shine a spotlight on HIV/AIDS. We'll tell you what they're doing in their careers as well as in their HIV/AIDS activism.
He's played straight and gay characters in film and television. But with his high-profile role in Patrik-Ian Polk's gay cult hit, The Skinny, actor Blake Young-Fountain says that Hollywood is already seeing him differently.
"I have had directors tell me that having played this role will affect me negatively--that being in a Patrik-Ian Polk film, I'm putting myself in a box. I just choose not to believe that," says Young-Fountain, who plays Sebastian, one of the former Brown University BFFs out for a weekend of debauchery and fun in New York City. "But the roles that tend to get me noticed, the ones that people come up to me and talk about, are the ones where I'm playing gay."
The Skinny opened strong in April in limited weeklong screenings in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta--the buzz bolstering online chatter and preshow ticket sales for subsequent runs in San Francisco; Oakland, Calif.; Boston; Detroit; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; and New York City through May 18. (For exact dates and theater locations, go here.) Still, Young-Fountain, who is gay, has a strong sense of the barriers that need to be broken down for LGBT actors.
"If it's a good role and a great script, I want to play it," he says. "But I have heard people say, 'If you want to go mainstream, middle America is your bread and butter, and if you keep doing gay roles, that's all they're going to see you as, and they're not going to go see your other films.'"
Ellen DeGeneres' experience of going mainstream after coming out may not apply to everyone. "And I understand that, I guess," says Young-Fountain, "but I just have to keep on truckin'."
An honors graduate of New York University with a bachelor's in drama and journalism, the Cleveland-born actor made his professional debut in director James Bartolomeo's 2005 America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back. Shortly thereafter, he landed a starring role in the Kirk Shannon-Butts feature Blueprint.
For three years Young-Fountain made a living bouncing between New York and Los Angeles (with modeling and some theater gigs in London on the side) before permanently setting up shop on the West Coast four years ago.
"New York is the center of the universe for me," he says, "but I was finding more work in Los Angeles."
It's fitting that the budding star--who was named for Blake Carrington, John Forsythe's character on the 1980s prime-time TV soap smash Dynasty, his mom's favorite show--made it to Hollywood, where he has auditioned for numerous independent film roles and has landed on such shows as NBC's Parenthood and CBS's 2 Broke Girls.
He just wrapped production on an independent short film, Cartel, in which the baby-faced 31-year-old co-stars as an 18-year-old drug dealer serving time in federal prison. "It's completely different from probably every other character that I've played," he says. "I really thought this character could show my range."
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, author and documentary filmmaker who conducted interviews on behalf of the Black AIDS Institute, a co-founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.
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