“The Whole Truth” Does Justice to its Gay Character

While it might seem
that the last thing television needs is yet another legal drama (okay, the last
thing it really needs is yet another legal, cop or medical drama), ABC’s The Whole Truth does offer something
genuinely different for the genre: an out gay character who is actually
featured prominently.

The character is Alejo
Salazar
, a defense attorney who is the best friend and right hand man for Jimmy
Brogan (Rob Morrow), the founder of the law firm for which Alejo works. And not
only is Alejo gay, but he’s a gay man of color, something still all too rare on
network television.

Even better, unlike
many current legal and crime procedurals, The Whole Truth promises that viewers
will get to know the personal lives of the characters. And in the case of
Alejo, that includes a partner involved in Washington D.C.
politics and who should eventually become somewhat involved with the show’s
storylines.

AfterElton.com
recently caught up with Anthony Ruivivar, the actor playing Alejo. While
Ruivivar isn’t yet a household name, he’s been acting on television since 1991
and sharp-eyed viewers might even recognize him from the gay comedy In &
Out
.

AfterElton: Tell me about Alejo.
Anthony Ruivivar:
Alejo’s second in
command [of Jimmy’s law firm]. He’s basically Robin to Jimmy’s Batman. He runs
a law office with Jimmy and they’re basically best friends, joined at the hip. Alejo
is a bit more buttoned-down, [he’s the] law wiz. Jimmy’s a bit more
off-the-cuff and Alejo’s a little bit more streamlined, a little bit more
focused on the work.

Alejo’s Character Bio

AE: Alejo appears completely out in the pilot.
What’s the situation with him and Jimmy?
AR:
It’s a total non-issue, which I think is great.
You can really tell when society as a whole is getting somewhere when it
doesn’t have to be explained and it doesn’t have to be at the forefront of
their relationship.

And it doesn’t have to be at the forefront of
the storytelling. It just is. It’s just the landscape of the show. So Alejo’s
been out to Jimmy, he’s been out since, I think, 16 when he came out to his
parents. His father freaked out and ended up kicking him out, and as a result
he kind of had to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. You see some of that
in the second episode, you end up getting some of that backstory.

AE: I’m surprised because a lot of times on
shows like this, especially with a fairly large cast and that are about the
legal world or the police world, you
don’t see much of a personal life at all, much less a backstory that far back.
AR:
Tom and the writers are amazing at
maintaining… I mean, it’s a procedural show, a law show at heart, but they
are very interested in focusing on the characters so ultimately it’s kind of
like a workplace drama in the sense that yeah, we’re all working this case but
they do a good job of dropping in all this backstory and dropping in character.

AE: What sets The Whole Truth apart from
other legal shows?
AR:

With Law and Order they’re trying to catch the bad guy. With our show,
we’re not trying to catch the bad guy. Our show is kind of exposing the law and
all of its contradictions and its beautiful, strange glory. So our whole show
takes a case and breaks it down and you’re with it the entire time. You get so
many different perspectives and you also understand the perspectives of the
human beings that are trying the case.

With that said, it’s imperative that we as the
actors, as the characters in the show, bring our point of view to the case that
we’re trying. So we definitely have a very strong point of view.

AE: Thankfully, gay characters on television
aren’t as rare as they used to be, but unfortunately gay male characters of
color still are something that’s pretty rare. Were you aware of that fact?
AR:
I wasn’t aware of that. I was more aware of
ethnic minorities being the lead on primetime network shows.

AE: Which there seems to be a lot more of this
season, thankfully.
AR:
I think that’s great, to kill two birds with
one stone. It’s great that it just is. I’m happy that we’re not, like,
explaining it away so much. I’m happy that it just is part of the landscape of
what the show’s about.

I know as an ethnic minority it’s exciting to be
one of the leads of the show, not relegated to the soft stories, the little
stories, like they’ll give you a little bit of a chance here and a little bit
of a chance there. Alejo is a strong lead of the show. It really makes me
happy.

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