Reasons for Pride: Everyone Loves Rex Lee

Rex Lee gets down and dirty about sex, love, feminism, and living in Suburgatory.



Suburgatory has this wonderful, subversively feminist nature that’s encapsulated in Tessa’s independence and even in some of Mr. Wolfe’s growing tendency to stand up for himself. Who’s behind that?
Well, you know, my boss is a woman — Emily Kapnek, and I’m not going to say the entire writing staff is female, because they’re not. I don’t think that she’s in anyone’s face about not being misogynistic and being pro-woman. … But she’s a strong woman, and I think she leads by example. And therefore, I just think that any writer or actor is going to bring some sort of thought process or storyline or performance or any of those things — no one’s going to bring something that’s antiwomen.

Looking back to some of your other roles, do you ever think Lloyd [from Entourage] and Mr. Wolfe would hang out or be friends?
[Laughs] I don’t think that Lloyd is a snob, exactly, but I think that Lloyd probably wouldn’t have patience for Mr. Wolfe. I think Mr. Wolfe is a little bit innocent in a way that Lloyd is not. Lloyd is really trying to be a man of the world and get ahead in business, and in his own way, he’s a little bit cutthroat.

Did you ever worry about the impact being an out actor might have on your career?
I certainly worried about it. I worried about it, but that worry was never going to be anything that made me do anything differently than I have. I come from a school of thinking and a school of acting that’s all about honesty. I’m just the kind of person that there was really no way I was going to be able to be in the closet and be happy. There was no way I was going to be able to be in the closet and be productive, be effective. It just wasn’t going to work. I didn’t come out to my parents until I was in my 20s. I know what it’s like to be in the closet, and it takes a lot of energy. And I don’t have enough energy to devote to that. I’d rather just be honest with people. And I’ve certainly run into people in the world who don’t appreciate me because I’m gay, but I have no need for them in my life.

Are there unique hurdles you’ve had to overcome as a gay Asian actor?
Well, maybe. [Laughs] I think that a person’s own thinking about themselves and their place in the world is significant, so I’ve definitely had to deal with myself. And then in terms of living in this artificial community that I’ll call Hollywood, it certainly comes up. … I think that the reason that we have this discussion is because Asian people and gay people are probably underrepresented. If you think about how many people exist, and the percentage of those people who are gay or Asian, or gay and Asian, I think we’re underrepresented. … To a certain extent that there’s been a bit of a lack of imagination, and this weird idea that people in the United States are only straight white people. That’s certainly something we have to combat, and therefore it’s something that I have come in contact with, and have had to overcome. So it certainly exists.