Hisham Abed Interview: ‘Queer Eye’ director
“The look of the show is always aimed to be authentic, so if anything feels off or produced, it just doesn’t have a place,” Hisham Abed tells Gold Derby in his exclusive interview (watch the video above) about directing the “Queer Eye” reboot. He notes that what surprised him about the show was “how quickly a simple conversation can get so deep and so real and so heartfelt and that any one of the Fab Five is capable of doing that” and “how beautifully emotional the stories that we tell can be.” Abed explains about how shooting handheld fosters this environment, “The handheld energy is something that underscores that authenticity and it helps us move quickly and silently and we’re less encumbered by things like a tripod or a dolly that you might have on a scripted show or even some competition shows.”
If anyone knows how bring out authenticity in reality television, it is Abed, having been at the helm of several landmark shows of the genre that have upended the television landscape. He was the main cinematographer for “Laguna Beach,” the producing director of its spin-off “The Hills,” the original director of the blockbuster “Duck Dynasty” and a lead director on the Emmy-nominated “Off Their Rockers.” He is a two-time nominee for Best Reality Directing at the Directors Guild of America Awards, but was ineligible to vote at the Emmys when they introduced an equivalent category last year because the Television Academy had not yet invited him to join their membership, which numbers 24,000. Abed is now celebrating an Emmy nomination for the “Queer Eye” episode “Black Girl Magic” in the Best Reality Directing race.
Abed directed the complete third and fourth seasons, which Netflix released in 2019, taking over from the uncredited directing by showrunner Jennifer Lane on the first two seasons, for which Abed was unavailable. Mark Perez, who worked with Abed and Lane on “Laguna Beach,” is directing the fifth and sixth seasons of “Queer Eye” that are in production now, as Abed has returned to “Encore!,” which Disney+ is reviving. “It’s a fun show and it also has great emotional components to it,” Abed says about the reality program that sees adults recreate their high school musicals.