DC Interview: Nick Rodriguez Gets "Help" and a Powerful Gay Bashing Storyline on One Life to Live
Nicholas Rodriguez doesn't need any help selling his amazing scenes as passionate, gay activist Nick Chavez on ABC Daytime's One Life to Live. Fortunately for us, the Broadway alum's character on the new web soap Then We Got Help! can't say the same.
In the dramedy, offically premiering today, from brilliant writer/actress Julie Ann Emery (Hitch), Rodriguez portrays Dan, one half of a gay couple (Broadway great Blake Hammond plays Dan's partner Eric), who is upset about his overweight partner's lack of concern about his health issues. Dan and Eric are one of four couples who are participating in shoe model-turned-documentary maker Emily's (Emery) experimental non-therapy therapy group.
Don't think Rodriguez is worried about being typecast. The good-natured, charming thespian and budding activist (he's a big fan of Nelson Mandela) says he's proud to be playing two diverse gay characters at the same time.
I recently caught up with Rodriguez as he was preparing to head over to the Irish Rogue in New York for Then We Got Help!'s premiere bash. We chatted in depth about the insanely-funny, and all-too-real web series (think In Therapy meets Modern Family), whether or not his BFF status wit Venice co-writer Hope Royaltey could lead to Rodriguez appearing on a second web soap, and the powerful work the actor is doing opposite the likes of Brett Claywell, Scott Evans, Tia Dionne Hodge and Emmy-winner Susan Haskell as Nick Chavez begins a lengthy struggle to overcome a brutal gay bashing on One Life to Live.
Daytime Confidential: How did your role in Then We Got Help! come about?
Nicholas Rodriguez:I had worked with Julie [Ann Emery]'s husband [actor Kevin Earley] before in LA, and so when I talked to her and she said, "You know, I'm doing this thing on the web" I told her I would totally love to do it and literally from day one, I knew it was going to be great! Julie is such a pro. She comes from primetime and film, so I knew it was going to be done right, and I had been talking with a really good friend of mine, who was doing a web series called Venice, and she told me I should do it.
DC: No kidding? Which friend? I recently did an interview with Crystal Chappell [Venice's producer/star] for Curve magazine!
NR: Hope Royaltey. She's is a a really good friend of mine. She's one of the writers.
DC: Yeah, I'm familiar with Hope. Cool, small world! So, maybe in addition to Then We Got Help! could see you popping up on Venice?
NR: You know, you never know! I am looking for any excuse to go to L.A. [laughs].
DC: So tell me about Then We Got Help!
NR: Well, the premise is that four couples, who can't afford couples therapy, agree to participate in group sessions with Emily, played by Julie Ann Emery, who is actually a shoe model [Laughs]. Julie's character is documenting their progress. My character, Dan, is the youngest. He's studying to be a nutritionist and is into sports, and his partner Eric is severely overweight. They come into the sessions with this as their problem, but as the series goes on, you see that they have many other problems, as do all of the couples.
DC: You've done Broadway. What's it like working with Broadway veteran Blake Hammond?
NR: Oh it's great! Blake has done six or seven amazing Broadway shows. I was already hooked on the show once I read Julie's script, but when I learned Blake was in it, I was totally sold.
DC: I know you're relatively new to soaps, but there seems to be quite a few daytime stars jumping to the web. With all the headlines about soaps dying, do you feel the Internet will be a viable and profitable place for soap actors to continue working?
NR: You know, I feel acting is acting. Whether you are doing it on the stage, or on a soap opera, in primetime, movies, or on the web. Any chance you have to share your craft is a privilege. If you can find a story you want to tell, whatever the medium, then yes, there's a place for it.