One Love, All Equal: When did you decide to become an actor?
Michael Coleman: I turn 42 this year and I am still not sure if I have decided this is what I want to do. I think it is an incredible privilege to spend one’s days as a professional storyteller. The ability to dedicate your life to education and entertainment, and to hopefully be a reflection of how our moment in time sees yesterday, today and tomorrow, is a tremendous gift and should also be considered an extraordinary responsibility.
OLAE: Can you tell us a little more about your character Happy on ABC´s Once Upon a Time TV show?
MC: I am a lifelong fan of Disney and fairy tales of all types. The incredible honor I have in bringing to life a classic character that has played a part in my own childhood for an entirely new generation is humbling. In these first five seasons the writers have been generous with giving me some really fun one-liners and have given me a chance to explore my comedic chops.
I have spent most of my career playing various comedic characters and adding Happy to this library of fun is really special. As he hasn’t been given a “Storybrooke” name yet he is always affectionately referred to as “Happy” which lends itself to lots of fun word play both on and off screen.
OLAE: Is there a moment or instance that you can pinpoint as the reason for wanting to become an ally?
MC: I don’t believe there was a pivotal moment nor did I have a specific epiphany.I’ve just always believed in the idea of “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (a quote attributed to Mahatma Ghandi) I want to see more love and respect in the world. Thus, I believe I need to start with love and respect for myself so I can both give and receive the love and respect I believe the world needs.
I truly believe this is actually the secret to a “Happy” life- Love and respect. And I firmly believe everyone is responsible to contribute this to both themselves and to others.
OLAE: What does being an LGBT Ally mean to you?
MC: It means that I stand for all of my fellow humankind and will stand tall, with my voice, heard loudly and proudly, that we as a people must not put conditions on our love and respect.
OLAE: Have you ever had to “come out” as an Ally to anyone?
MC: For better or for worse I have never been shy with my opinions and I’ve never hidden my personal beliefs on issues like this one. I guess the closest, and perhaps sweetest, moments I had that came close to “coming out as an ally” is when a childhood friend let all of us know he was gay soon after we graduated high school.
We were all very close and there was a brief moment of silence before we all erupted in giggles and basically said we’ve known for years! We’ve been waiting for you to be in on it too! There were hugs and there was more laughter and it continued to make zero difference on how we behaved around our friend.
OLAE: Why do you think it is important for LGBT people to have straight Allies as part of their support system?
MC: I believe segregation begets segregation. We must continually evolve to a place where we see each other as people as opposed to segregated labels. Tocelebrate our diversity while embracing the things we have in common. I don’t have gay friends or straight friends… I just have friends. Some like boys, some like girls, some are boys, and some are girls.I don’t add or subtract anything additional to the dynamic based on same gender or otherwise.
OLAE: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming an ally to the LGBT community?
MC: Be on the right side of history. This long overdue equality isn’t something we’re debating as to whether it should happen as it is already happening everywhere. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be the love. Be the respect.
OLAE: Is there any other message you would like to share with the readers?
MC: Be the love you wish to receive. For those of you who’ve faced any kind of negativity because of who you love or how you love always remember there are more of us who love and respect you than those unfortunate few who do not understand. Our numbers are growing and will continue to grow. We are evolving and although it never happens as quickly as we like or as quickly as it should history will be kind to those of us who see the light early.
OLAE: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with us Michael.
MC: Thank you for having me. Continue the important work you do!