As part of the buzz campaign leading up to its June 7 premiere, the first episode of Netflix‘s Tales of the City revival was screened at the Los Angeles LGBT Center this week. Afterwards, members of the cast sat down for a panel discussion about the hotly-anticipated new show.
Charlie Barnett plays Ben Marshall, Mouse’s love interest, in the series revival. Some of his other TV credits include Orange is the New Black, Russian Doll, Chicago Fire, and Law & Order: SVU. He has also appeared in a handful of LGBTQ-themed indy films, including Gayby and Private Romeo.
When asked about bringing Black gay representation to Tales of the City, the out 31-year-old actor replied, “It’s incredibly amazing, of course. I was at home with my partner going over this question trying to figure out how to … answer it. It’s incredible and I think we all know that, having that opportunity.”
“It was the first time I saw a man who looked like me and he was definitely open about his sexuality.”
He added, “That person understood who I was and I understood who they were. It gave me so many stepping stones to understanding my own emotions.”
Barnett, who came out when he was 13, added that being gay has often helped him as an actor.
“I’m incredibly thankful to have been born this way,” he explained. “It’s given me unbelievable gifts, and I know that each of my characters that I work on that are gay have some of those things that we would have to fight for–even today that I would have to fight for.”
“It’s built up a certain kind of ability in myself as an artist that I’m forever f*cking grateful for.”
Watch the trailer for the Tales of the City revival below.