PRIDE & Art: Meet Evan Edwards!
AEA, DG, AGVA
Actor, Singer, Dancer, Director, Playwright, Lyricist, Composer-In-Training
Moxie: Happy PRIDE Month, Evan! Excited to have you with us today - tell us a bit about yourself. What are you excited about right now, artistically?
Evan: I grew up in a small town with a big family. I always knew I wanted to live somewhere else and do something that spoke not only to my mind but my heart. Through a series of fortunate coincidences, I ended up a theatre professional and calling New York City my home and place of business. What am I excited about right now, artistically? Everything. Right now, I’m wearing several different hats on several different projects. Jeneen, my writing partner and I finished a fun little musical about trying to achieve your dreams. I say fun and little because it has five people and is about an hour long and everyone ends up happy. Our first endeavor was a sweeping three hour Les Mis type epic with literally 25 main characters (and a chorus!) where everyone died. I have a play in a developmental festival, I’m directing a reading and I have a piece being filmed for audiences. As an actor, I’m currently working on memorizing lines for a play about love and being able to see it, in which I get to play a drag queen along with two other guys. And yes, all of these projects are happening at the same time!
M: Always the many hats! So specifically for Pride month, we want to ask, did you have a LGBTQ mentor in the arts growing up, and if so, how do you think their mentorship impacted your own journey?
E: To my knowledge I didn’t have an LGBTQ mentor growing up. Growing up I didn’t know LGTBQ people even existed. So, I probably did have a mentor who was, and just wasn’t aware of them. That being said, before I moved to New York, when I was FULLY aware of LGTBQ love (if you get my drift) I did get the best advice from two old show queens, Jack and Jimmy, who were like Auntie Mame and Vera to me. One said “New York is the land of extremes. Women in furs step out of limos and walk over homeless people. Don’t let it throw you”. And the other said “New York doesn’t change you. It just makes you more of who you already are”. Words to live by.
M: Amazing words to live by - yes. So, we are curious - four LGBTQ artists whose work needs to be celebrated and known right now - who would they be for you and why?
E: This is not going to be a popular answer but it’s my truth. I don’t believe in labeling an artist Queer/LGBTQ. Who an artist loves and has in their bed is none of my business. If they want to share that and focus on that in their artistic endeavors, that’s great. I just believe that Art, especially good art, transcends the labels “man” puts on the people who make it. Good Art speaks to the soul, not to the body and who’s loving that body.
M: Your truth is 100% valid - thanks for being so honest in your answers. That said, what would you say does your identity bring to the table in your craft, or how has your identity shaped your art, if at all?
E: Okay this is complicated, because it’s based on which Artistic hat I wear. If I’m in actor mode, my identity hasn’t shaped that Art. Although people have tried to use my identity to limit my expression and limit the types of roles available for me to play. It’s a constant struggle as an actor living in my skin, to be seen as a three-dimensional whole person. As a writer however, I vowed to write inclusive stories, ones that show people like me living and existing in the forefront of the world in varying degrees of success, in varying professions, in varying situations all centered around wanting and loving just like everyone else. The characters that I write could be anyone, could love anyone, and could have any outward physical appearance. I just make sure to put on paper that they look like me and love like me.
M: Love that - and your writing is great! For those coming up in this crazy world, what would be your advice to LGBTQ artists who are just now celebrating their first Pride month?
E: I would tell LGBTQ artists who are just celebrating their first Pride month to do it their way, whatever that is. You don’t have to go to a parade to celebrate. (That is if there is one happening in person this year). Though parades are a great place to celebrate, they are not always indicative of the scope and breadth of how we live our lives. Pride can be as loud as a crowded disco blasting “I Will Survive” with thousands of LGBTQ voices lifted in solidarity. Or it can be as intimate as sharing your Art, your true soul with someone you love. That being said, my first Pride was bacchanalian. I do not regret a thing!
M: Lastly (for now!), looking to the future - what do you look forward to next on stage as we begin to reopen theatres across the country?
E: What I look forward to most when theatres reopen is that we now collectively get a "do over". We have the opportunity to decimate the “traditional” aspects of theatre and get it right. We live in a global society. The theatre should reflect that from behind the scenes to across the boards. Theatre, the stories it tells, the people who tell those stories and the ones behind the scenes who make it all happen, should be inclusion, and should be diverse. And most importantly, theatre can now strive for actual representation rather than representation based on what one sliver of society’s interpretation of who everyone else is. I’m excited at the prospect of being fully seen as an Artist, not just an Artist of Color or a Gay Artist, but as a whole human being, whose passion is telling stories.
Want to see more of Evan's work? Check out his website at www.evanedwardsaea.org !