This week, we’re marking the debut of hot new show Feral, available to watch on gay streaming service Dekkoo.com.
The series follows the lives and loves of a bunch of LGBTI and LGBTI-friendly 20-something in Memphis, Tennessee.
Here, we catch up with one of the show’s leads Seth Daniel, to talk about his brooding character Daniel, life in Memphis, and the trials and tribulations of working as an actor when you’re openly gay…
Tell us about your background…
I was born in Tampa, Florida, and I moved Tennessee when I was nine. I grew up in the religious south, in Memphis. I didn’t come out to my family until I was 14. I went to high school and did the whole ‘I’m not gay, leave me alone’ stuff.
Growing up was pretty difficult because there wasn’t room to be gay. Nobody even considered it an option. It was like ‘We don’t talk about that.’
How did you come out to your parents?
In a letter. I was actually in boarding school. My parents were very accepting. They weren’t surprised. They raised me for 14 years!
Can you draw parallels between you and your character?
Actually what’s interesting is we filmed in Memphis, so I can totally relate to the show. That’s one of things Morgan made pretty clear when we were in pre-production.
He wanted people like us who grew up here, who grew up gay in a place where there isn’t a lot of room for that.
Did all of the cast grow in Memphis?
That’s correct. He chose a local cast. I knew two of the actors before. The lead, Billy, played by Jordan Nichols, he’s an actor in Memphis and I just knew him by association.
Feral leads Jordan Nichols, Leah Beth Bolton, Seth Daniel and Chase Brother, photographed by Breezy Lucia
When did you shoot the show?
The day it comes out, it will have been two years since we filmed it. What was funny was I was living in New York at the time. I was trying it out there but it completely killed me. Morgan called me from Memphis and said ‘ I have something I want you to do…’
I’d worked with Morgan before – he’d been on the crew in a couple of commercials I’d worked on. He said ‘If you’re in Memphis, or you can be, I’ve got something I think you could be good for.’ I was already begging for a reason to move home, because I was so broke and lonely. I flew out, filmed Feral and decided to stay and had a period of time where I was home. [Daniel now lives in LA].
In what ways can you relate to your character?
It was interesting, because a lot of the storylines are pretty close to what my youth struggle was. Figuring out who I was and what my place was in the world while, unfortunately, negatively effecting a lot of the people around me. I went through a time as a teenager when I was a really shitty person. I was shitty to myself and everybody around me.
People didn’t like me! I struggled a lot with this idea of ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’ It came from this internal idea of hating myself and not knowing why. My character goes through this struggle.
He’s dating CQ and he treats him like shit. It wasn’t initially meant to be designed around the way I grew up, but it’s definitely a character that Daniel and I played this really interesting version of my youth. It was cool.
The characters’ problems don’t seem necessarily related to their sexuality – was that deliberate?
I believe so. We can be represented in the media as having stereotypically gay problems. ‘Oh you’ve spilled your drink on me!’ Gay, dumb shit. I’m gay second or third. I think Morgan wanted to show a real representation of being a gay person.
It’s not all about clubs and sex and all of this craziness. I have to pay my rent too! I have dreams and goals. People stand in my way. My job can suck. It give us real, digestible, relatable storylines so that, even if you’re not gay, you can watch this show. It’s not just a bunch of gay stuff. My Dad can watch this!
It’s common for people, straight and gay, to see a gay person struggling and assume it’s because he’s gay. I grew up in a community that didn’t really respect me but my family loved me. Sexuality was never the issue.
I had plenty of other things going on but it was never outwardly an issue of homosexuality specifically. Being a person sucks! It’s hard. People suck. Dealing with life and figuring out what you want, where you’re going and what matters to you, that shit’s hard.
What’s been your experience of working as an openly gay actor?
It’s for sure a difficulty. I don’t know how it is in Europe, but definitely the dialogue is apparent in LA where…there are so few roles for LGBTI people in general. More than there used to be but we’re still talking one per mainstream show with a demographic between 18-30.
There’s not a lot of room for people who are out to get work because unfortunately this is a heterosexually-driven industry. If someone knows you’re gay, they don’t necessarily want you to audition for a straight role, just because there’s plenty of straight people who could do it.
But on the flip side, there are a lot of straight actors booking gay roles, which is frustrating for all of us out here who are fighting to make space for ourselves and to be represented as something more than the frivolous, catty gays at clubs and bars who don’t have real problems. It is an issue.
But in general I like to let my talent speak for itself. God forbid I have to be a gay actor, a niche actor where I only get gay roles – I don’t care, fuck it. As long as I can get myself out there and represent our community.
Was it a difficult decision, being out? Have you been open about it since the beginning?
Yes, it was difficult. I wasn’t open from he beginning, especially before I moved out to LA. My family, my world knows I’m gay, but as a professional actor I don’t just walk in like ‘Hey y’all!’ But I had to make that choice. Feral helped me with that.
We are in a day and age, we’ve come so much further than we have before – if ever there was a time for someone to stand up and say ’This is what I am, this is what I do’, this is the time. This gave me an opportunity, especially thinking back on my past where it was like ‘I don’t want hide this, I’ve no reason to.’
I’d like to be one of those people who say, ‘No I was me the whole time, no bullshit.’ Not straight until I get famous and then ‘oh, by the way, I’m gay’ for publicity.
If only for selfish, personal reasons, I don’t want to have to come out again. Coming out was an awful, anxiety-ridden experience for me. It’s terrible to be so vulnerable and show yourself to your family. I can’t even imagine millions people having a perception of you.
Throwing yourself naked in the crowd and saying ‘Is this OK?’ I don’t want to have to come out twice. I find it strange people would want to put themselves through that.
What would your advice be to a closeted actor, and do you know any?
I do know professionally-closeted actors. All of it’s circumstantial. Some people are making a career of it. If your goal is to be successful and make money of course. But it must be hard to sleep at night knowing that you’re being dishonest in a huge portion of your life and success.
Assuming it effects them negatively, my advice is do what’s most healthy for you in the long run. Success will come and go.
If you’re talented and driven, there will be a place for you. If you’re really pushing you can make stuff happen regardless.
I encourage people to be their most honest self. People respect that more than a handsome face. Be yourself and hopefully you’ll get more out of that than giving people what they want.
Would you be up for making a second season of Feral?
Absolutely. I knew Morgan already has the entire thing mapped out. It’s ready to go!