Alicia Rodis (center left) with director Susanna White on location for The Deuce
Alicia Rodis has worked as an actor for more than 20 years, and she knows how uncomfortable it can be to perform an intimate scene in front of a crew or an audience.
There were times, she reflects, when "It just felt like something that I had to do and get through, because if I didn't want to do it, there were hundreds, thousands of actors that would."
No one should feel like they have to "get through" an intimate scene, which is why, in 2015, well before the Time's Up movement began, Rodis cofounded Intimacy Directors International (IDI). The nonprofit represents intimacy coordinators, who work as liaisons between actors and directors in television, film and theater to ensure that such scenes are handled in a professional and respectful manner.
Producers of HBO's The Deuce, which depicts the early days of the porn industry in New York City, became the first in television to hire Rodis as an intimacy coordinator.
Responding to cast member Emily Meade's request for an advocate on set, Rodis — who also has a background as a fight director, movement director and stunt performer — quickly made herself invaluable to the cast and the entire production team.
"A few months later, as we continued into production on The Deuce, executives from HBO came to me and said, 'We want this on every set,'" Rodis relates. Now IDI coordinators work on many HBO series, including Westworld, Euphoria and The Undoing.
As an intimacy coordinator, Rodis meets with showrunners and directors prior to each shoot to find out what they're looking for in a particular scene. She then discusses that information with the actors, and once everyone is on the same page, Rodis talks to the costume department to ensure the proper barriers are ready.
The day of the shoot, she is on set to facilitate communication between the actors and director. "We've found, especially on The Deuce, that when the actors know someone has their back and is advocating for them, people can relax and do their best work," Rodis says.
One day, having an intimacy coordinator on set will be the norm in television, Rodis predicts. "We can no longer ignore the power-dynamic issue and that we haven't always done our best," she says. "Innovation is finding a better, more efficient way to work. Full stop."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2019