In Part One of our interview with ONE LIFE TO LIVE star Scott Evans, the talented and courageous actor discussed his process of becoming a public figure in 2009, and shared what being a "role model" means to him. In Part Two below, he discusses having his own mother play his mother ONE LIFE TO LIVE, how he approached the gay-wedding scenes, and his thoughts on Rupert Everett's recent comments about gay actors.
We Love Soaps: One of the things I’ve always loved about soaps is their ability to convey emotional stories and social messages in a way no other art form can. You’re in people’s living rooms five days a week.
Scott Evans: That’s just it. You’re a person [they] see every day. It’s like a friend, it’s like having someone there. It’s not someone you watch every week for half an hour, it’s on every day for an hour. So these people [the OLTL characters] become a part of their lives. I don’t think I really understood that until this past year.
We Love Soaps: You said you are from a family that is very respectful and accepting [of your being gay]. Your mother was actually on a few episodes of ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
Scott Evans: Barbara Fish!
We Love Soaps: What what was that like to have your mother on the show?
Scott Evans: When Frank Valentini [OLTL’s Executive Producer] first posed the question to me about her playing my mother, I thought, “Am I being Punk’d? What is this?” Then I called her and she was like, “Oh yeah, totally.” Then when I told her it was for real, she said, “Wait, I’m going to be on TV? Okay, I’m not going to eat.” [Laughs] That’s our reaction in my family. But it was great. She came to New York, she did four episodes, and we were up the night before running lines. She was totally cute. She got her costume and said, “Oh my Lord, I’m wearing a sweater set.” That is not her. It was very exciting for her. Then we were doing these scenes, these coming out scenes, where she had to not accept it. Everytime they yelled cut she was like, “Are you okay, are you okay? I’m sorry, I don’t mean this.” But it was fantastic. I loved getting up to get to work with a family member in a medium that she’s not even involved in. She’s involved in acting in the theater, but she all of a sudden was on TV with me and it was great.
We Love Soaps: That scene in the gay wedding episode where Fish stands up and comes out was pivotal. How did you prepare for that?
Scott Evans: It was fairly easy because what they wrote for dialogue was spectacular. I mean, we can’t swear on television, which is probably what I would have done in a real life situation. But they wrote me such great dialogue that I thought, “I can’t wait. These are things I’ve always wanted to say to people like this!” I was there when the Hetrick-Martin Institute opened at Astor Place. I saw the protesters when I walked by. I was like [groans], it boggles my mind. So being able to do this, with so many people on set that day, it felt great. There was nobody there who really hates gays or doesn’t want gay marriage. So every time they’d say “cut” people kept saying, “This is so great, I love this.” I’m like, “I didn’t write it.”
We Love Soaps: But you certainly did say the lines, and you channeled the energy of someone who is torn with himself, and resolves that by being vocal.
Scott Evans: On top of that it was my character’s first time publicly announcing, “I’m gay” on national television, I had to remember that. But on the inside, as Scott Evans, I was thinking, “I’m gonna stick it to these protesters.” Playing both of those worked out.
We Love Soaps: Are there pressures that you face now that you were not facing a year ago at this time?
Scott Evans: Nothing much has changed. Except for the fact that now people think it’s important to have me at events. Before I went and I was a spectator. Now I go and I get to talk, I get to say things. People want to hear my opinion.
We Love Soaps: What’s that like?
Scott Evans: It’s silly. Because it’s not just me who feels this way. Everybody feels this way. It’s because I’m in an industry or a medium where people want to hear what I have to say...okay, I’ll talk. But we all feel this way. I’m just a voice for a large community.
We Love Soaps: Are there any drawbacks to being as out there publicly as you are now?
Scott Evans: I just read an interview with Rupert Everett. He was saying he would not recommend to any young actor to come out in this industry, which is such a bummer that he says that. It’s probably true, and if I’m pigeonholed as a gay character the rest of my life, okay. I don’t mind. I think acting is acting. How you do a role should have nothing to do with your sexual practice as a basis. More and more there are gay roles on everything. I have no problem playing gay, or playing straight, and nobody else should either. But they do!
We Love Soaps: Again, I think that’s such a refreshing stance. “Role model” may not be the right term, but you are someone who hopefully inspires others to follow in the path you are trail blazing.
Scott Evans: I hope so. Especially now I think it’s really important that people come out. Everyone thinks the LGBT community is such a small little bit of the world, and it’s not. There are so many people that are so afraid to come out. Even lately, I can’t believe the stories I hear about that teen in Puerto Rico or the older man in Brooklyn. I don’t know, it makes me sick.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Come back to part three for the final part of our interview where we discuss Fish's future, the 2010 Emmys, and why Scott doesn't read the internet message boards anymore.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.