I first met Selina Ringel in Los Angeles through the LA Jewish Federation’s entertainment division for young professionals. Immediately, the writer-actress struck me as an ambitious go-getter. We connected on social media but never stayed in touch.
Fast-forward ten years: I’m a single mother by choice (SMC)—and so is she. Well, sort of. Through Instagram and Facebook, she proudly announced her debut feature on HBO Max, “Single Mother By Choice,” as a dream come true. The fictional film, directed by and co-written with her husband, Dan Levy Dagerman, follows the pregnancy of an aspiring SMC, Eva Garcia, played by an actually pregnant Ringel.
That go-getter attitude I remembered in Ringel was evident in the workaholic character she created, so I thought now was as good a time as any to catch up with her on more than just social media.
“She’s a version of me, but I like writing characters that are me, and I take parts of me and then make the character fully that part,” said Ringel, 31, in a video call from her home in Sherman Oaks, a day before a trip to Mexico to visit her parents who couldn’t be part of their grandson’s birth and newborn years due to COVID travel restrictions.
Thanks to her Mexican Jewish father and American Jewish mother, Ringel is bilingual. It’s the Spanish-speaking “Latinx” (the gender-neutral term Ringel uses)part rather than the Jewish part that is showcased in the film, although in real life, Ringel loves holding Shabbat dinners with friends, COVID permitting. She also credits her time with the Jewish Federation for creating a community that supported her career.
There’s a part of her that also would’ve been happy being a single mom. Eva, a talent manager, describes her reasoning for going solo in the opening scene: “I’m smart. I’m reliable. I’m productive and I want a baby and I’m not going to wait for—what—some idiot man to break my heart and ruin my child? I’m sorry.”
“I feel lucky I found a partner,” Ringel told the Journal, “but I cared more to be a mom than I cared to have a partner.”
“Single by Choice” morphed from a movie about a solo-pregnancy into a chronicle of a pandemic pregnancy. As such, the film is a COVID “period piece,” one reason, Ringel said, HBO Max was attracted to the film. It’s among the first films set during the pandemic, partly because it was filmed in real-time during the lockdown as well as during spring 2020’s “Black Lives Matter” protests. We see Eva drive through West Hollywood as the protests unfold, but, although she supports the cause, she hesitates to join them out of COVID health concerns. So while most productions were shut down for the first half of 2020, Ringel and her partner stayed hard at work.
Ringel and Levy Dagerman quickly adapted the script to include the COVID “zombie apocalypse” (as Ringel describes it) and …….