Actor Jensen Atwood on 'Noah's Arc'
TONY COX, host:
Friendship, fashion and relationships are just a few ingredients in "Noah's Arc," the Logo Network's spicy hit show about gay black men. Actor Jensen Atwood plays Wade, boyfriend to the main character, Noah, and a screenwriter struggling to accept his sexuality.
(Soundbite of TV show, "Noah's Arc")
Mr. JENSEN ATWOOD (Actor): (as Wade) I've never kissed a guy before.
Mr. DARRYL STEVENS (Actor): (as Noah) But do you want to?
Mr. ATWOOD: (as Wade) Sorry, man, I don't think so.
Mr. STEVENS: (as Noah) I don't think we should hang out anymore.
Mr. ATWOOD: (as Wade) Why not?
Mr. STEVENS: (as Noah) I'm falling for you, Wade. So unless you can tell me that you're something other than straight… I didn't think so.
Mr. ATWOOD: (as Wade) Noah.
COX: Logo representatives told us yesterday that the show will return for another season. This came after NPR's Farai Chideya asked Jensen about rumors that it might not continue.
FARAI CHIDEYA: You have completed two seasons. You're waiting to start filming on a third. There's a rumor going around that the show might be cancelled despite solid ratings. Have you heard this, and what do you think about it?
Mr. ATWOOD: Yeah, I've heard it as well. I mean it worries me a little because, you know, the fans, you know, they want so much. You know, they always ask me if there's going to be a third season. And I really don't have an answer.
CHIDEYA: But do you think there would be an racial implications if the show got cancelled?
Mr. ATWOOD: Wow. I, you know what, I try to stay away from it as much as I can. You know, I think the network has brought on "Queer as Folk" and they play a lot, they play the reruns now. And it's almost hard not to. You know, we are an all-black cast. One of the only shows on television, whether it be cable or primetime, that has an all-black cast.
And so, you know, I don't want to say it's racial, but they're kind of making it hard for it not to be something racial.
CHIDEYA: Certainly the whole issue of the DL has been huge in the black community. Do you ever get letters from your fans that say, oh, this was really great. It helped me deal with my sexuality. Or I see a little bit of myself in Wade. What kind of responses have you gotten to that storyline?
Mr. ATWOOD: Oh my God, I've gotten some unbelievable responses. I'm blessed to do autograph signings. And I remember one particular guy who, the first thing he said when he walked up to that table was thank you. You know, because of you I was able to talk to my mother about myself because we sat down together and watched the show. You know, she was then able to indirectly ask me questions about, he said, himself.
CHIDEYA: I have to bring up something that may break the heart of some of your fans.
Mr. ATWOOD: Okay.
CHIDEYA: You heard this. We talked about it before we got started. Keith Boykin, who is a commentator and an author. He wrote "Beyond the Down Low," about the topic that we were just talking about. He interviewed you for his Web site, KeithBoykin.com. And he described you as a straight actor playing a gay role. That may break some hearts of people who are big fans of your show.
But what is it like? He asked the question first. I'm going to go at it again. I remember when Will Smith got flack for doing a kissing scene in "Six Degrees of Separation." There is a lot of complication and a lot of eyes on images of black male sexuality. How do you feel playing the role as your person going in as an actor to play someone of another sexuality.
Mr. ATWOOD: Well, first speaking on Keith Boykin, you know, who - it was a great interview. He took it upon himself to title it the way he wanted to.
CHIDEYA: Are you saying he's wrong?
Mr. ATWOOD: I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm not saying he's right. I'm not here to confirm nor deny my sexuality. It's something that, you know, is personal. It's personal to me and it's personal to most people. I just want to be an actor. I just want to be an actor. And if I can have an impact on someone's life, whether they be gay or straight, you know, that's what I'm trying to do with my career.
And even speaking on the DL phenomenon, I think it's truly been blown out of proportion. You know, there's not this huge group of gay men that are trying to take over the world. Unfortunately our society doesn't allow people to be themselves, and so they have to pretend sometimes in order to be accepted.
CHIDEYA: Speaking of being themselves, you played a very different role in Oprah Winfrey's production of "Their Eyes Were Watching God." That is very much a movie about finding yourself and being yourself. Tell us about what that experience was like.
Mr. ATWOOD: Oh, it was awesome. I mean, you know, to work opposite of an Oscar-winning actress, and that actress being Halle Berry, and to just happened to have a kissing scene. You know, it couldn't have been a better day's work.
CHIDEYA: I'm sure. So what else have you got coming up?
Mr. ATWOOD: Actually I landed a regular role on the series "Las Vegas." The character - it's called Snoop. You can also look for me in a Super Bowl Budweiser spot.
CHIDEYA: You know, we'll keep an eye on you and all of your different projects - "Las Vegas," hopefully the return of "Noah's Arc."
Mr. ATWOOD: Hopefully.
CHIDEYA: Jensen, thank you.
Mr. ATWOOD: Yeah, thank you.
COX: Jensen Atwood plays Wade on the show "Noah's Arc," which airs on the Logo Network. He spoke with NPR's Farai Chideya.
That's our show for today.
(Soundbite of music)
COX: I'm Tony Cox. This is NEWS & NOTES.
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