BY Michael Fairman
October 19 2009 1:30 PM ET
The woman behind the man…. who comes out!
You fall for a good-looking cop, he seems like the man of your dreams... but there is one small problem: You’re a straight woman and he is a closeted gay man.
For months, that is the predicament Layla Williamson found herself in, until she wised up and realized that Officer Oliver Fish was hiding… behind her. One Life to Live’s Tika Sumpter was integral to the show's coming-out story, which spotlighted openly gay actor Scott Evans. Tika’s unlucky in love alter ego Layla seems to have had a penchant for picking unavailable men, straight or gay. So what did Tika think of One Life’s coming-out plot?
“I thought it was a brilliant story. I felt like we built our relationship in a way that people would believe that Layla did not know Fish was gay. I did not want to play dumb. I think she did not want to believe it, even if all the signs were there. I think she believed she fell in love with a really good guy who treated her well. She has never had a successful relationship, and she finally found a guy who she wanted to be with and who wanted to be with her, or so she thought. I was happy for Scott Evans [Fish], and I loved working with him. I knew it would reach a lot of people, so it was worth all the tears Layla and I had to shed.”
This soap scenario is one that many gay men may have found themselves in… trying to make a “go” of it with a beautiful girl to protect their image. So how was it for Tika to play the rejected girlfriend? Uncomfortable!
“For a woman to have to chase a man to be sexual with her, it’s kind of degrading in a way, and it's like, Wow. He does not want me. What’s the problem? So imagine for a woman in real life to chase after somebody and that somebody did not want to be with you sexually. One would take it so personal and it’s a rejection. It is a human story.”
When the big moment arrived last month, Fish admitted to Layla and their very machismo roomie Cristian Vega that he was gay, and then had to do the same to his nonaccepting parents. The actress says it really was an amazing experience to shoot those scenes.
“All those tears were as real as real could be; listening to the words he was saying. It just touched me because I felt like so many people have probably gone through that. Imagine a parent denying a child? For someone to have to deny who they are for a long time is pretty harsh. So listening to Scott in the scenes was heartbreaking. I was there and it was raw. At the end of the scene, there was dead silence in the studio.”