Jensen Atwood (left) and Darryl Stephens
Photo credit: Barry King/WireImage
When the second season of Logo’s hit flagship series Noah’s Arc wrapped, stars Darryl Stephens and Jensen Atwood were sure they’d be continuing on with another season of their hit dramedy. However, the show’s unexpected cancellation sent shockwaves through the community and left both the stars and the fans with more questions than answers. That’s all in the past however, as Noah and the boys are back with Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom, a fitting coda to the series that takes the gang to the big screen and jumps ahead in real time two years from the Noah’s Arc finale.
As we head into final turn of the election season with the very controversial Proposition 8 on the ballots in California, now seems like as good a time as ever to re-acquaint ourselves with the Noah’s Arc crew and with the movie’s fresh and honest look at gay relationships in the dawning era of gay-marriage rights. Darryl Stephens and Jensen Atwood sat down with AfterElton.com and talked about Noah’s cancellation, shooting in the cold, voguing, and why “gay” isn’t necessarily the most important part of the Noah’s Arc universe.
AfterElton.com: When the show first came out, a number of the cast members were very coy about their sexual orientation. Darryl, you just did an interview with Instinct in which you came out officially. What motivated that decision, and how have things changed for you since that hit the presses?
Darryl Stephens: Well, technically I did the Out 100 in 2007, which was my first press-related discussion, or sort of announcement. It’s never been a big deal privately. The concern we had at the beginning of the show, and one that we still have, is that once you do a gay show and talk about your personal sexuality, nobody wants to talk about anything else. It became to be such a dumb thing to be dodging the question. If somebody would ask me in an interview, I would just say “Well, we don’t talk about our sexuality.”
DS: When Out Magazine called me and asked me if I’d like to be included, I said well at this point, they’re calling me directly. I may as well accept the honor and get on with it. Personally, it was kind of silly for me to not talk about it because I’ve been out to my family for years. I did the Instinct cover because for people who did have those lingering questions about what it’s like to be gay and working in the industry and black and on TV and all of those things, I felt like I could answer those questions once and for all and move on, and hopefully we’re ready to do that.
AE: Absolutely, and it’s a really positive thing for you to be able to do that and to increase the images of gay black men in the media.
DS: The people who responded well to my character didn’t necessarily need it, and for the people who looked up to Noah, it’s only going to help them to see me in my personal life being honest with who I am. I’ve always been honest with who I am personally, but it doesn’t hurt to be public as well. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s nothing I’ve never been ashamed of, so why make a big deal out of it?
AE: Now Jensen, your character was straight in the beginning until he went into the whole relationship with Noah, and I wanted to know personally since you’re straight, how has your opinion of the gay community changed, if at all?
Jensen Atwood: In public forums….well, I guess you’ve just thrown out what your thoughts on my sexuality are. [Laughs]
AE: Oh, I thought you had spoken in the past of being straight.
JA: Well, in public forums it’s not something I generally speak on.
AE: I see.
JA: For me, on the subject of sexuality, the reason I have the interest I do is because of acting, which is what I do for a living. For me, it’s a little belittling to focus on what my sexuality is as opposed to what my talent is. There’s a certain level of what I see as respect. Public forums, I feel, aren’t the right place to discuss it.