Whether you work in Hollywood or you consume the content it provides, you’re aware of the evolving industry and its progressive efforts toward more inclusivity. At this year’s SDCC 2020 “LGBTQ Characters on Television – What’s Next?” panel, moderated by Jim Halterman (TV Guide magazine), everyone participating gave a brilliant nugget of truth and light when speaking about their current and former roles. Panelists included Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time), Jamie Clayton (Roswell: New Mexico), Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery), Tatiana Maslany (Perry Mason), Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery), J. August Richards (Council of Dads), Harry Shum, Jr. (Shadowhunters), and Brian Michael Smith (9-1-1: Lone Star).
Check out highlights from the “LGBTQ Characters on Television – What’s Next?” panel below.
Jamie Chung on playing the first queer version of a Disney princess on television.
“I was really grateful to play that choice that secretly everyone was really rooting for. It felt right and real and fluid. It was really important for us to share that story.”
Wilson Cruz has always taken pride in the work that he’s done.
“I got to let a generation or two know that they’re valued, their experience was seen and understood and we want to see more of them.”
Anthony Rapp on what he would like to see more of on television.
“I think a lot of queer, people of color need to be added to TV… all of the tropes about the queer experience were about despair, tragedy, death, shame, and in the closet and that is certainly part of some people’s experiences, but there’s so much more to tell than that.”
J. August Richards “came out” before he took the role as an honest black, gay man.
“If I was going to play this role and I aspire to do a certain level of work, then I was going to have to bring all of my experiences to the table and be able to talk very specifically about the intersection of being a black man and a gay man through the world and in the South.”
Tatiana Maslany on how playing a LGBTQ character changed her life.
“Being able to connect with fans that were finally seeing themselves on screen because of Cosima and finally being able to talk to their parents about who they are was really eye opening to me.”
Brian Michael Smith on how to make an impact when given the opportunity to have input in the writer’s room.
“Let the audience forget and only talk about it unless we need to talk about it. They can just walk in my shoes., It doesn’t really need to come up until it comes up.” As Smith states, this point of view is exactly how he lives his real life every day.
Harry Shum Jr. on taking on responsibility in his role and speaking up when needed.
“We wanted to be able to really go there and have conversations about sexuality. What was important to me as an actor was making sure that those stereotypes that are had, toward specifically, bisexual characters, was that it wasn’t about being promiscuous and not being able to have a good relationship.”
Jamie Clayton on the consequences of not having that LGBTQ representation or, at the very least, an ally in the room when making bigger decisions.
“Actors that are trans have only been able to audition for roles that are only trans. I’ve been told I wasn’t trans enough.” She goes on to say that having more people on set who are also trans, from the lighting person to the production assistant, will also help with trans actors not feel so isolated in an industry that is just now learning how to be more inclusive.
Check out the “LGBTQ Characters in Television – What’s Next” panel in its entirety, below!