“Noah’s Arc” Star Darryl Stephens: “I Get Called In For Sassy Black Gay Roles”

“Being black and gay in America both come with heavy doses of self-loathing”

Darryl Stephens was working steadily in Hollywood until his breakthrough role as Noah Nicholson on Logo’s beloved Noah’s Arc, which led to roles in Boy Culture, Another Gay Movie, and the well-received Noah’s Arc continuation Jumping The Broom.

He went on to star on DTLA, The Skinny, Bolden!, and in 2001 released Shortcomings, which weaved together short stories he had written previously.

Now Darryl has published his memoir Required Reading, which describes his experiences as an out, black actor in the industry.

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He recently sat down with Salon to discuss the ups and downs of his career, and staying true to himself.

Asked if things have changed for out actors in the decade since Noah’s Arc , Darryl says “When we made Noah’s Arc, every interviewer was asking: Are the actors gay or straight? Now, with Jack Falahee on How to Get Away with Murder, we know straight and gay actors can play straight or gay characters. It’s less an issue for the press. The culture is changing a lot, and you are seeing 12-13 year-olds coming out. There is no way I could have come out when I was that age.”

He admits that he does get “called in more often for sassy black queen roles,” and believes that all aspects of queer black life should be represented, remarking “I love seeing all of the different types, and not prioritizing one over the other. Sissies can be powerful. The term “thug” has been co-opted by conservatives as term for a black male—but there is a clear admiration for hyper-masculine depictions of black gay men. Being black and gay in America both come with heavy doses of self-loathing. I think it’s extremely important for people who are taught explicitly or implicitly to think less of themselves, to have an alternate perspective.”

With Derek Magyar in Boy Culture

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On having to create his own opportunities in a business in which there aren’t a lot for out black actors, Darryl is very self-aware, saying “What it boils down to is that I don’t like sitting around waiting for someone to call me. I’ve been writing scripts and books and songs and telling stories and sharing emotional journeys. It’s getting my stories communicated even in a non-acting context. I am writing an original film and we’re figuring out how to market it for people to invest in it. It’s a part of a process I’m less familiar and comfortable with. But for me, it’s been a process of learning my strengths.”

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