Georgia native Lee Osorio hasn’t appeared in many roles in Atlanta theater – yet. But his latest one is a humdinger as the gay actor takes on the role of a gay man watching his gal pals get married off.
He plays Jordan in “Significant Other,” the latest production from Actor's Express. It's playwright Joshua Harmon's look at a New York gay man impatiently looking for his own partner as his friends get hitched one by one. It’s a role the 31-year-old actor wanted just as soon as he dug into the script.
Project Q Atlanta caught up with Osorio to discuss what he sees in the character, how Grindr has ruined dating for gay man and how he formed such a convincing rapport with his female castmates.
How long have you been in Atlanta?
This time, about four weeks now. I grew up in Georgia in Lumpkin and in Eatonton and in Marietta, and I went away for school and have been gone for a little while. I did an apprenticeship at Shakespeare Tavern, where I did “Romeo and Juliet,” and then went away again. This is my first time back really in about seven years. I am back until at least October, when I am doing a show at the Alliance Theatre. I am living the peripatetic actor life, but Atlanta is home for now.
How did the role come up?
I have been a big fan of Actor’s Express for a long time. The work they do is great. I went to go see “The Whale” last year and hung out and talked to (Actor’s Express artistic director) Freddie Ashley. We were talking about the next season. He sent me the script for “Significant Other” and I loved it. I taped an audition and sent it to him. They asked me to be in the show from the audition.
How do you see Jordan?
Jordan and I are a lot alike. A lot of people my age, especially gay men and women, have the fear that we won’t actually find someone to spend our lives with. In three consecutive months, there have been three weddings that I’ve had or will have. And I’ve gone to each alone, which is Jordan’s story – not being able to find someone. It’s a story I can definitely relate to.
What are the challenges of dating in the gay community?
Technology has made things more difficult for gay men to date. The focus on the immediate gratification over long term investment makes it difficult to actually connect. Apps like Grindr and Tinder and Scruff focus on the immediate gratification but it’s not always easy to turn a hookup into a long-term relationship. And the way our society is set up now, everyone is so career focused. There are a lot of transients which make it hard to find connection.
When did you meet Joshua Harmon?
Once I found out I was cast, I emailed him to see if I could set up coffee with him. I was in and out of New York. We met in a coffee shop and talked about some of the pitfalls of the play. I think it’s easy to look at Jordan and see someone who is neurotic or turn him into someone who throws a giant pity party for himself. But he is a fighter. Like a lot of my gay friends who are still single, like myself, there is still hope that things will change, that he will find someone. He is fighting to hold onto his friends and the hope that things will get better someday. Joshua is smart and incredibly funny and yet has the ability to pull on your heartstrings, in a punch-you-in-the-gut kind of way. His plays essentially have it all. They feel very contemporary in the language and he creates very relatable characters.
How did you form such a bond with Diany Rodriguez, Cara Mantella and Brittany Inge?
I met Diany Rodriguez (who plays best friend Laura) at a Christmas party a long time ago but we didn’t get a chance to talk. The whole cast, we all met doing some publicity photos. We went to Superior Donut after and talked about our lives and recognized what a special group of people we were. That is how our friendship started.
Is there a difference in how gay audiences and straight audiences see this?
Loneliness is something everyone can relate to. The challenges I spoke about earlier make it unique to the gay community. It’s hard to find someone. Fifty percent of the population is of the gender you desire, more or less, and most of them are straight. A smaller portion of them are even available and a smaller portion are interested in you. It gets harder and harder for members of the queer community to find someone.
Do you have a significant other?
I do not!
What are you looking for in one?
I think I am looking for what Jordan is looking for – someone who can be a best friend. That is what we are all looking for!
“Significant Other” runs through June 16 at Actor’s Express.
[photos by BreeAnne Clowdus]