Tag Archives: Shuana Cross

Interview: Drew Barrymore and Shauna Cross on Whip It (2009)

Photo by Darren Michaels
Photo by Darren Michaels

A few Texas hearts got broken when it was announced that Whip It, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut set in Austin’s Roller Derby community, was filming around Detroit. But whatever the location, scriptwriter and derby player Shauna Cross said, “It’s a total love letter to Austin” – and to its derby girls.

Austin and its derby scene are as much the film’s stars as Juno‘s Ellen Page. She plays reluctant pageant queen Bliss Cavendar from Bodeen, Texas, who straps on her skates to become Babe Ruthless, the ass-kicking jammer for the Hurl Scouts banked-track Roller Derby team. Before signing on as producer and then director, Barrymore’s derby experience was restricted to a montage/homage sequence in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. She explained, “I knew that the sport had different evolutions of being real and being staged, but I didn’t know about the new revolution of these leagues cropping up across the nation until I met Shauna.”

That would be former Austinite Shauna Cross, aka Maggie Mayhem of the L.A. Derby Dolls and a part of that modern derby revolution. Quick recap: In 2001, a group of Austin women joined together to revamp the lost sport of Roller Derby, a mash-up of speed skating and rugby. After a major internal rift in 2003 (well recorded in Bob Ray’s rink-rash-and-all documentary Hell on Wheels), they split into the banked-track TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls and the flat-track Texas Rollergirls. Both leagues have remained the godmothers of women’s Roller Derby, now at roughly 400 skater-run and skater-owned leagues internationally and counting. Although Whip It concentrates on a semifictionalized version of TXRD, Cross said: “I was really scared about the whole flat-track/banked-track thing. There are more girls that skate flat track, and I hoped that they would be supportive or at least see that it’s still great both ways and not feel left out.”

Continue reading Interview: Drew Barrymore and Shauna Cross on Whip It (2009)