyda: No way.

Jacqueline: Yeah, golden retriever puppy.

Sa’iyda: Oh my God, I love it.

Jacqueline: You’re right on target.

Sa’iyda: Oh, well I’m glad. I have one final question and then I will let you go enjoy the rest of your day. Are you actually good at Pictionary?

Jacqueline: I am just as competitive if that’s helpful. I haven’t played Pictionary in a minute. I’m very good at… Do you play Salad Bowl?

Sa’iyda: No. What’s that?

Jacqueline: So it’s with all the same words, the first round is like Taboo, and then Charades and then One Word. And I’m very good.

Sa’iyda: Oh.

Jacqueline: At that. So I’m good at Pictionary.

Sa’iyda: I’m not a person like that. I wish I could be, but I crack under pressure.

Jacqueline: Are you nervous?

Sa’iyda: Yeah, maybe we can do a game night.

Jacqueline: Yeah. I will get competitive though, so watch out.

Sa’iyda: I’m an Aries, so competitiveness is just in who I am.

Jacqueline: Okay, great. I’m an Aquarius, so it’s not, I don’t think.

Sa’iyda: No, low key maybe — but the strive for perfectionism is a very Aquarian thing.

Jacqueline: Wow. Okay. So I want to be good. So I am good.

Sa’iyda: You’re good. There you go. Well, this has been absolutely delightful.

Jacqueline: Yeah. So nice to meet you.

Sa’iyda: Nice to meet you too.

Jacqueline: Please tell your coworkers at Autostraddle that I did dress up Jughead Jones for Halloween as an homage to the Autostraddle article, but I have no pictures unfortunately.

Sa’iyda: I will post that in the Slack as soon as we get off.


This interview was lightly edited for clarity. 


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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 30 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. Sa’iyda, thanks for the interview and for asking the question whether Finley should work in a bar! I am not convinced that Tess has a watchful eye as a sponsor after the last two episodes, but it seems to confirm that Tess is indeed Finley’s sponsor.
    I loved the notion of Jacqueline seeing Carrie as an older Finley, and I am so happy these two characters meet, talk and bond with one another! Want to see so, so much more of it. Also, I appreciated Jacqueline’s assessment on Finley living in the moment as surviving, maybe not believing she deserves a future, and now thinking about a future she could potentially have. That was so very touching!
    If the writers have more Carrie-Finley storylines that make sense and if they are decent to both characters, I will fall back in love with the show once again <3
    Oh wow, I would have liked to see photos of Jacqueline Toboni as Jughead Jones and am glad the Autostraddle article inspired her Halloween outfit!

  2. Sa’iyda, I’m so delighted you got to interview Jacqueline! To echo the other commenters, I also appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that both of you bring to how you think about this character (and the show).

    I also really like the idea of doing an interview focused on a specific episode, rather than a more general conversation, because I feel like it allows for a level of detail/specificity while also opening up onto the arcs of the show/character as a whole.

    I also think the Pony demo scene probably wouldn’t have worked so well had it been scripted and practiced! There’s one moment where Finley laughs at/with Shane and herself and I feel like you can see the silliness and fun the actors are having together.

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