Pose­letso Se­josin­goe-Man­dela, Lamoi Leon, Etian Almeida, Matthieu Vine­tot Dis­ney’s The Lion King

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE -

The West End ac­cu­rately rep­re­sent­ing queer peo­ple of colour... Lamoi: I would say yes, and I just moved here from the Caribbean. See­ing that here is so in­spir­ing be­cause that doesn’t ex­ist in the Caribbean at all. I’ve just seen Kinky Boots and Ev­ery­body’s Talk­ing About Jamie. It’s cool to see gay peo­ple, and then Kinky Boots hav­ing a coloured lead is in­spir­ing for me be­ing a black, gay male dancer.

Matthieu: There’s still a lot more work to do, but we’re def­i­nitely on the right track. With Kinky Boots, Jamie, mu­si­cals have friends in Mo­town and Dream­girls, they’re there and rep­re­sented fairly.

Etian: It’s ex­cit­ing times and I would say that 20 years ago we wouldn’t see this hap­pen­ing; a male, black and gay char­ac­ter be­ing a lead. It was un­think­able. Right now, how the di­a­logue is go­ing and the con­ver­sa­tion is hap­pen­ing, it gives you hope for a re­ally good fu­ture of the­atre and the in­dus­try. There’s an open­ing up and the fact it’s hap­pen­ing on the small and big screen – there’s in­flu­ence there. Not ev­ery­one goes to the the­atre, but the movies... it goes into ev­ery­body’s house. Films like Moon­light. It brings a bit of un­der­stand­ing that those is­sues hap­pen in the black gay com­mu­nity scene and it’s nor­mal. It’s fine.

Pose­letso: Hav­ing to work for a com­pany (Dis­ney) that sup­ports gay peo­ple with Pride and all that... a com­pany that is 80% black artists in the pro­duc­tion, be­ing in The Lion King we know we are pro­tected and know we are sup­ported. We feel com­fort­able in the sur­round­ings.

Etian: The land­scape is chang­ing. We see it. We feel it.

Matthieu: We’ve heard it.

On the in­ter­sec­tion of be­ing queer and black help­ing them nav­i­gate the world of the­atre...

Matthieu: I think it re­ally de­pends on what you’re do­ing and what show you’re au­di­tion­ing for. I don’t think my sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion stopped me from get­ting jobs, but be­ing black when you’re au­di­tion­ing for things like Lion King or Aladdin or Mo­town or Dream­girls, the cast is like 70% black so is re­ally help­ful. On a per­sonal level... my sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion has never been part of the process.

Pose­letso: That’s be­cause we call our­selves ‘ac­tors’. You can act be­ing straight, you can act be­ing gay. I can act like a 50 year old woman, but doesn’t mean that when I get in there, I need to lit­er­ally be the woman. It’s about act­ing.

Etian: It’s your tal­ent, your skill, your craft. You should let it speak it­self. While your sex­u­al­ity ori­en­ta­tion mat­ters, it shouldn’t come across.

You’re an artist.

Matthieu: On our level, I don’t think it plays a part. We were talk­ing about the West End, but in the film in­dus­try, it plays a part. Ev­ery­body is in­ter­ested in the sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion of this ac­tor or what they do, but here it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. This is why I said ear­lier that there’s work to do and to be done, but we’re on the right track.

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