With the height and stature of a football player, the last words you’d expect to hear from Gary Lavard are shy, laidback or mildly timid. Or, that he never really played sports. I could hardly believe it myself, but those are words he would use to describe himself, at least before joining the cast of About Him.
Like many, I was introduced to him as Vincent, this disarming, self assured, sex fueled character he plays on the web series that chronicles the coming of age story of a young man, Black, trying to discover himself and his sexuality with little help from his father or brother, all set to the backdrop of the 90’s.
Vincent is the guy that I feel like most gay people would try to get with. He’s masculine, he’s confused, and he is all those things I feel a guy is at that point, you know? Trying to find yourself. I really signed on to do that story because I felt that for one it’s a story that’s kind of swept under the rug on mainstream TV. My goal as an actor, I want to do things that are complex and that no one is doing and I felt like it was a good thing and I could impact the LGBT community and so far I’ve gotten a great response.
Lavard is well versed, having been working in the industry for quite some time now. That has to be a benefit because it gives an opportunity to take on a role likes this without having to be boxed in or compartmentalized as an actor. Still, the reality of the situation is that there will be people who don’t necessarily agree with your work, and those are things you have to consider when you’re looking to commit to a project.
That was one of the biggest things in my mind. I don’t want to be type cast and I don’t want this to stop me from doing things but you know what, I’m really big on prayer and I thought it through. I thought about the negative it could bring and I thought about the positive it could bring, and really the positive out weighed the negative. In any character or any film there is always going to be some negative feedback, some flack you get from it and you really just have to choose the story. I ultimately wanted to do this story and then I prayed about it. Everything I do I pray before and if I don’t feel a sense that this is right then I wont do it. I felt right about this project and so the setbacks couldn’t stop me from it
More often than not, in a web series character development can go awry quickly; moreover, a lot of content geared for the LGBT community is overwhelmingly saturated with sex. There is the perception that all we’re interested in is sex and that was a concern of my own as started to watch the series. I quickly identified with Gary and his need to approach the character in a way that would fulfill him as an actor.
So, when I first read the script, I’m not going to lie, I was like hell naw. I’m not doing this, this, or that. Because it was just so overwhelming and you’re putting yourself out there, and in real life I’m a shy type of guy and I don’t do anything just looking for attention so I had to ask myself, do I really want to do this? But I was really vocal about how I felt, and I think that’s why you’ll see as the season went on my character develop, although I do have the sexual aspect of the show it was important for me to really build character because I don’t want to be just recognized as some gay sex symbol. I’m really working to be successful as an actor.
Gary proves that you can still hold onto the person you are and what you believe, even breaking into an industry that seems convinced to tell you otherwise.
I feel like it’s a challenge, this industry, in general is a challenge because everybody wants to do it, without even knowing the logistics behind modeling or acting. I’m a go getting type of person, if I really have my mindset to it; I am going to go after it. My hunger has allowed me to break into the industry because I want it so badly. I think people around me see that, the hunger, and just being consistent. Because people will forget you it’s all about keeping that work ethic and allowing people to see you everywhere.
A student of acting, Gary has said one thing he enjoys most about acting is the ability it gives him to find out more about himself, even with Vincent, a character he feels is vastly different from him.
I feel like through playing Vincent, I discovered that maybe I am a sexual person. I feel like I’m very shy, but through Vincent I’ve discovered this side, like I’m very aggressive, and I do have a side of me that is sexy. With Vincent I feel sexy and I’ve discovered more about me in that aspect.
Going into the conversation I know there was no way I’d let him off that easily, his height alone is reason enough to disagree with the shyness he continues to speak about. But there were lots of laughs and chuckles, as different as they may be; Gary has the same disarming charisma that Vincent does
I got my mind right and just realized what I’m doing. I’m going to have an audience and I wanted to give it 100% I feel like there is a lot of me in the character and I signed the contract so there was no backing out for me.
That kind of drive and passion is necessary to be successful. There is no doubting that this dream is indeed Gary Lavard’s passion
I want to focus on acting and building my brand as an actor. I just have a genuine love for it. I most recently shot a small part in Fast 8 that comes out next year, and I’m working on two projects now, one in Atlanta and one in NY.
It’s not always easiest the transition to align your passion with your purpose, but there are moments that have allowed Lavard to stay the course
I remember being emotional to myself filming the walking dead I went in as an extra and then I was “upgraded” to a zombie so one of main characters had to kill me. It was like that moment for me that kind of defined what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Nobody knew what I was going through, but I was looking myself in the mirror thanking God because some people don’t get that moment to ever know what they want to do and it was very defining for me.
We spent a lot of time talking about acting, but there was even more to know about him. His music choices range from EDM to 90’s RnB. In terms of style and fashion it all comes down to his mood.
I would prefer to be in basketball shorts and t-shirts most of time, but I try and find boutique stores. Traveling there are a few places on Melrose and in New Orleans, so it depends on the city I’m in. I like the H&M’s and Zara’s but it’s to the point where you show up to the party wearing the same thing as everybody else and that aint a good look. I aint gone lie, I love Zara.
We also shared a common love for The Four Agreements, his favorite social media platform is Instagram and while he’s not creeping or crushing on any celebrities he’s hear for a good laugh from gif’s and videos. Yet, that wasn’t the only basis of our shared experiences. We would be completely remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the fact that we are two Black men in America, in a society heightened by racism and the consistent murder of people of color.
For the first time in my life, I actually felt scared. This is really happening. It could have been you; it could have been me, or my best friend. Just the fact that you’re brown, I just can’t really fathom that. I don’t understand that. I’m just like wow. I know in the back of my head that it can happen to me at anytime and it really frightens me man, its really sad just where we are today as people.
Lavard has a personality that is as big and enchanting as his smile. As seriously as he takes the craft of acting, it’s inspiring to see his ability to remain consistent with his personality, charm, and self proclaimed goof appeal. We’re looking forward to seeing him explore the other aspects of his personality on screen. There is no one thing that can deter Gary Lavard, he holds steady to his dream in the midst of naysayers, constant no’s, and the appearance of missed opportunity. Gary is in the business for all the right reasons and in a world that would so easily allow him to rest on his appearance, his focus is seamless. The man has a work ethic that is out of this world, a student at Dillard majoring in Theatre Arts, the About Him season finale tour kicks off next month, he’s filming two projects in two different cities and he still finds time for fun with friends on Instagram. I’m absolutely sure we’ll be seeing the likes of him even sooner than expected.