Move over Kish. Make room Nuke, there's a new gay soap opera supercouple in the making, "Treliot" aka Truth and Eliot played respectively by Damien Wigfall and Preston Davis in Buppies, the hot-like-fiya web sudser about the life and times of a group of well-heeled African-American socialites, currently airing on BET.com.
In Buppies, Eliot (Davis) is a quiet, slightly meek sports agent, dating Priscilla (Robin Thede), a sistah even Whitney Gilbert would have called sadity, whose life is rocked to the core when Truth (Wigfall), a hot shot NFL star, shows up at a birthday party held for Priscilla's best friend Quincy (Tatyana Ali), and quickly makes it known that he still has power over him. The final shot of episode 4 of Buppies saw the manipulative Truth (think a black, gay JR Ewing-in-training) leaning in to kiss a stunned Eliot.
I caught up with Davis and Wigfall to chat about what it's like going gay for BET.com's premiere, scripted web series. After you read the interview, be sure to check out today's episode of Buppies at 3 pm ET at BET.com!
Daytime Confidential: Preston, in Buppies, you play the role of Eliot David a sports agent, dating snobby magazine editor Priscilla, played by Robin Thede; Eliot also shares a secret past with sports star Truth (Damien Wigfall). What attracted you to this character?
Preston Davis:I think what attracted me to playing Eliot was the same thing that I was most afraid of. In this industry there’s still a stigma attached to playing gay characters, and a lot people advise against it. But I didn’t become an actor to support other people’s fears and insecurities. That’s just not who I am as a man or an artist. So, even though I was hesitant at first, I took a couple steps back and really thought about the kind of career I wanted and what I’d be compromising if I walked away from such a beautifully written piece of work. My goal is to be a true artist and part of that for me is helping reveal the endless realities of the young black male.
DC: Damien, Truth seems to be holding something from their shared past over Preston's head in the first four webisodes. Do you enjoy being the pot stirrer on the soap?
Damien Wigfall: Absolutely, the pot stirrers are the best parts to play.
DC: Was this the first time either of you had played a gay character?
PD: This is my first time on screen, but I’ve been a theater actor for the last 8 years, so I’ve played a wide range of characters.
DW: No, but this is the first time the part really took it there.
DC: Preston, who is the better kisser, Robin or Damien?
PD: Well, Damien didn't shave that day, so Robin definitely wins by two soft cheeks and some very soft lips.
DC: You're doing an impressive job playing the crux of Eliot's dilemma. What does the fear in Eliot's eyes when he sees Truth represent?
PD: Eliot sees the life he’s built crashing down and feels the need to protect it. At the end of the day, I think he truly loves Priscilla, and doesn't want to lose her. For women, a secret like that is much more accepted, but Eliot knows that for a guy that sort of thing can be a total game changer.
DC: Damien, Buppies' Truth is your first big credited role. What do you make of all the media attention that has been given the show?
DW: The reality is that actors in this business face constant rejection. You end up auditioning for a lot of roles that aren’t written for someone like you just because you’re so passionate about acting. But when Buppies came along I knew it was written for someone like me. I was excited. And now that it's doing well, I'm simply grateful. You have to be.
DC:Preston, Buppies isn't the only Hollywood-skewering dramedy you're affiliated with. You also have a recurring role as Jeff on HBO's Entourage. Is it refreshing to be part of a show that peels back the layers on black Hollywood, the way Entourage does with mainstream Hollywood?
PD: It’s not just refreshing, it’s like a dream come true. As an actor these are the types of projects you wish and hope for. Seriously, you wouldn't believe how many roles black actors get that include descriptions like “urban, gang member, from the streets, drug dealer, very ethnic” and so on. Buppies captures a truly authentic view of black humanity and you can see that even in the first few episodes.
DC:We're learning a little bit about the Hollywood stories of Quinci, her friends and frenemies each week in Buppies. What are your real life Hollywood stories?
DW: I'm from Los Angeles and started studying acting about four years ago. I’m also a screenwriter and recently that’s been my main focus.
PD: I'm that guy that you’d see skate-boarding through Venice, with his surfboard under one arm and speaking to all the tourists as they stare in awe of this beautiful chocolate drop with perfect pecs. [Laughs] No, seriously, I’m from Los Angeles, raised in Harbor City. I went to college in Louisiana, and lived there for eight years so that place has a very special place in my heart. I love surfing, reading, doing yoga and I’m working really hard with a non-profit called Falling Whistles that helps rehabilitate kids in the Congo. Career-wise, I’ve been very blessed lately. Like you mentioned, I play Jeff on Entourage, and I’ve worked on a few other shows like Ghost Whisperer and 90210. Right now I’m shooting a movie called Not Today that’s filming in India.
DC: Buppies creator Julian Breece and Producer Aaliyah Williams have said they were inspired partly by soap operas they watched growing up in creating Buppies, in recent years, actors who have portrayed gay characters on soaps, like Eden Riegel, Van Hansis, Crystal Chappell and Scott Evans, have tended to shoot to the top of the pop culture radar, achieving mainstream attention, are you at all nervous about possibly becoming gay pop culture icons?
PD: I don't believe in icons, but I always honor what God and the universe have in store for me. If that’s to be a voice for those without a voice then I absolutely will.
DW: [Laughs] Well, it just so happens that "I'm a gay icon, what's your name?" is a great conversation starter, so, no, I'm not nervous.
DC: Ha! Damien, while Buppies has the two of you featured prominently in a girl/boy/boy love triangle, Julian Breece said he wasn't trying to do another "down low' storyline. Do you think it's important to de-stigmatize the plight of black men who love both women and men?
DW: For people that choose to be open-minded and accepting, yes. And at the end of the day that’s what it is – an issue of acceptance – but unfortunately some people aren't willing to accept the truth.
DC: Preston, as I mentioned earlier, Episode 4 ended with the manipulative Truth, informing Eliot that he in fact could come back into his life and mess everything up for him. Can you give us a sneak peek at what happens to the couple in today's installment of Buppies?
PD: Well, I don't want to give too much away, but this week I think you'll get an even better glimpse into Truth and Eliot's motivations.