On my way to the gym this morning, Larry (creator/director of DTLA The Series) called to tell me he had shown one of my scenes to a close friend of his. Without even having seen the rest of the series, his friend cried, apparently moved by the honesty of the performances. The scene, which was particularly pivotal to my character’s arc, was also extremely personal to me. While we were shooting it, I really felt like I was sharing a moment from my own life. Hearing that his friend was moved to tears by this particular scene was extremely touching... and affirming. I walked into the gym thinking, ‘See? I AM a good actor!’ (Yes, we really are bottomless pits of insecurity and we need constant reassurance.)
Twenty minutes later, a tall man walked up to me while I was in between sets on the fly machine. I plucked out my earbuds and smiled, assuming from his kind eyes that he was a fan. Byron apologized for bothering me and proceeded to tell me that he was a cop (one of LA’s Finest) and that he and his husband absolutely loved Noah’s Arc. He said that his husband ‘looked up to’ my character in particular, which lead me to believe that he was probably the gentler of the two. Then Byron told me that three years ago, his husband died in a car accident, much like the one at the end of the second season... which knocked the wind right out of me. I wasn’t prepared for that twist at all. He kept talking and found myself sitting there on the fly machine, struggling not to burst into tears. (Anybody who knows me knows that I have a hard time holding it together whenever the conversation turns to children suffering, loved ones dying or anyone believing they don’t deserve to love and be loved.) He could see I was upset and again apologized... I inhaled and did everything in my power not to cry. Then Byron told me that losing his husband and being so moved by the characters on Noah’s Arc had emboldened him to finally come out to his police department. After years of silence, he has managed to integrate his life in ways he had never imagined possible. He thanked me for my work and for being 'so good' and I shook his hand, wanting more than anything to jump up and hug him (he was very tall), but we were in the middle of the gym and I was already about to lose my shit. Then he walked away and continued with his workout.
I worked out for about five more minutes but knew I needed to just get into my car and cry a little so I left without finishing...
I’m not sharing this to brag or to reveal that I'm a big softy. I’m not here to remind you how profoundly life-changing that little cable series was for that tiny demographic. I’m sharing this to remind you of how incredibly powerful EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU can be by living your lives honestly. There are so many people who are still uncomfortable with themselves--either because they’re gay or they’re Muslim or they’re overweight or they’re differently-abled or ethnic or ill or whatever... The example that you can set with a little self-respect and respect for those around you is more profound than you could ever imagine.
You’re thinking, “No Darryl, you’re playing characters on television, so of course people can see you. Nothing I do would ever make any difference.” But that’s not true. You have no idea who is watching and learning from you. YES, YOU! There could be a little girl on your block who feels empowered to respect herself and not do herself harm because she sees you and your girlfriend walking side by side down the street. There could be a staunch, church-going woman at your job who overhears you talking about your love for a cable series about four black gay guys who ends up watching the show and calling and reconnecting with her estranged gay son.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW POWERFUL YOU ARE.
So just keep living honestly. Keep living with integrity and compassion and respect. You are making a difference.
Thank you for reading.