Brando Eaton talks about playing a gay high schooler on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”
ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager will have its third season premiere on Monday.
I had the chance to chat with cast member Brando Eaton about the show on which he plays the role of gay teen Griffin.
American Teenager focuses on the relationships between families and friends and how they deal with issues including teen pregnancy. Its cast also includes Shailene Woodley, Molly Ringwald, Mark Derwin and India Eisley, among others.
Brando, 23, juggled last season’s episodes with a recurring role as the son of a serial killer played by John Lithgow on the Showtime series Dexter.
“I’ve done two shows at once in the past and it can be really, really difficult because they have to account for turnaround schedule for their production and not the other production so you could go from set to set. Once I was up for over 48 hours from set to set to set. The days just blend together. But not for [Dexter and American Life]. They were able to work it out. I had to go back and forth a few times but it wasn’t that difficult.”
Sometimes actors are surprised to find out that their TV characters turn out to be gay but not Brando. It’s what he signed up for: “He was gay from the start and he was very open with it. I think it’s a great character. They didn’t want it to be too big a deal, they kind of played in non-chalantly. He’s very open, he’s very okay with it.”
He said it “absolutely, 100 percent” reflects how many young people feel today about gay friends: “Nowadays it’s not as big a deal as it was in the past when, of course, it as a huge deal. By playing it on television and not making it a big deal I think it does help when all these people watch it. It makes it less scary for people who are gay to come out.”
Reaction from fans has been hugely favorable: “I’ve gotten a lot of fan mail from young gay guys who are like, ‘Thank you so much for portraying that character. It made me feel so much better. It seemed to really touch and affect a lot of people in a great way and it gives them confidence. It’s actually been very touching and very nice to be a part of that.”
I wondered if Brando will have a love interest this season.
Says Brando: “There seems to be talks about it where my character may want to have [a boyfriend] where in the past he had talked about maybe wanting to stay single. So I think they are considering the idea of that.”
Brando is not only a thoughtful and articulate young actor, he’s also very much in demand. He’s had roles in the films Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach starring Seann William Scott and first came to fame in the role of Vince on the series Zoey 101.