“I was terrified. At school I really couldn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t a jock or a nerd,” actor Brian J. Smith told Attitude in an exclusive new interview with the U.K. magazine.
Smith, known for his roles in Sense8 and the new Bourne Saga USA series, Treadstone, comes out as gay in the new cover story, reflecting on growing up in Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where he said there were no support groups for LGBTQ people. “There was absolutely nothing. I was completely alone. I heard all the names: pussy, faggot.”
“I could never be who I was. I was constantly having to check myself and make sure I wasn’t looking at someone too long or making someone feel uncomfortable,” he explains. “I had to be very, very careful about telling people the truth about myself. It still reverberates. A lot of my work is about that. The things that move me as an actor are those echoes that come up.”
Smith appeared on Gossip Girl and The Good Wife, and notably played gay opposite Benjamín Walker in the 2009 film, The War Boys. Even though he had played gay before he tells Attitude he didn’t feel fully comfortable with his sexuality until filming the cult Netflix series, Sense8.
Even though it had a rabid fanbase, the series was canceled after two seasons, and the characters were given a send-off during a two-hour movie finale, Sense8: Together Until The End.
“I remember being so relaxed,” Smith says on filming. “I thought, ‘Finally, I can just be myself, I don’t have to put on airs for any of these people’.”
Looking back on his childhood, Smith wishes there were more people around to tell him he was “perfect” just as he is:
“There weren’t enough people there to say to me: ‘You don’t need to be someone different, you don’t need to change who you are’. What that kid needed was somebody to pick him up and say, ‘You’re perfect as you are, it’s OK.’”