Actor Kevin Clayette shows the importance of LGBTQ stories in award-winning film
There was never a distinct moment when Kevin Clayette decided he wanted to be an actor. For the New Caledonia native, there was just never any other option. From the time he was a child, he knew he was meant to be in front of the camera, and he maintained that belief as he grew, emerging as an in-demand actor in his home country and abroad.
“To entertain people, to challenge myself, to never grow up, to do what I love, to travel the world, to meet people… there is an endless list of reasons why I love what I do. I don’t think I could give an exact reason why it is so great; I just know for damn sure that I can’t see myself doing anything else,” he said.
Now, Clayette has been in countless acclaimed productions, from Australia’s longest running television drama Neighbours to the award-winning horror Doktor. He is completely bilingual, speaking his native language of French and a flawless English with various accents, and can captivate audiences in any genre, from drama to comedy, and even, musicals.
Clayette starred in the 2016 award-winning feature film Emo the Musical, which tells the story of Ethan, a sullen high-school student whose life is defined by what he hates. However, he finds love with a blindly optimistic Christian girl Trinity, much to the annoyance of his angst-filled band mates and her evangelistic brethren. It's like an Australian teenage version of Romeo and Juliet, except that instead of having the Capulet facing the Montagues it's the Christians facing the Emo of the school.
“I love how quirky this story is. We deal with some real issues like bullying, peer pressure, and more, and still find a way to make people laugh. This movie is important because the core of this story is about finding yourself and belonging and how these two can sometimes be complicated to achieve, especially as a teen. I know that when I was a teen, I sometimes felt that too, not necessarily knowing who I was and therefore wondering if I belonged anywhere,” said Clayette.
Clayette showed off his musical chops while playing the role of Josh in the movie. His character is a high school jock who starts a relationship with one of the Christians, Peter. This aspect of the story is key for the film, as being in a Christian school, having sexual thoughts of any nature, let alone homosexual, is strictly forbidden. However, when Josh and Peter begin their relationship, trials and tribulations ensue, culminating in a beautiful song in the movie, and even a post credit scene.
“I was portraying a character that had to face the bad looks of everyone around him because he was in a gay relationship. Being heterosexual myself, it was a challenge to portray this character, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and received very good feedback from the press and fans,” said Clayette.
Clayette found his way into the film by chance, having auditioned for Neighbours and greatly impressing the Casting Director, who later asked him to come in for Emo the Musical as well, landing both parts. For Clayette, it felt like fate, and he was more than ready to take up such an important character and show off his musical capabilities.
Clayette has always enjoyed playing guitar and singing as hobbies, but this was his first time doing so on camera. To sing and act simultaneously required countless hours of rehearsal. The scene in question was very demanding, as it was a break-up scene, so Clayette had to display the hurt and sadness of his character while singing. Also, he had to do all this in an Australian accent, which is not his native accent. Despite all this, it is one of the most captivating scenes in the film.
Emo the Musical premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 12th, 2016. It went on to win Best Overall Film at the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival, placing second runner up at the Melbourne International Film Festival and was nominated for many other awards. The music was also nominated for Feature Film Soundtrack of the Year in 2016 at the Australian Screen Sound Guild. Such success could never have been possible without Clayette, and he feels honored to have been a part of it.
Emo the Musical is currently streaming on Netflix and is definitely a can’t miss.
“It was very interesting to witness what happened when the movie came out on Netflix. It’s almost like Netflix gave the movie a second life and I think even more people discovered the movie thanks to the streaming service. We all started receiving quite a lot of fan art and mail. It has kind of felt like the project was similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Fight Club in that way that the fanbase really expanded a while after the movie had hit cinemas. It’s become sort of a cult classic, and it’s incredible,” Clayette concluded.
By John Michaels
April 27th, 2019