How the Team Behind Netflix’s ‘Untold’ Reframed the Manti Te’o Girlfriend Hoax



In highschool, Te’o was an all-around star — beloved by these round him and on monitor for a full soccer scholarship at the University of Notre Dame. He was the golden boy in his Hawaii hometown, energetic in his religion and straightforward to get together with.

Then, tragedy struck. His grandma died, then his girlfriend. Both on the similar day.

Te’o, Tuiasosopo and the elaborate 2013 hoax are the topic of a brand new two-part documentary, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist,” directed by Ryan Duffy and Tony Vainuku, out Tuesday on Netflix.

The story of Te’o and his faux girlfriend is a widely known one, however the story of Tuiasosopo — who created the fictional girlfriend as a approach to come to phrases along with her personal gender dysphoria — is much less so. Tuiasosopo has since come out as a transgender lady.

Though audiences might first acknowledge Te’o’s identify, the documentary opens with Tuiasosopo. She takes a central function all through the two episodes, bringing audiences alongside on her journey of self discovery and gender identification — formed partially by her experiences catfishing Te’o.

CNN spoke with Maclain Way, who created the “Untold” collection with brother Chapman, about how the team approached portraying Tuiasosopo’s and Te’o’s journeys as each synchronous and separate.

When we got the news that we’d be able to make more “Untolds” and we’d have a volume two, this was a story that was on our literal and proverbial whiteboard of sports ideas. It’s just always been a white whale in the sports documentary space; it’s something that my brother and I remember very well, just kind of reading the news media on it and all the noise.
We reached out to Naya and just had a fascinating conversation with her. It was probably a call that was only going to be 15, 20 minutes, and we ended up talking to her for two hours. And she ran us through just a remarkable journey that she’s been on, a journey of self-discovery and self-identity and how she identifies as a trans woman.
And then in terms of reaching out to Manti and talking to him, I definitely think a lot of people had approached him about talking about this story over the years. I think there was a pile of documentary pitches sitting in his inbox over the course of the years.
I think we caught Manti at a really interesting time in his life. His NFL career was winding down — I doubt that this would’ve been a story that he would’ve commented on or done a really long form in-depth interview on while he was still active in the NFL. But he’d just gotten married and just had a kid, and I think for both Naya and Manti, neither were quite happy with how the media at large covered this saga back in 2013. I don’t think they wanted that media coverage to be the period at the end of this really long sentence that was a story between these two individuals. And so I think for both of them the opportunity to really interview at length, at deep, about this story was appealing and attractive to them. And for us as filmmakers, that’s when we really knew, “All right, we have something special here. I think we can go make this documentary film.

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