In this interview with QNews.com.au Keiynan Lonsdale sits down to talk about his journey to LA from Australia, his time in the spotlight and coming out.
Keiynan Lonsdale first made a splash on the big screen in the Divergent film franchise.
After travelling from Sydney to find his place in LA, things were starting to take off.
It wasn’t until his appearance in Love, Simon in 2018 that he really got our attention.
Clean cut and adorable as Bram, Keiynan Lonsdale stole our hearts as he fell for Simon. Together they delivered the queer fairytale ending we all wanted to see.
Three years on and life has continued to change for Keiynan.
After appearing on a string of TV shows and movies and recording and releasing his own music, he’s coming into his own.
To watch the full interview with Keiynan Lonsdale scroll to the bottom of this page or click HERE to watch.
From Sydney to LA “I didn’t always see myself reflected in Australian content.”
Growing up in Western Sydney with a large family Keiynon Lonsdale aspired to be an actor, singer and dancer.
Having started dancing from six years old he found a passion that saw him into his early years on screen.
Early acting credits in Australia included All Saints and later Dance Academy.
After wrapping Dance Academy Keiynan found himself heading to LA for pilot season.
Leaving behind dreams of success in Australia he sought somewhere new.
“I dreamed of coming here [LA] for a really long time. I felt like I really wanted to be part of the projects over here, I liked the flashiness of it all.” he gushes.
But it was more than just the appeal of America that drew him away from Australian screens.
What he was seeing on Australian scenes, didn’t make him feel like he belonged or was represented.
“I didn’t always see myself reflected in Australian content I didn’t see myself as being told you’re Australian.”
The stark contrast of what was reflected in American vs Australian content was all too apparent for Keiynan.
“I felt that for me to see someone that looked like me on the screen I had to see American content. Same with music, I wasn’t hearing black Australian music either. I had seen America and a lot of black artists really live so boldly and strong.”
Australia, it seemed to Keiynan, didn’t have a place for him just yet.
“I was often in places where I would be the only black kid in the room or in a space. It was made very apparent to me by a lot of people that I was different. So I had this idea about America and its pop culture and its huge grasp on telling stories. I wanted to be a part of it.”
So it was that Keiynan Lonsdale headed for LA. But within just three weeks things were not going as planned.
After a falling out with his management, dropped and left without representation.
It was not until a year later that he returned to LA. With a new Australian management team who believed in him he managed to secure success.
Keiynan Lonsdale on the importance of queer people in queer roles.
The first big break for Keiynan arrived with a role in the Divergent film series.
This was the launching point that would see him catapult into mainstream success and cement his place in his new home.
With dreams of a music career put aside, he continued to develop his craft. As the actor Keiynan Lonsdale, he progressed from role to role.
After appearing in The Flash television series he landed the role which placed him front and centre in the queer universe.
Playing opposite Nick Robinson in the queer rom-com Love, Simon saw Keiynan capture our hearts on the big screen
There’s no denying the cultural significance of the film and its place in queer cinema history.
After coming out in his time after the film Keiynan has continued to fill queer spaces as a queer performer. Which is something he finds important.
“I think the whole point of storytelling is you want to tell something from an authentic space. You want it to be the real voice.”
“Even when telling queer stories, led by queer people. There’s still going to be an amount of influence that comes from people that are not of those voices. Who have not had those experiences, trying to dictate what your story is.”
But equally, he reflects on the importance of filling those spaces with queer voices, but also sharing them. Telling our stories together.
“I think that for us as queer people it’s incredibly important that we fill those roles.”
“I also think that it’s important that straight actors can play queer as well. But not at the loss of people be truly represented.”
It’s not something he takes lightly. There’s a deep understanding from Keiynan that he knows the importance of queer voices and queer representation and it’s something he’s proud to be a part of.
“I think it’s about people coming together and I’m really stoked and amazed and honoured that I get to be in this position to tell these stories. To be a part of them. To live the experience of going through these questions and certain suffering. Then learning about it and being part of stories that get to be part of light in that space for others. It’s a real gift, I pinch myself all the time that this is what I get to do.”
In 2021 he is again filling that space with his latest work, another mainstream queer rom-com, My Fake Boyfriend.
Starring opposite Sarah Hyland and Dylan Sprouse this film offers a lighter view of the queer world.
Desperate to shed an unpleasant past relationship he enlists the help of his friends who create a fake online boyfriend, as you do.
The struggles developed when his character is faced with the dilemma of falling for a real person.
What follows is the comedic fallout of trying to get rid of a boyfriend, who doesn’t exist.
My Fake Boyfriend, set for release in the near future.
Rhythm and Music; “You can’t control someone’s heartbeat.’
While the rest of the world may be sitting still, the same can’t be said for Keiynan Lonsdale.
With his new film in the works, he’s also picking up his singing and dancing career. Which have played second fiddle to his acting in recent years.
Despite having trained as a dancer since he was six, when his film roles came along they stole the focus for his career.
“I’d forgotten along the way.” He laughs. “I forgot that I was a dancer.”
But with new music in the works, Keiynan found a new passion for his dance work.
“I found all these old dance videos and everything and I realised that’s who I am.”
With that, he set to work on his latest musical release, Rhythm and Music. His 9th single since 2014.
The end result is an upbeat, sultry, sexy, man-on-man dance hit that embraces all its queer glory.
However, the song is about lots of things he gushes.
“One part is about exploring open relationships and non-monogamy. Having this kind of excited frustration about it and rebellious nature about it.”
The film clip also puts his dance skills frot and centre. “It’s also just like wanting to be able to dance at your own pace and your own way be the master of your own kind of rhythm.”
But the song is definitely more than just a dance hit, the message is important to Keiynan. “You can’t control someone’s heartbeat, that’s the message of the song.”
“I have a lot of love, everyone has a lot of love. We cover it up and we shame it and we lock it up and we control it. We do all these things and it results in all such crazy shit that we do to each other and ourselves.”
“The song is kind of trying to cheekily be like, there’s another way and perhaps we don’t have to get so jealous with each other and perhaps we can have fun and open up another pathway with each other.
It’s another independent release for Keiynan, something that allows him the freedom to make the work he wants to.
“I needed and wanted to protect my own voice because in the past I’ve been so easily swayed to do what pleased other people.”
“I feel like as an artist in order to grow and as a human in order to grow, it’s important for me to be independent.”
How Drag Race helped Keiynan Lonsdale on his coming out journey
Having just released Love, Simon and only recently coming out publicly on Instagram, the iconic opportunity arrived.
Seemingly out of the blue Keiynan Lonsdale requested to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4.
In what was arguably one of the most awkward Snatch Game episodes in history he held his own.
But it was an experience he had never expected. “They had reached out and I couldn’t believe it. That was an amazing experience.”
His appearance on the program followed so closely to his coming out, that it proved a beautiful experience for him.
“I’d only been out for a really short amount of time.”
“I hadn’t seen the show because I was doing everything in my power to hide who I was. So it was an amazing opportunity to then get the gift of being front row.”
Throughout filming, loved and supported in his own journey. “Again I took it as another blessing of allowing me a gift of coming more into myself. Just like the queens do and it was a learning opportunity for me. ”
Producers and queens on the show allowed him to find himself in the space and he loved it.
“It was a very overwhelming, emotional, magical, experience,” he says fondly. “I felt really taken care of and honoured. It was cool that they believed and trusted in me to be there.”
In the months prior he had come out to the public, taking to Instagram with his message. But it wasn’t something that he ever really planned to be part of the Keiynan Lonsdale narrative.
His story eventually took on a life of its own.”It was really positive.” He says.
“To be completely honest I came out on Instagram and I wasn’t planning on talking about it in any interviews or anything. I wasn’t actually planning on talking about it as much as I did. I was asked on a live interview to speak about it and at that moment I realised that I’d actually come out, I was like oh my god.”
But it’s been a positive journey for Keiynan. Friends, family and the public have supported him along the way. Of the support, he says he was “blown away by the positivity.”
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Keiynan Lonsdale.
You can watch all of our interviews below.
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