Representation matters. Individuals and communities have a need to be “seen.” That resonates for me. To be seen. To feel seen. But people do not only want to be seen the way others define them, they want to be seen for who they are — for how they define themselves. As an actor, host and filmmaker, I share


oing so authentically and allowing for the vulnerable truth to be expressed ultimately represents these characters and narratives in a way that can resonate with the audiences, no matter how my audiences identify. It is ultimately all about the human experi-

ence and proving how when we see each other for who we are, we can connect with each other. Representation matters. For too long in my career as an actor, I was told to keep mystery about me, to adapt and change who I am, and even to hide who I am. Insert the word “closet” here. Many in the industry even suggested that I change my name because it is too different. This line of thinking was shared by agents, managers, casting directors, acting coaches, producers . . . that my being gay/bi and being Jewish were things that could deter me from succeeding in the mainstream. What was wrong about my sharing who I am and openly being who I am? Who I am affects what I do, and that means that who I am is brought into every role I play — I mean, how could I not if I am the actor playing a role. I use everything in my toolbox, and that includes my training, skills, abilities and identity. I was “othered.” And, when I was auditioning, booking and playing

narratives and characters. I want my characters to be seen. I want to give my audiences an inside perspective into the characters and share their authenticity. I not only present the narratives and the characters, I represent them. Every element of this work is a form of representation. Representation

roles that were gay or bi and that were Jewish, sometimes those same people would say that I am not gay enough or Jewish enough. What does that mean? It means they wanted to see a stereotype. It means they wanted me to play a character the way they thought “the mainstream” would want to see that character. Representation matters. It is important to present a character and

that character’s narrative with that character’s truth. It is an opportu- nity to teach an audience how that character wants to be seen. When this is done, an audience can identify with that character and learn about those identities. And, if an audience is of that same identity, it makes them feel seen and represented. So, I took pride in being me and not hiding who I am. Sometimes

this worked to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment. What most often would happen is that I played characters who were “the other.” Because I also speak multiple languages and specialize in accents, this enhanced my cast-ability as a foreigner — as the foil character who contrasts with the other characters. Now, I am not complaining, because I was able to work. I learned how to maneuver within the industry, and I was lucky to work a lot. Sometimes I did take the advice to be mysterious and judicious

JANUARY 2021| @theragemonthly 15

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