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Get to Know Michael J. Willett, Star of MTV's Faking It

Get to Know Michael J. Willett, Star of MTV's 'Faking It'

Get to Know Michael J. Willett, Star of MTV's 'Faking It'

The Faking It star hopes to make his mark in the world of acting and music. 


Although he's not quite a household name (yet), you've probably already seen gay actor Michael J. Willet star as Tanner Daniels in the teen cult favorite G.B.F. You've also probably seen him star as Shane on MTV's hit LGBT-centric TV show Faking It, which is set to begin its new season soon. 

But there is more to Michael than just a handsome face and some top-billed appearances in hit movies and TV shows. Besides his blossoming acting career, he has a love for music (he's working on releasing an album in the near future) and he has a lot of opinions when it comes to LGBT youth and the way they should be represented in mainstream media.

We chatted with the Faking It star, and he dished on the season premiere, his biggest musical influences, and what it's like being a young gay person in a country where it's perfectly legal to be with the person you love.


PRIDE: Are you excited for the newest season of Faking It? What’s in store for Shane?

Michael J. Willett: I’m very excited. It’s much more drama this season. It picks up for Shane, he had just outed Duke, and now he has to sort of live with the guilt while simultaneously being in a relationship with Duke, so it’s very difficult for him and it sort of challenges their relationship and you’re gonna see a much more vulnerable side of Shane in the next ten episodes.

How do you feel playing an openly gay character on a popular TV show that is all about the LGBT community? In generations past, that would never even be a thing, but in this day and age, there are so many LGBT-friendly TV shows.

I’m really proud because I started going to LA and auditioning when I was 13, and there weren’t roles like this. Not that I was necessarily wanting to play roles like this, there just weren’t any. And so it’s really cool to be at a point in my life where I’m comfortable with myself and people are accepting of me. I think it’s a new generation, and I think we’re moving in the right direction, but there’s still things that need changing. But most importantly, I feel honored.

What’s it like being on a show where being LGBT isn’t always such a taboo thing, like it is in some high schools and communities all over the country?

I think that that’s what makes our show innovative, but I also think that’s what kind of makes it controversial. There is a group of people who don’t want to see it as normal, and we’re normalizing the gay experience. I think, to the dinosaurs that don’t get that, it is controversial. But for everyone else, it’s very normal and it seems relatable. I feel like it’s exactly what should be happening. Even with the movie G.B.F. I did, people felt the same way. They felt like it was controversial because we were normalizing the gay experience. I feel like we’re doing the right thing. If we’re pissing people off, then we’re doing something right.

Do think that Hollywood is making great strides to show that being LGBT is normal?

I do. But I’m also seeing it as a trend right now. I guess that’s the best way to put it, it’s a trend. I would like it to balance out somehow, where it’s not like "OK, we have to include the gay character, that’s what’s in right now," but because it’s normal. Because there are gay people in the world. You know what I mean? So I’m hoping that, as much as we’re making big strides forward, there’s still work to be done. There are new challenges.

michael-j-willett-3(Courtesy of Brad Everett Young)

Do you think it’s more of a good thing or more of a bad thing, in terms of representation of gay people?

I don’t like to classify anything as good or bad, really. I think it is problematic, and I think there are pitfalls because it is a thing that we don’t want. I don’t want to be a commodity. I just want to be a friend or an actor. I don't want to be a gay actor. But then I also see that it’s bringing exposure and awareness to something that historically has not been talked about or exposed, and so that is always good. It has its place. It has its pitfalls.

As a young person, what’s it like living in a country where you are free to get married anywhere you want?

For me, it was a symbol showing that we are an accepting nation, and I feel like any society that accepts gay people is probably a gentle one. To think of my country as accepting in a way that they have never been, it’s romantic to me. I’m very proud.

Young people, gay or straight, don’t always have marriage on their minds. In fact, it’s not a priority. As a young gay person, though, how does the idea of marriage sound to you?

It’s so funny, I’ve gone back and forth so many times in my life where I was like "Oh, yes, absolutely I’m going to get married!" and then I was like "I don’t know if that’s for me." I guess right now it’s more important that I’m in a good relationship, and that if marriage happens for me. then that’s cool. I’m all for it. But I don’t know, I don’t think it’s for everyone, necessarily.

If you could be anyone’s GBF in real life, who would it be and why?

Gwen Stefani, because that could actually happen, and … I did this personality test where it said that we’d be 100 percent compatible. I pick her. She’s like my best friend.michael-j-willett-4(Courtesy of Brad Everett Young)

In terms of your blossoming music career, what’s next? What’s going to be next after "Started Over"?

I am continuing to write and record this album that I’ve actually separated into three EPs. It just makes more sense, narratively speaking. It’s going to be real exciting. I’m hoping to come out with it in the next couple months. It’s hard for me to finish these things because I am sort of a perfectionist, and I don’t want to just come out with something quickly and have it be half-assed. I’m taking my time, but it should be out in the next couple of months, for sure.

How do you find a balance between your music career and your acting career?

It does become problematic when I’m shooting, but I have had some downtime, and so I’ve been able to focus on it exclusively. Being creative is always beneficial. I feel like I’ll be working on one project and it’ll feed another project, so it’s never like difficult to juggle anything. I actually find it more difficult not to be doing anything. I always need to be creating something. Even if I don’t come out with anything, I’m sure I’ll be working on something.

Describe your music to someone who is looking for a new artist to listen to.

The foundation of my style is very Freddie Mercury. I have a huge love of Queen, but I also grew up in a generation where Green Day was really popular, so I feel like it’s sort of the hybrid between those two inspirations. It’s very high-energy. There’s even a touch of No Doubt in there. But what I believe is that music should be accessible. It’s what brings people together, so as much as my sound is very unique, I believe that it is accessible and relatable.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Green Day, No Doubt. Those are probably my main ones, but I’ve been told that my vocal range sounds kind of like the Beach Boys or Frankie Valli, so it’s a very eclectic mix of interests. I feel like I have this belief that because everyone has a whole iTunes library of different styles of music, that they should all just be fused into one. That’s kind of what I’m doing. That’s my belief.

Dream collab?

Probably Gwen Stefani. I’ve written stuff for her in my head, and I feel like we could do a duet together, or something. But she’s my ultimate. I love her. And she’s the epitome of what it means to be cool.

What’s harder for you to do? Music or TV?

That’s a good question. They’re very different. My music is an expression of myself. Whereas working on TV and film and acting is an expression of someone else. I am interpreting a character and as much as it is influenced by me, I’m also facilitating someone else’s vision. The director, the writer, the studio. So that’s the biggest difference. What’s difficult about it is that in my own art there’s no time frame and there’s no schedule, so I get to create whenever I want. Whereas, I’m very busy and the schedule becomes very difficult when I’m shooting, and that’s probably the biggest difficulty. But I also like the structure.

Do you have favorite? Do you like music more or TV more?

I think my first love is music, just because nothing makes me feel the way music does. It puts me on such a deep level, whereas TV and film, while it can be thoughtful, and meaningful, I feel like it’s mostly entertaining. They’re just different.

Being openly gay and playing openly gay characters, what advice would you give to our young LGBT readers who aren’t as open as they want to be on how to be open and honest with themselves and the world around them?

I feel like you can be as open as you want to be. That is my true belief in America. If you don’t want to be post your sexuality on Facebook, then you don’t have to. What’s more important is being comfortable with who you are, and I don’t think that is limited to the gay community. I think that is everyone’s plight. To become more comfortable with who they really are and to be more authentic. I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of people being as gay as they possibly can because that’s like a stereotype. I would rather somebody be so themselves that they’re better for it. I learned that people like you more when you are more yourself.michael-j-willett-5(Courtesy of Brad Everett Young)

Faking It Season 2B premieres on Monday, August 31 at 9:30 pm on MTV. Are you excited? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!

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Raffy Ermac

Digital Director,

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