When it comes to showcasing LGBTQ-inclusive stories for a mainstream audience, Dan Levy aims to “lead by example.”
The Canadian actor and writer has earned near-universal accolades for “Schitt’s Creek,” now filming its sixth and final season. Speaking at the 2019 GLAAD Gala San Francisco on Saturday, however, Levy recalled how his early experiences coming to terms with his sexuality fueled his interest in using his creativity to impact Hollywood for the better.
“Standing up here, it’s hard not to think back to a very specific time in my life when I was still in the closet,” said Levy, who accepted GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award for his LGBTQ advocacy work. “I was in high school (in Toronto), I had a bad faux-hawk because the first ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie had just come out and I thought Tom Cruise was a real drink of water.” (Watch the full speech in the video above.)
Not living honestly and authentically, he added, came at a deeply personal cost.
“I legitimately thought that I would have to live with this secret — my being gay — for the rest of my life because I didn’t have the security of seeing a lot of people like myself being celebrated in popular culture,” he said.
Levy ― the son of actor Eugene Levy and screenwriter Deborah Divine Levy ― came to rely on his family’s “fierce and unconditional” love for support before coming out at 18. Others, he said, have not been so fortunate.
“Had I not had the love to give me a sense of security, I don’t know if I would have found my way out of the closet, let alone create the opportunity for myself to tell stories on television that have effected some kind of positive change in the world,” he said. “Support, encouragement and love: three relatively simple acts of kindness that can change the course of a person’s life.”
A desire to pay it forward, he said, was the impetus that led to the creation of “Schitt’s Creek,” in which he stars as David, a fashion-forward, pansexual man engaged to a gay man, Patrick (Noah Reid). And though “Schitt’s Creek” will be coming to a close after its sixth season airs next year, Levy pledged to continue incorporating LGBTQ-inclusive narratives in his future projects.
“I promise to continue to do my part in celebrating this radiant community in all the work that I do, big and small,” the 36-year-old said.
Levy’s profile in Hollywood has risen exponentially since “Schitt’s Creek” became available for streaming on Netflix in 2017, two years after its debut on the little-known U.S. cable network Pop TV.
Earlier this month, he signed a three-year deal to develop and produce new projects with Disney’s ABC Studios.