“Am I going to be in the greatest show ever written?” is the question Kevin Daniels asked himself when reading the pilot script for Fox’s new dramedy The Big Leap. The out actor was indeed cast in the novel series, set in a “reality” dance competition and encompassing all the backstage intrigue that entails.
Television fans will no doubt recognize Daniels among The Big Leap’s ensemble cast — from starring in USA’s Sirens to recurring in ABC’s Modern Family, Daniels has been a standout performer in all of his roles. When looking back at his work, Daniels sees the parts of his identity that are in his previous characters, all of which have led to Wayne, an accomplished gay choreographer and a judge of the reality competition at the center of the new series.
From even the earliest episodes of The Big Leap, it’s clear that the characters in the show within a show are imbued with rich backgrounds and storylines that have them fighting for a second chance at their dreams. Redemption is what the series is about.
“Each of the characters in the show’s ensemble cast are connected by this desire to prove themselves and receive a new lease on life,” Daniels says. How they grow and reveal their true selves over the course of the series is the heart of The Big Leap. He teases that the characters the audience meets in episode 1 will surprise everyone with their arcs.
“There are a lot of twists and turns to look forward to,” Daniels says.
Not unlike UnReal did a few years back, the series explores the differences between public and private personas that emerge when one suddenly has a camera trained on them 24/7. Daniels is excited for an audience to see how these characters reveal themselves.
In terms of Wayne’s direction on the series, Daniels is especially excited about his character having been previously married and that his ex is still in the picture. “His partner is a major influence on Wayne’s life and his character arc on the show,” Daniels says, stopping short of revealing if there will be a reconciliation.
He describes his character as “caring, flamboyant, and empathetic,” all traits that are on display during a heartwarming scene early in the season between Wayne and The Fosters’ Teri Polo, who portrays a former ballet dancer. In the scene, Wayne offers her strength and support during a grueling rehearsal that challenges her perfectionism. In this series, even the most opportunistic players can have a heart.
This story is part of The Advocate’s 2021 People of the Year issue, which is out on newsstands November 23, 2021. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.