Dee Rees, the writer-director of the teen lesbian drama Pariah, has said she believes the film has universal appeal, reported.

In the movie, Alike (played by Adepero Oduye), an African-American teen, is living with her conservative parents and sister in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood as she begins to affirm her identity as a lesbian. Alike is especially eager to find love. (Watch the film's trailer at our video library.)

Rees said at a recent press junket in Los Angeles that there are similarities between the film and her own experience coming out.

“It's the emotions I experienced that were the same,” Rees said. “Who I was was not a choice. … I knew this film was a universal story. I'm excited to see it playing out and seeing people respond to it.”

“She has resiliency,” Rees said of the film's main character. “I wanted to show that you can encounter broken relationships but it doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I didn't want her sexuality to be a tragic thing.”

Pariah opened Wednesday in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. A six city expansion – San Diego, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Cambridge, Dallas and Seattle – is scheduled for Friday, January 6.