I have a big challenge ahead of me. I've booked the lead role in "Learn To Be Latina", a play that will open at San Diego's Diversionary Theatre on November 19th. To say that I'm a bundle of nerves and excitement is an understatement. The dialogue is wordy, the momentum of the comedy is very quick-paced and I'm on the stage for 99% of the full-length play. Phew.
The play itself is laden with farcical, sardonic humor as well as 80's references that make my inner child nostalgic. Within the farce is a strong social commentary which is smart and honest. The icing on the cake: I'm playing a pop star! A pop star on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune. A pop star who happens to be Lebanese. A pop star who also happens to be...a lesbian.
I think the nerves stem from my parents in my head more than anything else. They're pretty conservative and while I've really helped open their minds over the years, their daughter playing a lesbian role would be hard for them to wrap their brains around. I, personally, had my own hesitations initially. I'm never one to take roles that blatantly sell sex in a gratuitous manner as it is. If the character's sexuality is pertinent to the story line, that's different, as is the case with this particular young woman. She goes through so much over the course of 120 pages, and it's a great layer for her to peel back in order to discover who she truly is inside.
As I was mulling it over, I thought about other actors who played gay roles, and gave brilliant performances. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Brokeback Mountain', Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and James Franco in 'Milk', Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci in 'Monster', Collin Ferrel in 'A Home At the End of the World' to name a few.
Ultimately, what's the point of being an actor if we can't play roles that stretch our own minds beyond their confines? I love this craft because it allows me to be a chameleon and take on the shape of new people with every script. This is just one more color to add to my growing palate of characters.
(Please note that in no way is this post meant to be offensive in any nature. It's really just an honest inner dialogue that I wanted to share with you all as I feel that other actors can relate.)