TO ACT GAY OR TO PLAY A SEX SCENE: WOULD YOU? PART 2
In TO ACT GAY OR TO PLAY A SEX SCENE: WOULD YOU? PART 1 , we looked at Personal beliefs being a factor to consider when faced with a question you may have to answer at one point in your acting career, would you act a sex scene or play as a gay man or woman?
Society’s taboos and perception is another very powerful determining reason of whether an actor will say yes or no to a sex part in Kenya especially, where the society is still quite conservative and where politics and religion play a big part in creating a public opinion. I however am not talking about Nairobi where things are slightly different, but Kenya as a whole. Areas like Kisumu to Nyeri or even Mombasa.
When I was asked to write this article there was a comment on facebook about this subject where someone asked, “How do you convince a man from Nyeri to act a gay part?” I replied that, in most cases, I would have casted an actor who was willing to act the part, no matter where he was coming from. If you are an actor you are an actor, no matter where you are coming from. Of course you are carrying things from your personal background but you have to leave them aside when you get into character.
I know many Kenyan actors will refuse a gay part in a split second just because the society told them that it is wrong to be gay. But at the same time these people will watch an American movie with gay characters in it without any problems! Weird eh? I remember the raging phone calls we received when we released “Mob Doc” in the Kenyan market! The fact that there was a Kenyan man dressed as a woman and acting as a woman (note: he was not even acting as a gay man) it was enough to give the movie an 18+ rating, create a good amount of haters (including famous politicians) but at the same time sold (and still selling) more than 50.000 DVDs, a record number for Kenyan standards! What does this tell you about a society? One word comes to my mind: hypocrisy. So a Kenyan actor has to consider this factor when he/she is thinking to accept/deny a controversial role. If it is just the society’s taboos and perception that will make you say no to a part then think twice before you take your decision. The society can be hypocritical. So long as you are honest to yourself and your loved ones do not let the society decide for you.
However, a society being a society, it can change either slowly or fast but it all depends on us. Films and TV series is something that can help towards that and help the society to open their minds and accept different views easier. But we have to be smart with that. If you provoke the society suddenly with a hard core gay or sex or horror movie we know what will happen in the end. First you will get a nice ban.
Secondly, although you will create a wave of fans, in the same breathe; you will create a bigger wave of haters. So your efforts of trying to change the society will fall in vain. What it needs is to import small amounts of controversy maybe in the beginning through humor and gradually more dramatic so the society will have the time to absorb and gradually accept it. For example a funny and nice gay character (I am not talking about caricatures) can be easier accepted by a nasty and controversial gay character. This is all food for thought for actors or film makers out there who are thinking to create such movies or TV series and they are reluctant of what the society may say. As a reminder however, as a serious actor you should judge your choices according to your career. Acting gay does not make you gay but can help some gays to get accepted by the society, may help a gay teenager to find someone to identify with and feel part of the society. Let us face it: it can be a challenging role for you and help you become a better actor.
In Part 3 of this topic, I will take a look at Money as a determining factor in taking up controversial roles. Till then, keep it real.