Why Lucas Grabeel Wouldn’t Play ‘High School Musical’s Ryan Evans Today
Lucas Grabeel isn't so sure he'd play Ryan Evans again if the High School Musical films were made today — for a good reason.
The Disney Channel star caught up with TMZ following HSM director Kenny Ortega's recent revelation that Grabeel's character was indeed gay. Grabeel shared that he probably wouldn't want to play the Drama Club standout, who he started playing back in 2006, knowing what he knows now.
"There’s so many amazingly talented gay actors that could do it as well, so if High School Musical was made today, I don’t know if I would play Ryan," the actor explained. "I would love to, but the last thing I want to do is take an opportunity away from other people."
Grabeel admitted he knows that "as a straight white man ... I have taken opportunities away from other people," and that he wouldn't want to take up space playing a gay character when a gay actor could and should take the role.
"[Coming out] is something that a lot of kids go through and don’t often see portrayed on television," Grabeel continued, opening up about the importance of onscreen representation for diverse characters.
"At that time [of HSM's release] it was either [the gay characters were] extremely flamboyant or very closeted and kind of shut off ... We need to start educating everyone at the youngest age possible, and that’s why it will fall into the hands of Disney who create so much great programming for the developing minds of our future country. We in the film industry have a duty to educate as well as entertain.”
The actor also opened up about previous discussions he had with Ortega regarding Ryan's sexuality, revealing that Disney likely wasn't ready to have an openly gay character on the Disney Channel back in the mid-2000s.
"I came up to Kenny one day and was like, 'Hey, so can we talk about the character for a second? Ryan’s gay, right?'" Lucas recalled. "[Kenny] was like, 'Well, I mean, it’s a touchy subject sometimes with children’s programming—I’m not sure if Disney is ready now for that kind of thing. I absolutely agree that he is and I think we have an opportunity here to showcase a real person.'"
On June 30, Ortega confirmed to Variety that the character of Ryan, who is Sharpay Evans' (Ashley Tisdale) brother in the fan-favorite Disney Channel series, was gay, as many fans had speculated for years.
"We decided [he was] probably going to come out in college," Ortega told the publication. "It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward."
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