BGB Actor Portrait: FRANKIE KRAFT
WHY ARE YOU AN ACTOR?
Because I love it. That still remains, but now I believe my purpose as an actor is greater than myself. I learned while doing volunteer work for The Trevor Project (an organization that provides 24/7 support for at-risk LGBTQ + youth) that art helps young people contemplating suicide escape from their own reality. I experienced the same thing when I was young, alone, and in the closet. I clung to any queerness stories or imagery that I could and it helped pull me out of it. I remind myself about the power of being an artist and representing for my community to help save lives.
WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR ACTING CAREER?
Create create create. The only way I will succeed is if I depend on myself.
WHEN DID YOU COME OUT?
It was over the course of a couple months during the summer of my freshman year of high school. First to my best friends and then to my family.
FULLY – FORMED GAY CHARACTERS ARE A RELATIVELY NEW PHENOMENON IN THE MAINSTREAM. DID YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO EXPRESS ALL OF YOURSELF – INCLUDING YOUR SEXUALITY – IN YOUR ACTING WORK?
I’m only 26, so I’m still discovering myself and my sexuality more and more. It’s unique to each person and that’s the beauty of expression. In some ways, my acting work was reborn after my first BGB course. I really discovered the freedom to express what I carried with me everywhere and that it actually mattered.
I’ve dealt with discrimination and heard from many teachers, managers, industry peeps that my sexuality didn’t matter to my acting. For example: “I don’t care who you sleep with”, “that’s none of my business”, “it’s just a job, get over yourself”, etc. It always felt like a dismissal and had everything to do with what I was bringing to the table. Three years into BGB, I feel more connected to myself as an actor than ever before.
HOW IS YOUR IDENTITY AS A GAY MAN EXPRESSED IN YOUR ACTING WORK?
It’s hard say. It’s just in everything I do now. I know my sexuality is one of the most special parts of who I am— I truly love that I’m a gay man. It’s what makes what I do taste good. I think about Ellen Page’s quote from her Time Magazine interview recently: “Honestly, if I played gay characters for the rest of my career, I’d be thrilled. I wish I could, honestly!” I’ve never felt more peace as an actor since accepting this.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT STRAIGHT ACTORS PLAYING GAY ROLES?
So much has changed socially over the years. Especially since Prop 8 and the Supreme Court ruling and continues to get better. With that said, to be completely honest, it’s disappointing seeing straight actors playing gay roles. The mystery of actors sexuality has basically evaporated in the modern age. You can Google to see if Mark Ruffalo is gay or straight. Or Matt Bomer, respectively. After much reflection my stance is: Dear Straight Actors Who’ve Played Gay Roles. I don’t blame you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your work. It is valued. I’ve been effected, moved, and inspired. But I know that there is a gigantic, rich, creative, beautiful, real, inspiring pool of LGBTQ + talent out there that can bring everything we need to those roles and more. It’s happening slowly, similar to how they cast Noah Galvin for “The Real O’Neals”. Besides more material, we need visible “out” actors and leaders. It’s far more complex and political than that though. I urge more casting directors and creators to fight for these actors for their projects.
WHAT’S BGB EQUALITY (BGBE) ?
BGB Equality is a collective of LGBTQ+ artists who are working to change the perspective of the industry. It brings together LGBTQ+ actors and industry professionals to create new material, discuss their experiences in the business, where they can collaborate and where they can lead.
HOW DO YOU WANT THE INDUSTRY TO CHANGE?
I want to see an openly gay person win an Oscar for playing a gay role in a film. Something that’s never happened, ever. I don’t feel connected to the industry enough to say what I think needs to change. I’m working from the outside in. But I would love to see more LGBTQ + representation— and not just on screen. I’d like to see more queer story lines with queer actors playing the roles. I really think it has a lot to do with casting directors and directors. It’s a visual thing. You would never cast a white person to play an African-American character. When casting LGBTQ + characters, the directors don’t need to worry about the visual so much as the performance. So casting directors may think it’s appropriate to cast a straight person. I think it’s lazy casting. Thus, taking those roles away from identifying LGBTQ actors. Based on a survey done by SAG in 2013, 53% of LGBTQ respondents believed that directors and producers are biased against LGBTQ performers in hiring. 34% of non-LGBTQ respondents reported this same perceived bias. 31% of all respondents indicated they think casting directors are biased against LGBTQ performers. LGBTQ + respondents are less likely than heterosexual respondents to have an agent, which may put LGBTQ performers at a disadvantage when looking for work. I’ve found this to be true.
HOW CAN STRAIGHT, CIS PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY BE AN ALLY TO THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN THE INDUSTRY?
By continuing to support LGBTQ art and the fight for equality for all people. There is so much of our experience that hasn’t truly been shared with the world that needs to be heard.
WHICH GAY ACTOR OR ACTORS DO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
I just read “Wisecracker”, the story of William Haines, the first openly gay star in Hollywood. He’s definitely an inspiration. Montgomery Clift’s life and career. A man with so much talent. Oh how I wish he could’ve existed in our time. Rock Hudson. I’m inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and queer romanticism. It translates to more contemporary Romeo’s like James Dean, River Phoenix, and Leonardo DiCaprio. I like to pretend they exist in the queer landscape. I’m inspired by filmmakers like Bruce LaBruce, Gus Van Sant, Andrew Haigh, Xavier Dolan. I have tremendous respect for NPH, Chris Colfer, Colton Haynes, and specifically Matt Bomer — for being the first actor to publicly thank his husband and children after winning a Golden Globe for playing Ned Weeks in the film adaptation of A Normal Heart.
AND IN ONE WORD ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS:
HOW DO YOU FEEL?
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF?
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU?
- WEBSITE: www.frankiekraft.com
On Saturday, June 25th @ 7pm – BGB Equality presents a screenplay reading of CLOSET DRAMA OR, A DICK PIC OF A TWINK.
“Iggy is barely getting by on his looks when a chance encounter makes him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.” Equal parts hilarious and heartfelt, CLOSET DRAMA is a queer, modern update of Henry James’ THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY that examines the choices we make in life.