'High School Musical' Director Says Disney Wasn't Ready For A Gay Character In 2006

Written by on July 1, 2020

The director and choreographer of Disney’s “Excessive College Musical” says he all the time noticed one of many authentic trilogy’s characters as a part of the LGBTQ neighborhood, although it was by no means addressed onscreen.

In a Selection interview printed Tuesday, Kenny Ortega revealed that the character of Ryan Evans (performed by Lucas Grabeel) was conceived as a homosexual teen. Together with the remainder of the Disney Channel movie’s inventive workforce, he finally “determined he’s most likely going to come back out in faculty.” 

Although Ortega praised Disney as “essentially the most progressive group of individuals I’ve ever labored with,” he mentioned he didn’t assume the corporate would’ve supported the concept of portraying Ryan as brazenly homosexual in 2006, when the unique “Excessive College Musical” was produced. 

“I used to be involved as a result of it was household and children, that Disney may not be able to cross that line and transfer into that territory but,” mentioned Ortega, who’s homosexual. “So, I simply took it upon myself to make decisions that I felt that those that have been watching would seize. They might see it, they’d really feel it, they’d understand it and they might determine with it. And that’s what occurred.” 

As for a way Ryan was portrayed within the movie and its two sequels, he added, “It was much less about popping out and simply extra about letting his true colours come ahead.” 

Lucas Grabeel, who played Ryan Evans, at the premiere of Disney's "High School Musical 2" in 2007. 

Lucas Grabeel, who performed Ryan Evans, on the premiere of Disney’s “Excessive College Musical 2” in 2007. 

“Excessive College Musical” followers had lengthy theorized that Ryan was homosexual due to his pursuits and style decisions, although the character by no means clarified his sexuality. 

On the subject of LGBTQ characters, tv has made progressive strides within the 14 years for the reason that debut of “Excessive College Musical.” The present’s most quick successor was Fox’s “Glee,” which made anti-LGBTQ bullying and popping out central to its narrative when it premiered in 2009. 

And final 12 months, Disney Plus unveiled “Excessive College Musical: The Musical: The Sequence,” a 10-episode collection reboot of the franchise that featured an brazenly homosexual character. 

Performed by Frankie A. Rodriguez, Carlos is a pupil choreographer on the Salt Lake Metropolis highschool the place the unique “Excessive College Musical” was filmed. One of many debut season’s later episodes even hints at a romantic relationship between Carlos and one other character, Seb (Joe Serafini). 

Ortega, who additionally choreographed “Soiled Dancing” and “Hocus Pocus” in addition to concert events and movies for Michael Jackson and Madonna, instructed Selection Tuesday {that a} queer aesthetic is current in all of his work, whether or not apparent or not. 

“I put plenty of who I’m into my work,” he mentioned. “I imply, actually all the best way again from the earliest work that I’ve achieved, at the same time as a choreographer in movie and tv. And I feel, yeah, that it’s simply there, and whether or not it’s screaming at you, or whether or not it’s simply type of quietly there, it’s there.” 

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