Michael J. Willett is “not a person who can have a secret or pretend to be something else,” which is why he just couldn’t stand the thought of living as a closeted gay celebrity.
The 25-year-old is experiencing breakout fame as one of the stars of MTV’s new romantic comedy series Faking It, about a group of totally relatable high school students trying to figure their lives out in a liberal Texas town. In it, Willett’s character Shane Harvey is an adorably over-the-top and constant source of comedic relief.
“I got a lot of pressure to stay in the closet,” he told Gay Star News in a recent interview. “[But] I didn’t have another option. I refuse to look at [being gay] as being different and I think that helps other people to see the same thing.”
He also said “now is more the time than ever” for closeted actors to come out, but that doesn’t mean he thinks it’ll happen. “I think there’s still a ways to go and grow and teach and change and I think we might have to force it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s just going to happen.”
In the show, some of Shane’s friends include two girls who climb the social ladder by pretending to be lesbians, and an Intersex character. Asked about the show’s success, Willett said:
“I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of love and support and I feel like we’re doing something that’s innovative and fun and entertaining. I’m happy to be a part of it.
I feel like we’re bringing up topics that need to be talked about and it’s not taboo anymore – that’s what I’m hoping.”
As for his character Shane Harvey, Willett added:
“I definitely want to see what makes him vulnerable and struggle because we always see Shane so confident and open and wanting everyone else to be so honest. I want to see the cracks and deal with some of the drama.”
Check out the best of Michael J. Willett as Shane Harvey in Faking It below. You can catch Faking It Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on MTV, or watch full episodes online.