For actor and star of cult TV series Noah's Arc, Darryl Stephens is all too aware of the problems of typecasting in Hollywood. And for a show that focuses on socially relevant issues like stereotyping and homophobia, it’s a case of art imitating life.
By
Jerico Mandybur

1 Mar 2016 - 1:26 PM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2016 - 9:53 AM

Ahead of NITV's screening of the hit US 'dramedy' starring gay African American and Latino actors, we see what Noah himself (Darryl Stephens) has to say on the state of queer representation and race in Hollywood, when speaking to the LA Times

Just as Australia has a shocking lack of Indigenous or multicultural gay people in the spotlight (Casey Conway, Faustina Agolley and Benjamin Law being some notable exceptions), the US has a long way to go in embracing the LGBTIQ community in ALL its richness.

On being a gay black actor:

"You can be one or the other. You can be black or you can be gay. You can't be both. We can't confuse America. That's too much for them to stomach. So, the progress of the LGBT movement in Hollywood can be moved along as long as the face of the gay movement is white men."

On turning down stereotypical roles:

"I was so offended that they thought this was a worthwhile role to introduce the first black gay character to their lily-white show because all he was doing was chasing this white boy around. There are things that I am not going to do. I will not represent that for you. Because, no."

On straight black actors not playing gay:

"There's the assumption that black folks are more homophobic than other folks. I don't think that's true, but I think we are aware of limits this culture places on us as black men. We have 15 seconds to get our foot in the door and if we don't, we're in the dark forever. Black actors are very aware that they have to work hard at remaining commercially viable.

"In order to be appealing as a black man, we have to maintain this hypermasculinity. It's a matter of our own cultural hangups [both black culture and American culture] as well as lack of access to varied roles that keeps us locked in this fear of presenting anything that is not hypermasculine."

On the importance of seeing oneself reflected on TV:

"It's so important for marginalised communities to see themselves on TV because we're so used to being invisible and not understanding our place in the world because all we're seeing is the images that white supremacy is presenting to us. We need to begin to see black people presented more honestly. We can't be marginalised in life and then marginalised on TV as well."

On the future of diversity in Hollywood:

"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. We've already seen it happen with the white actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer. I think it's a question of when will the black faces be invited to that party."

Noah’s Arc follows the lives of four gay men looking for love and signs of intelligent life in West Hollywood.

Watch the first episode on NITV from March 4 @ 8:30PM