“I love my Blackness…I love my queerness,” said UnReal star Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman when he stopped by the New Hollywood Podcast. The model-turned-actor stars in the Peabody-winning Lifetime series that is a dramatic — and sometimes comedic — narrative skewering of the popular reality dating competition The Bachelor. 

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When Bowyer-Chapman initially auditioned for the role of Jay in UnReal, the character was not written as gay. In fact, Jay was made to be a shady womanizer. But when showrunner Marti Noxon offered Bowyer-Chapman the role, she said that they decided to make Jay gay — because Bowyer-Chapman’s authentic self was too awesome to not inject into the character. This goes in line with his aim to play queer people of color on television and film.

Bowyer-Chapman’s journey to Hollywood included seeing many white characters on TV, but no one like himself. He connected with fantasy and sci-fi fare like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a show where Noxon served as executive producer and writer) and because of these shows that told narratives that challenged the status quo of the television landscape, he  soon realized that he wanted to celebrate his “otherness” and wanted to encourage others to do the same.

Listen to the episode below as he talks about embracing what makes us different, UnReal (which recently aired its season 3 finale), and his childhood crushes.