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Agencies won’t recommend gay roles to actors

13 March 2006

Agencies won’t recommend gay roles to actors

Brokeback Mountain might have got Heath Ledger topping the Oscars nomination charts and be packing theatres around the world, but New Zealand acting agencies don’t think Kiwi bloke actors want roles portraying them as “being affectionate” to other men.

Wellington film-maker Andy Boreham, who is preparing a gay safe sex film and print resource for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, has been stymied by acting agencies who don’t want to put his offer of work to the male actors on their books.

In an interview published by gay news website, Boreham said every agency he spoke to turned him down, stating that they didn’t believe their actors would want to take part in a gay campaign.

"They just said they doubted their clients would be comfortable with being in a cinema and print campaign showing them (being) affectionate with another man,” he said. “They said a cinema commercial on its own might be fine but that print material 'hangs around a lot longer'."

The AIDS Foundation has contracted Boreham to produce the resource for delivery at “Out Takes 2006 – a reel queer film festival” which tours Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from May 25 to June 14. The festival attracts a lot of gay and bisexual men and the Foundation is keen to get its message through at a time when record levels of new HIV diagnoses among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) have been reported in New Zealand – 89 MSM were diagnosed with HIV in new Zealand in 2005, the highest number ever and a 19% increase on 2004.

To get the resource done in time Boreham has had to turn to word-of-mouth contacts, bypassing the agencies who weren’t willing to even give their actors an opportunity to consider the roles.

NZAF is concerned that such a patronising position taken by the agencies deprives good kiwi actors of work, when they understand that acting a gay man doesn’t mean they are any more gay than Heath Ledger.


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