'It's a Sin' Director: Straight Actors Should Turn Down Gay Roles

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday February 19, 2021

The mastermind behind the recent hit show "It's a Sin" believes straight actors should turn down gay roles and encourage producers to cast LGBTQ actors instead, the Daily Mail reports.

Appearing on Damian Barr's Literary Salon, Russell T. Davies — who also created and wrote for the U.K. version of "Queer as Folk" — said the only way for gay and lesbian to get lead roles is for straight actors to have the courage to step back. Davies said, "I think if you get offered a film in a gay role, you should turn it down, and you should take those production companies by the hand and say 'I've got a lot of clout, I've got a lot of people, come with me to raise money over here, and I will help you get a gay person into the leading roles.'"

The 57-year-old producer particularly targets actors with money and power in the industry. Davies said it is also necessary for people in his position — creating a show like "It's a Sin" for Channel 4 of the BBC — to begin casting the LGBTQ actors they believe are capable of eventually filling lead roles. He explains "the problem is, if you don't start at the bottom with young kids, like the cast of 'It's A Sin' - I'm looking at the top now, because the truth is there are no leading gay men or leading gay women who can finance the production, and there never will be unless those straight actors step aside."

Davies specifically points to Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years & Years who stars as Ritchie Tozer in "It's a Sin," as "an absolute superstar."

"Create them now, create those stars so that in ten years' time maybe Olly Alexander will raise the money — and that's a hard thing, I mean raising $30million for a film, no businessman wants to waste that money," Davies explains. "So you have to do this, you have to start here, because nothing is moving at the top, and that proves it's massively unequal. 'It's fair, it's balanced, gay can play this, straight can play that' - no, it's not remotely fair, there is no balance. It needs work, it needs an attack."

"It's a Sin" follows a group of young gay men moving to London in the 1980s as the AIDS epidemic hits, exploring their sexuality while contending with heartache. The limited series is streaming now on HBO Max.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.