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MW: If you were to give yourself, on leaving My So-Called Life, some advice on moving forward with your career, what would it be?
CRUZ: I probably would have said yes more often than I did. I think what I’ve learned in my old, old age is that that old improv rule is good for life, too. The rule in improvisation is, ”Always say yes.”
I’ve said no to things that I feel strongly about, but I think early on I probably could have said yes to more stuff. I think, early on, you think it’s going to affect the trajectory of your career. And not everything does. Sometimes it’s just about –
MW: Some things are just a role.
CRUZ: Yeah. And sometimes it’s just fun. I should have had more fun early on. I’m having more fun now, I’ll tell you that. I’m having so much more fun in my work than I did then.
MW: What’s the most fun thing you’re doing?
CRUZ: The Finder. It’s like playing. When you’re a kid, and you’re like, ”Let’s play act.” That’s what it’s like. They let me do the most ridiculous – sometimes I do something just to see if I can get away with it, and they love it and they’re like, ”Do more of that!”
Some people are going to think it’s over the top, but I just think it’s funny. And I never get to be funny – not that funny. It’s my chance to be Lucille Ball and Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo all wrapped up in one.
MW: I don’t know if it is possible to really separate it, but do you think it’s harder for young out gay actors or young actors of color to ”break out” in Hollywood today?
CRUZ: It depends on the day. I’m telling you, if you had asked me this last week, I would have said something different. My very first thought when you asked the question was the George Lucas story about the movie he has out now, Red Tails. The fact that people did come right out and tell him, ”No, we’re not going to back this movie because there are no white people in it.” I mean, where else could someone get away with saying that? I think that’s the truth of it, and I applaud Mr. Lucas for going public with it.
I think, in the end, we’re all looked at as dollar signs. Every actor is a dollar sign, and we’re attached to a certain amount of money based on who we are. What color your skin is, and who you have sex with, and if you fit in a certain gender role. The only way that my career could possibly be any harder is if I was a transgender woman. Whoever that is and is doing it – oh, Candis Cayne, she’s got it harder. RuPaul.
It’s not an easy industry to be a part of, but when you get the opportunity to work, it’s magic. And I’m grateful for it, every time. That’s why, whenever I do get work, I just enjoy it – because I don’t know when it’s going to happen again.
MW: One of the things some people have criticized about the push for marriage is whether other issues affecting people with a lower socioeconomic status, and disproportionately affecting LGBT people of color, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, are falling of the charts.
CRUZ: I don’t know who it was, but a group of people decided that marriage was our ticket to everything else. And, where I didn’t completely agree with it – my thing about marriage is that it’s not so much that I need or want to get married. I just don’t want anybody to tell me that I can’t based on the fact that I’m gay.
Do I believe that there are other things that are more important? Of course. I wish that we had put more energy into ENDA than we have. I wish we had put more energy into not getting [the Defense of Marriage Act] to go through in the first place.
I know the thinking behind it. I know the political sense behind it, which is that it helps the larger society see our community and our relationships on equal footing and that that would lead to other things. But I feel like in a lot of ways our community and our movement has said, ”This is the one and only goal at the moment and there isn’t anything else.”
Which is why I work so hard with [Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network], because they’re dealing with youth issues in a way that nobody else is. I think that’s as important, if not more, than marriage equality.
But that’s my personal thing. I don’t even have a boyfriend.
CRUZ: So, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around marriage right now. So, maybe that’s my own myopic point of view. I’m like, ”Can I get a date?” That would be great. I would love to pass a law where I would get a date every week.
MW: Who would that person be?
CRUZ: You know what? If I had the answer to that I would be busy finding him. Good lord.
MW: Well, Claire Danes got Hugh Dancy, so he’s gone.
CRUZ: So cute, that one. You know, if Ryan Gosling wanted to come over to the other side, I’m open to that. Everybody knows that I have a soft – and a hard – place for Joe Manganiello. But who doesn’t? The word ”man” is in his name. I’m just sayin’. But, you know, a girl can dream.
MW: He says, mopping his brow.
CRUZ: I just did, actually. So, if you know anybody, let me know.
MW: We will look for some combination of Ryan Gosling and Joe Manganiello, then you’ll fall over.
CRUZ: Right. I’m – anyway, I’ll let this go. We don’t want this to be my Grindr profile or something.
[Read more about the 24th Creating Change Conference that will be held in Baltimore, MD from January 25-29, 2012.]