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Lucas Grabeel Says He Wouldn't Play Gay High School Musical Character If the Film Was Made Now

Lucas Grabeel Wouldn't Play Gay 'High School Musical' Character Now

Lucas Grabeel Wouldn't Play Gay 'High School Musical' Character Now

"...the last thing I want to do is take an opportunity away from other people."

byraffy

Although the role of musical theater kid Ryan was one of the most memorable parts of the original High School Musical franchise, it looks like actor Lucas Grabeel would have second thoughts about playing him if the film was made in this day and age.

During a recent interview with TMZ, Lucas went on the record and talked about how if the popular mid-2000s Disney Channel original movie series was made in the current entertainment climate, he wouldn't want to take away an opportunity from an openly gay actor to play the role of Sharpay's (Ashley Tisdale) twin brother and theater lover.

"There’s so many amazingly talented gay actors that could do it as well, so if High School Musical was made today, I don’t know if I would play Ryan," Lucas told TMZ. "I would love to, but the last thing I want to do is take an opportunity away from other people."

He continued, admitting:

"As a straight white man, I know that even without trying, I have taken opportunities away from other people."

Lucas also reminisced about talking to openly gay choreographer-director Kenny Ortega about the Ryan character, and how although queer representation on mainstream TV was a lot different back in 2006 when the original HSM movie was released, they had an incredible opportunity to do something for LGBTQ+ audiences.

"I came up to Kenny one day and was like 'Hey, so can we talk about the character for a second? Ryan’s gay, right?'" he said. "He [Kenny] was like 'Well, I mean, it’s a touchy subject sometimes with children’s programming, I’m not sure if Disney is ready now for that kind of thing. I absolutely agree that he is and I think we have an opportunity here to showcase a real person.'"

Just last week, Ortega revealed in an interview with Variety that although they couldn't explicitly say anything about his sexuality on-screen, Ryan was indeed a part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

"The character of Ryan in High School Musical, Sharpay’s twin brother, we decided he’d probably going to come out in college," he said when asked about the very queer aesthetic found in all of his movies. "It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward."

When asked about whether he thinks it would be possible for Ryan to have been openly game at the time the first film was released back in 2006, Ortega continued: "I have to be honest with you. I didn’t think at the time — and Disney is the most progressive group of people I’ve ever worked with."

"I was concerned because it was family and kids, that Disney might not be ready to cross that line and move into that territory yet," he said. "So, I just took it upon myself to make choices that I felt that those who were watching would grab. They would see it, they would feel it, they would know it and they would identify with it. And that is what happened."

While we can't imagine anyone else besides Lucas playing the role of Ryan, it's nice to know that given the opportunity now, he'd let and help an actual queer actor get their time to shine!  

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Raffy Ermac

Digital Director, Out.com

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel