When Luvia Petersen was in her early 20s, she and her then-girlfriend, Justina Kervel, conceived the idea of a queer-female-owned tattoo shop, having never founded a business before. Twelve years and 18,000 tattoos later, Liquid Amber Tattoo still flourishes.
So when, 10 years ago, Petersen decided that she wanted to become an actress, no one doubted that she’d give it her best. The concern, instead, was that Hollywood wasn’t quite ready for her: the actress’s non-homogenous, non-hetero appearance was a style that rarely showed up on big screens, unless the plot was specifically queer in nature.
Then she landed a major recurring role on the futuristic sci-fi TV drama Continuum.
Airing in more than 50 countries, Continuum is complex, clever and timely. Petersen’s badass bisexual character, Jasmine Garza, moves through time with her fellow freedom fighters, trying to save the universe from a corrupt government. Her collective, known as Liber8, is evocative of Mad Max movies, though Petersen’s character is more of a Sigourney Weaver/Aliens type of hero.
Soon to start Season 3, Petersen is still thrilled to be involved. “It was — and still is — very surreal. I’ll be on set, they’ll be like, ‘Cameras rolling . . . and action!’ and right before I walk into my scene, I’m like, ‘Holy shit, I’m an actor!’ I still have those moments!”
Part of what makes this journey so sweet for Petersen is that she has found a way to remain true to herself while also finding a place in a mainstream entertainment industry.
“When I look back at my external changes, it’s funny because I started out as an obvious tomboy, butchy; I was still doing drag. I then went through a transitional journey. Changing my look was part of my growth, coming to terms with my femininity. I needed the swing of the pendulum. Ironically, I have had to go full circle to come back and play a very tomboy role.”
Off-set, Petersen and co-star Omari Newton have also created a podcast they call the Visible Minority Report. “I’m a minority in disguise. I can walk into a room and nobody knows that I’m a minority, and I have to ‘come out’ every single time to people. When we first started doing it, I was saying, ‘I don’t know if I fit. Do I fit?’ And Omari was saying, ‘Let’s do this and let’s have that conversation.’ It is a great conversation to have.”
Between her TV series, the podcast and the tattoo shop, Petersen remains incredibly busy. Asked about future plans, she smiles broadly and says she’s always looking for life’s next big adventure. “No one ever boasts about climbing a mole hill; they boast about climbing Mount Everest,” she says. “That’s the human challenge. That is what makes things so sweet.”