Why we should not be too hasty in our reaction to Whitehall being cast for Disney's first major gay role
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Image credit: IAN WEST/PAThat said, there is also the discussion that just because an actor's sexuality fits the profile of a particular role, that does not mean that their skills and such fit that of the opportunity being advertised. The focus should not just be on the person's sexuality. If there is an individual with more aligning acting skills, which in the long term will evoke a more developed character, expressing the role in an appropriate manner, they are more likely to be suited to the role at hand. An actor's sexuality should not be the main asset of being successful in obtaining an opportunity. Furthermore, to have major gay characters within films is a massive milestone in itself and praise should be given to Disney for making that step in wanting to portray diversity within their projects. Understandably, there are frustrations about the casting and of course it is going to take time for Hollywood to truly portay diversity, but with LGBTQ+ actors raising their profiles gradually through playing straight characters, limiting them to roles based on their sexuality can be deemed as typecasting, which goes against the concept of equality in itself. One person tweeted:
As a gay man may I chip in & say I'm fine with #JackWhitehall playing a gay character as long as gay actors continue to be cast in heterosexual roles.— Simon Bye
This is not the first time Disney has included a gay character - Josh Gad's character LeFou in 2017's Beauty and the Beast was granted an "exclusively gay moment," which in an interview with CinemaBlend, Gad said "I think that creates conflict and that creates a more interesting, three-dimensional version of the character."
Though both these portrayals of gay men are presented by straight actors, it's certainly a step in the right direction regarding LGBTQ+ visibility on screen. Acting is a profession in which shedding one's own background is part and parcel of doing the job, so to limit the roles an actor can play according to their own sexuality would be antithetical to the very point of acting.
Jack Whitehall is a good actor, who ultimately succeeded in the casting process, so we should have faith that through his craft, he'll do Disney and the LGBTQ+ community proud.