That Grape Juice caught up with Noah’s Arc star Darryl Stephens. Check out the full interview after the jump…
TGJ: Hey man! Thanks so much for taking the time.
Darryl: No problem! Thanks for having me.
TGJ: Not a problem. So, let’s get right to it: LOGO’s newest show ‘DTLA’ will be landing on television screens October 24th (11/10c). Tell us how excited you are about it!
Darryl: I’m really excited! It’s actually pretty cool to go back to the LOGO network with this show because it’s so different from ‘Noah’s Arc’. ‘Noah’s Arc’ was revolutionary and I know the fans have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all this time since it’s been off the air.
['DTLA'] is very different, still gay-themed, but more like the “next generation” of gay tv.
TGJ: What should we expect from this first season?
Darryl: Well, the show is about a group of friends in downtown L.A. It’s kinda like ’30 Something’ in the sense that it’s very conversational, character driven, and sexy. There are interracial relationships, bisexual characters, straight friends, and gay friends; it’s just all over the place. It’s very representative of this generation of “queer folk”. We’re not segregating ourselves in “gay ghettoes”. We live where we want and hang out with who we want.
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TGJ: Sounds interesting. Any guest stars we should be on the lookout for?
Darryl: We have amazing guest stars this season! We have [comedienne] Lunell, who is hilarious! Sandra Bernhard and Melanie Griffith are on the show playing lesbian ex-wives. Leslie Jordan, from ‘Will & Grace’, is on and hilarious. The beautiful B. Scott and, of course, we have Miss Tiffany “New York” Pollard.
TGJ: How was it working with the outspoken New York?
Darryl: She is a brilliant actress. She brings drama and a lot of heart to set. Love her!
TGJ: Considering that we all know you so well as Noah, do you ever worry that fans will have a hard time embracing you as a new character?
Darryl: The character I play [in 'DTLA'] is nothing like Noah. He’s not doe-eyed and pretty. Honestly, at times, not even the nicest person. But, I assumed that people would be excited to see me doing something new. I know there are some diehard Noah fans. I’ve even seen tweets from people who were saying, “this show better be as good as ‘Noah’s Arc’”. And my response is: If you really want to watch ‘Noah’s Arc’, go buy the DVD.
This is a new show, so it’s not going to be the same tone. It will take time to adjust, I know, but the pilot sets up the characters and the storyline for the new show. So, by the second week, you’ve met the people and know what their struggles are.
TGJ: We’re definitely hoping the same. So Darryl, we have a segment we call ‘Five From Fans” where you quickly answer 5 questions from our readers. Ready?
Darryl: Let’s do it!
TGJ: 1) If Darryl was not an actor, what would he be doing?
Darryl: I would probably be an educator. Most of the people in my family are educators and I would probably take that route. Maybe even in somebody’s public school helping to shape young lives. People who follow on me know I’m a grammar Nazi! I could also see myself being a writer.
TGJ: 2) Who specifically inspired you to act?
Darryl: A number of people inspired me, but if I had to pinpoint one it would be Prince in ‘Under the Cherry Moon’. In retrospect, it looks very gay to me (laughs). But, it’s only the kind of thing that Prince could get away with. And, I wanted to be funny and fly like him.
TGJ: 3) As many people saw ‘The Game’ get cancelled and make a comeback on a new station, they began hoping the same for their favorite shows (i.e. ‘Noah’s Arc’, ‘Girlfriends’). What’s your favorite show that went off the air that you would like to come back?
Darryl: A show called ‘Pushing Daisies’, which didn’t get a fair chance. There’s ‘GCB’ – which I loved. And, honestly, I would say ‘Noah’s Arc’. But, being honest, I think its time has come and gone.
TGJ: 4) Do you keep in touch with your old Noah’s Arc cast?
I do! I talked to Christian Vincent (Ricky), Jensen Atwood (Wade), and Rodney Chester (Alex) about the premiere of ‘DTLA‘ and they sent love, but couldn’t make it. Doug Spearman (Chance) did come and we’re working together on a film that he wrote and is directing called ‘Hot Guys With Guns’. We go into production on that next month, actually. Doug and I talk all the time, Jennia Fredrique (Brandy) and I talk every now and again, and Patrik Ian Polk as well.
TGJ: 5) Do you get tired of people calling you Noah or comparing you to him when you go to other ventures?
It’s a double-edged sword. I feel fortunate to have played a character so many people responded so well to and long to see more from. At the same time, when the network decided the show was over, the show was over. I have to be able to do other things. I hope people are excited enough about Darryl the actor and not just Noah the character that they will continue to follow me on my journeys and be just as excited as I am.
TGJ: Thanks so much. But, in regards to ‘Noah’s Arc’, it was LOGO’s highest rated show during the time of its airing! So, what was the real reason fans didn’t get a season 3?
Darryl: Money. That show was a lot more expensive than a network that size could actually produce. When ‘Noah’ was on the air, it was really difficult to determine if ad sales would be worth it. We had to prove to the people who were paying for commercials that the show had an audience. But, by a third season, the actors would be wanting make a bit more money and that would be hard to put together with already paying for the show. I mean, look now and you would see that “Rupaul’s ‘Drag Race’” is their most popular show…but it’s a reality show (which is less expensive to produce).
TGJ: Understood. But, if presented with funds and fan demand, is a season 3 a desire of yours? Or, do you think it’s really time to let those characters stay where they are in time.
Darryl: Well, I will tell you what was planned. After we shot the film and it did very well, LOGO started thinking the show was worth the investment. However, they felt the model (of four friends) was dated considering the film came four years after the pilot. So, they came up with a pilot for Noah and Wade – as a married couple – to move to New York because Noah got a job writing for a soap opera. Pretty much a spinoff with all new characters to open up the show to people of other races and women to get it out of that “gay black male bubble”.
That would’ve been the best way to keep the characters going, fresh, and interesting. Not quite sure why that fell through, but everyone’s moved on. Patrik just did ‘The Skinny’ and there’s a possibility that will be spun off into a show for LOGO. But, ‘Noah’s Arc’ is probably not coming back. Maybe things could change if money and a script presented itself warranting us to get back into those characters. But, I’d have to get a wig because I’m not growing my hair back out (laughs).
TGJ: (laughs). Ok, wrapping this all up, some of us have definitely been following your budding music career. What inspired you to go ahead and pursue that passion?
I’d written a number of songs years ago that I thought would just be a book of poetry. But, after getting a MacBook Pro and playing around with GarageBand, I tried my hand at a few songs. I enjoyed it and decided to shoot a video for ‘Envious Moon’.
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Never something I thought I’d pursue or even will continue to pursue; it’s just something I do in my spare time. I don’t consider myself a singer. And, I know that success in that area requires touring to make money. It’s not about selling an album or single anymore, and since I’m not trying to be on the radio, I just have songs I want to get out. If you listen to the lyrics to ‘Envious Moon’ you’ll see it’s all kind of…gay. And, I know that’s not going on the radio. I may put out another EP around the release of ‘DTLA‘ though.
TGJ: Lastly, tell our readers why they should tune into ‘DTLA’?
Darryl: Without being shady to any programs out now, we have ‘New Normal’ and other shows like that show gay people as being “clean cut white men”. That may be why the black church is still so opposed to marriage equality because we are not seeing people of color living good lives as gay men and women. A show like ‘DTLA‘, which is multi-ethnic with gay and straight people, we get to see people who reflect you live their lives honesty.
It is powerful for audiences to see themselves in the characters you play – just like they did with us in ‘Noah’s Arc’. ‘DTLA‘, to me, picks off to where that idea left off. It’s time for us to check out how different people live their lives. It’s trying to open people’s eyes to the idea that gay folks are in your community, in your church, and other places. We’re not going anywhere, hurting anybody, but we’re living our lives as well. Can’t wait for you guys to see it!
‘DTLA’ premieres today (October 24th) at 11/10c only on LOGO!
Interview performed by: Q. Rashad (That Grape Juice US)