21 Out Actors of Color Hollywood Should Cast as Leading Men
By Adam Sandel
21 Out Actors of Color Hollywood Should Cast as Leading Men
When it comes to mainstream movies, Hollywood has a terrible track record of casting LGBT people of color in leading parts. Scripts centering on black, Latino, or Asian stories are few and far between, and when these movies do get made, the main roles are usually cast with movie stars who identify as straight.
As #OscarsSoWhite demonstrated, Hollywood must do better. Since change happens one part at a time, here are some suggestions of gay, bisexual, and otherwise out male actors of color who can headline the next big blockbuster. Listening, casting directors?
This gender-fluid actor played Angelique on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful and was a standout in the otherwise unfortunate film Stonewall. He’ll soon bring his enigmatic charm to the films Thirsty, Fog City, and Black Wake.
There’s more to the queen of drag than sissying that walk. In addition to many female roles (including a guidance counselor in two Brady Bunch films), the RuPaul's Drag Race star has played male roles in films such as But I’m a Cheerleader and The Truth About Jane, and on TV’s Nash Bridges and Ugly Betty.
The out actor and singer became an international star on the telenovelas Clase 406 and Rebelde, which spun off the Latin pop group RBD that skyrocketed him to musical fame. RBD earned a slew of awards, including four Billboard Latin Music Awards and a 2011 GLAAD Media Award.
The many credits of this affable actor and LGBT activist include My So-Called Life, Party of Five, Noah’s Arc, and Red Band Society as well as the films Party Monster and He’s Just Not That Into You. He’s ready to graduate from gay best friend and coworker roles to leading man.
The actor followed his Oscar-nominated role as the transgender Dil in 1992’s The Crying Game with a turn as the gender-fluid sun god Ra in the 1994 film Stargate. He’s since left Hollywood for the fashion world, but in this more inclusive era, it may be time to lure him back.
His TV credits include Chappelle’s Show, Mercy, and Weeds, and he currently stars as Huck on Scandal. In anOut interview, he said, "I went to school in the Bronx. I learned to constantly try to cover up the fact that I was gay. That facade of being somebody I'm really not just to protect myself definitely helped with acting."
This handsome multihyphenate talent wrote, directed, and appeared in the gay-themed comedy films Dirty Laundry, The Ski Trip, Friends & Lovers: The Ski Trip 2, and he’s appeared in the television series version of Friends & Lovers.
The gay Indian stand-up comic has shown off his talents on MTV, VH1, NBC, and Fox. In a Huffington Post op-ed, he said, “I'm one of the first out gay South Asian comics, and I know that I will not be the last, because amidst the jokes and laughter, I know that I can and will inspire someone else -- an LGBT person, a South Asian, or anyone who's never seen someone like himself on television before.”
Having appeared on Broadway in Flower Drum Song, Pacific Overtures, Rent, and Godspell, Leung made a TV splash as a Dalton Academy Warbler on Glee. He recently returned to Broadway to star in the musical Allegiance opposite Lea Salonga and gay icon George Takei.
Before he was “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” the gay heartthrob (and former Menudo member) proved his acting chops on the TV soap General Hospital and on Broadway in Les Miserables. His post coming-out acting gigs have included Glee and a return to Broadway as Che in the 2012 revival of Evita.
Best known as Glee’s first transgender character, Unique Adams, Newell also appeared in the film Geography Club. He told the Los Angeles Times, “Hollywood will accept gays and put them on TV, but there's usually a sense of masculinity. That’s why you have straight men playing gay characters.”
The musical theater vet and recording artist’s Broadway credits include Grease, Miss Saigon, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and his Tony Award-winning performance in Kinky Boots. His TV gigs include Another World and Law & Order,but film fans may best remember him from the gay romantic comedy The Broken Hearts Club.
The gay star of the Off-Broadway musical Here Lies Love and Broadway’s Tony-winning revival of The King and I currently appears as the gay love interest Oliver Hampton on ABC’s steamy series How to Get Away With Murder. Let’s hope there’s more in store for this cute geek-hot guy who sings like an angel. In an interview with Plus magazine, Ricamora has also spoken about the perils of stigmas in media regarding sexuality and safe sex: “If sex is continually regarded as a taboo in this country, then that means more people are going to make less smart decisions.”
This Broadway vet and cabaret star hit it big on Bravo’s Emmy-winning series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. His many credits include a series regular role opposite Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin in Malibu Country and one on on the gay-friendly series Eastsiders. This actor-singer-dancer is more than ready for his close-up.
The out gay breakout star of TV’s smash hit Empire, who plays the out gay Jamal Lyon, is set to appear opposite Michael Fassbinder in Ridley Scott’s upcoming Alien: Covenant. But the charming singing actor could easily headline his own film.
Best known for his role as Chance opposite Darryl Stephens on the Logo series Noah’s Arc, Spearman has many film and TV credits, including the film Any Day Now with Alan Cumming. He’s written, produced, and directed the gay-friendly film Hot Guys With Guns and the upcoming From Zero to I Love You.
The Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good writer and the gay star of Beyond the Lights, Noah's Arc, and Boy Culture has said, “I do think that as Hollywood’s and America’s view of gays and understanding continues to evolve, we all will be given the opportunity to play so many different characters.”
Having appeared as a young singer struggling to come out in the film Blackbird, opposite Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington, Walker has also become a prominent voice for HIV awareness. In a cover story for Plus magazine, Walker stated, “Go get tested and continue to have safe sex. You have to protect yourself, because you never know what may happen.”
After earning a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly, the San Francisco native has appeared in films including Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, and as a series regular on TV’s Oz, Awake, Law & Order: SVU, and as Hugo Strange on Gotham. His surprise appearance on USA's Mr. Robot in an LGBT role was also one of the most memorable moments of the critically acclaimed show's first season.
The stand-up comedian has made a name for himself addressing issues like homophobia and growing up as a gay Indian American in venues like the Comedy Store. But Dodani, who has appeared in The Comeback and The Player, is also setting Hollywood on fire with a role in the upcoming Marisa Tomei film, Behold My Heart.
Known for roles in I Am Michael, The Skinny, and The Mindy Project, the actor has said, “I think it’s important for black gay actors to continue to play the gay role, but because we have the label of actor, we also need to show ‘them’ that we can do just as much, if not more, even playing the straight roles.”