I get that typing is very much a thing in the theatre industry. It is important to be cognizant of your type so that you can market yourself effectively. However, at the young age of 20, I am already worried about being pigeonholed as a “gay actor.” The two major credits I have garnered for myself outside of school have been gay-centric shows. I am about to play a flamboyant, fabulous queen of a character in Romance, and most of the roles I find myself in callbacks for feature the word “gay” in the character breakdown. Before I go any farther, I must say that I have been and continue to be beyond thankful and consider myself incredibly lucky to have had these opportunities. Nevertheless, I can’t help but worry a bit for the future.
My queerness or whatever you want to call it is a large part of my identity, but I would never say that it is what defines me. If someone were to ask me to tell them about myself, queer would probably be the ninth or tenth descriptor after things such as a theatre artist, passionate, fashion-conscious, thin, strikingly gorgeous (just kidding); you get the point. However, a part of me fears that if a stranger were to ask a friend of mine, “Who is Will?” the first thing out of their mouth would be “my gay friend.” I might be overly sensitive to this after devising a show my freshman year about the duality of sexuality and identity as separate, yet intrinsically connected topics. To quote our very popular tagline, I am so much more than who I fuck.
I think it is fairly obvious that I will never play Gaston or an overtly masculine character, because that is not the energy or aura I exude. But I would be offended if I were told that my range is limited to only gay characters. I think that a vicious upper east sider or an awkward, shy teenager are types that are well within my abilities, but they don’t have to be gay for me to access who that person is. I firmly believe that an actor needs to find where a character intersects with himself to perform with any notion of honesty, but, believe it or not, I’ve had a lot of life experiences that have nothing to do with being queer. I would say the same must be true for any gay actor in this city.
It’s very possible that I’m over-reacting to this whole situation and that it won’t become an issue, but I’m interested in how events will unfold over the next several years. Conversely, there are plenty of actors who make a ton of money by filling one particular niche. Would I be okay with being the token gay guy? It seems like that life would be far better than one where I don’t have a successful career at all. Things to think about…
Time to plot when and how I can play Peter Pan! … And make a list of things that I can do to stop being a stereotype of myself…
Stay hot and keep it messy,