Michael Walters and Syrus Lowe The Inheritance
On the intersection of being queer and black helping them navigate the world of theatre...
Syrus: I feel like it’s the same as navigating the world. I think there’s a perception of a gay black man and you’re constantly fighting stereotypes, and it’s your responsibility as an artist and human to try and challenge that by creating something new. Or, creating something that’s going against the stereotype. Someone who came to see our show said they were so happy to see a black character as a doctor and another as a lawyer. That made them happy as it wasn’t a negative stereotype. You’ve got to keep asking questions and challenge things. If you don’t think something is being represented in the right way, say it. Have a voice.
Michael: And realise there’s more than one representation. Stereotypes, more times than not, are based on some truth, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is. A black gay man, someone might picture RuPaul in drag, not out. There’s varying degrees of who black people are, and who they are as gay men and women.
A message to young LGBTQ teens of colour wanting to move into the arts...
Syrus: It’s a really exciting time to create at the moment. There are so many platforms available. You can make a film on your iPhone and you’ve got YouTube... go out there and start it. Start it.
Michael: It’s a very DIY generation. Again, you get to a point where you just have to do this yourself, and that’s what you have to do. That’s what I see; people coming up with their own stuff. I have friends who are writing more, creating theatre groups and finding ways to get their voices heard. Amongst actors of colour – and not just gay or straight, but actors of colour – in this country especially... we need to see more. We’re not as surprised to see a black person or Asian in a BBC drama. It’s not a one-off, it’s the norm. We should be at that point now; it’s 2018. There’s no reason why we aren’t there yet.