Stacey Dash sounds like a potential dream candidate for Democrats.
The daughter of an African American father and Mexican mother, she grew up in the Bronx, moved to Hollywood and starred in films and television shows before becoming an outspoken political commentator.
Now the actor who made her name in the film Clueless is running for Congress on the promise of delivering radical change to a gritty, largely Latino and black district in Los Angeles.
There’s a twist: Dash is a Republican. A conservative Republican who lauds Donald Trump and backs his views on race and his plan to build a border wall. She hopes to help him rebuff a blue wave in November’s midterm elections and hopes he will endorse her next week when he makes his first visit to California as president.
“I believe it would be helpful because he’s representing the people that I want to represent and that’s the working class.”
Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. Photograph: Paramount/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar
“I want to be a catalyst for change,” she told the Guardian in an interview on Thursday hours after filing her application to run. “I was a Fox News contributor for quite some time and I’m just done talking. I want to start doing.”
The actor’s to-do list is bold, if light on policy specifics. “I want change to the human condition, specifically in the district in which I’m running. They need to be given the opportunity to achieve their God-given right, which is the American dream.”
She wants to curb crime, improve education, create jobs and, above all, demolish the “psychological prison” which convinces inner city voters to back Democrats. “I want to listen to what the people have to say and go and fight for them.”
It is a quixotic bid.
Dash is a political outcast in liberal Hollywood, scorned for saying Black History Month should be abolished and that transgender people should pee in the bushes and waxing lyrical about the Mad Men era when “men were men”.
Roles still trickle in – she played a mayor in Sharknado: The 4th Awakens – but her career has suffered, she said. “You’re tolerated only if you fit their liberal profile. I’ve been blacklisted. I don’t even get to auditions.”
To be a conservative in Hollywood can be lonely, she said, but so be it. “Because I’m black I’m supposed to therefore be a Democrat, which is absurd. They’re supposed to be the party of tolerance. I don’t see any tolerance. I’ve made a choice to stand up for what I believe in and don’t think I should be condemned.”
Electoral politics may prove bruising.
The 44th district in south LA is a Democratic stronghold which includes Compton, Watts and San Pedro. It voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and has a Democratic incumbent, Nanette Barragán, as well as a Democratic challenger, Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton.
In a three-way race between women of colour Dash faces a formidable task in getting past June’s primary election and making it onto the ballot for November’s mid-terms.
“Her chances of making a credible bid are about equal to Trump’s chances of winning the Nobel Prize in physics,” said Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College.
Stacey Dash in Los Angeles Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian
Dash, 51, is undaunted. This, after all, is the era of GOP outsiders upending conventional wisdom. “I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I could win,” she said. “I plan on breaking out of the box. I want to shake the tree, rock the boat. I want to free people from the shackles of a plantation mentality.”
Trump’s foray next week – he is due to attend a fundraiser in Beverly Hills and inspect wall prototypes outside San Diego – comes amid rising tension between the federal government and California’s Democratic leaders over undocumented migrants.
Dash supports the wall and enforcement of immigration laws but declined to opine about recent Ice raids on businesses which employ undocumented workers. “I’m not here to judge. Only God can do that.”
She defended the president’s explosive comments last year drawing moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville. “The anti-fascists were just as violent.”
She also downplayed his “grab them by the pussy” comments on the Access Hollywood tape. “It was just talk. Now we’re finding out that a lot of liberals have been doing far worse.”
Dash, who was sexually abused, has praised the #MeToo movement but accused celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey of turning a blind eye to Harvey Weinstein’s alleged predations.
Embracing Trump may be a kamikaze move in a deep-blue district but Dash, flanked by a personal assistant, campaign manager and media adviser, said she was serious about getting to Washington and that 400 people had already volunteered to support her nascent campaign.
Pitney, the analyst, said Hispanic voters would almost certainly doom Dash’s Congressional dream, notwithstanding her profile. “As long as the stench of Donald Trump is on the party, celebrities will do it little good in California.”
Dash shrugged off scepticism, saying she was used to long odds.
She had a troubled upbringing – both parents had addiction problems – and fought her way to Hollywood where she racked up TV roles – The Cosby Show, CSI: Criminal Scene Investigation and the series Clueless, a spin-off from the film.
Originally a Democrat, Dash voted for Barack Obama in 2008, then recoiled, she said, upon realising Obama was a “socialist” and a “divider”, views that landed her a Fox News panel slot until her contract ended last year.
God, she said, guids her life. “To me faith is everything – believing in my lord and saviour Jesus Christ.” Come June, she will learn if voters believe in her.