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Interview: Chatting with Michael Graceffa on Minnesota, theatre and Fire Island!

His message is always try and be your authentic genuine self

Interview: Chatting with Michael Graceffa on Minnesota, theatre and Fire Island! Michael is an actor who is been in The Cher Show, Matilda, Aladdin and Catch Me If You Can and more! He is also has been on the TV screen in The Marvelous Mrs. Maise, I Was Wrong, and most recently Fire Island where he played Rhys.

He came to Minnesota during the national tours of Aladdin and Catch Me If You Can at the Orpheum Theatre and found Minnesota to be such a fun place with so much culture. He loved the North Loop with the shops and curated coffee spots. He also LOVED the gay nightlife. He had a lot of fun at the Saloon and may have won the shower contest there as a very young college student!

We chat with Michael about his performing career, Fire Island, and his message for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month.

How does it feel to have live performances back?

It feels electric to be honest. I think everyone forgot how exciting and important and exhilarating it is to be up on stage before Broadway shut down for two years. Everyone has more fire and energy in all the shows I've seen. It's really inspiring- Broadways back and better than ever is true in that way

What inspired you to pursue performing? Who were your inspirations and influences?

I grew up in my Aunt's dance studio and was obsessed with my older cousin Jesse who was a pure triple threat. Dance quickly become a form of therapy when I was down and I also loved the feeling of being watched on stage in my recitals. I was also super inspired by *NSYNC as a young kid and dreamed of being in a boy band haha

Why did you decide to be a part of Fire Island?

When I found out Joel and Andrew wanted me for FI I was ecstatic. I had been a huge fan of Joel's comedy for years and I knew it was destined to be a hilarious movie that would resonate with my community.

What was it like developing your character in Fire Island?

Developing my character was a lot of fun. Sadly in our industry, there are still a lot of ignorant vapid humans you encounter endlessly. Racism, misogyny, body dysmorphia, etc. is still very present among the gay Broadway community. I definitely used some Chorus boys I've never respected and was forced to work in the past as influences for my character. Rhys just represents those privileged gay men who can't even fathom that they live in a judgmental bubble of delusion.

Did you face any challenges with developing your character or anything in the production?

Only challenge on the production was fighting my nerves and imposter syndrome. It was my first film and it was something I dreamed of as a young kid- I just didn't want to mess it up. But everyone was so supportive and sweet, so I was able to get out of my head.

What is your favorite moment in the film?

My favorite moment in the film is the drone shot of the ferry to the island as Pure Imagination plays. I get goosebumps every time. It's such a beautiful shot and it exemplifies how this island is such a mystical otherworldly safe haven for queer people.

How was it working with the cast and the creative team of Fire Island?

I was obsessed with everyone on set. We all had so much fun, and everyone was great at hyping each-other up and teasing one another. We were all queer, so it felt safe- honestly felt like 'play practice'

What do you hope anyone who watches the film takes away from it?

Fire Island is so important because it really speaks to the inequity in the LGBTQ community. Being queer comes in so many shapes and sizes. We need to all support and raise each other up as a community.

What does Pride month mean to you?

Pride month feels like every month to me to be honest. But it is a nice reminder to feel celebrated for feeling comfortable and proud in my skin as a queer man. It's not always easy.

What message do you have for the LGBTQ+ community?

My message is always try and be your authentic genuine self- don't try to be anything or anyone you're not. Also finding yourself is a process so take your time and give yourself extra love and support as you go on that journey. We are constantly evolving- just know there's a community and people out there who will always always always love you no matter what.

Thank you Michael for your time! We hope you'll visit Minnesota again soon!

Photo by Maxwell Poth

From This Author - Jared Fessler

Jared [He/Him] is originally from Iowa and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up doing theatre and studied music, dance, and theatre with additional training in BFA musical theatre.

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