The Bold Type's Stephen Conrad Moore is "hungry" for real queer Black representation

·8-min read
Photo credit: Freeform
Photo credit: Freeform

Rainbow Crew is an ongoing interview series that celebrates the best LGBTQ+ representation on screen. Each instalment showcases talent working on both sides of the camera, including queer creatives and allies to the community.

Next up, we're speaking to The Bold Type star Stephen Conrad Moore.

The Bold Type is the story of three young women working together in New York City, but it's also so much more than that. Across five seasons, the Scarlet team expanded with a whole host of characters who became just as integral to the show as Jane, Kat and Sutton.

Chief among them is Oliver Grayson, the head of Scarlet's fashion department. Not only does he work closely alongside Jacqueline, our Lord and saviour, but over time, he also became Sutton's trusted friend and mentor.

While the groundbreaking relationship between Kat and Adena often takes centre-stage, Oliver's journey as a queer Black single parent is just as important, shining a much-needed light on aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience we still don't see often enough on screen.

Digital Spy caught up with Stephen Conrad Moore to discuss his thoughts on the show ending and the stories he wished Oliver could have been a part of if things had continued.

Photo credit: Freeform
Photo credit: Freeform

Your role on the show has grown and evolved so much since season one. How did that happen?

I think it was kismet. I’m really grateful to the producers. There were people behind the scenes who were like, "This guy needs to be a series regular. He’s going to be so instrumental in this storyline."

And I think that the show was needing something like that. It was needing someone like me for whatever I bring, to add to the show.

How do you feel about The Bold Type coming to an end with season five?

First, I want to lead with gratitude. I started on this show as a guest star – recurring – and then got bumped up to a series regular. And I’m grateful to be a part of a show that has been influential in so many young women’s lives, and so many young people’s lives. I’m grateful that I got to tell this story of this queer, same-gender loving, Black character, and all his imperfections – to be a part of that canon on screen.

I’m starting off with gratitude that we even got renewed for season two. And I’m really grateful that we got to know that this was our last season, instead of it being pulled out from under us.

But that said, there are so many more avenues that I wish I could’ve gone down with my character. I realise that this isn’t necessarily, maybe, the platform for that. You get to see more of Oliver outside of the workspace, and even inside the workspace you get to see more dimensions of him, and more of his personality, his life, etcetera.

But I think the beauty of it is, it’s been established, and hopefully… Who knows what’s going to come in the future? So it was bittersweet. I’m grateful we got a chance to do it. I’m sad we couldn’t do more. But it was five seasons. Everything must come to an end – or pause, at least.

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What would be your future hopes for Oliver if the show did continue or return in some capacity?

Oliver is kind of like this walnut. There is this exterior that’s hard, but there’s a tree that’s waiting to bloom out of it, especially surrounding his love life. He’s definitely a man very much still in his prime, navigating New York City and single life, looking for love.

There were glimpses of him being vulnerable. He’s been great at helping Sutton, and ushering her onto her Mr Right, and giving advice to everybody else. And you do get to see more of that, for sure.

But for the audience to really get to journey with him; to see him be vulnerable; to see him have anticipation and hope, and be let down, and to find love, and to find Black love – you know, find love with another Black man, and to get his happy ending; to get his Mr Right.

Just to see the messy journey of that character – that’s where I would like to continue on. And to continue to see his growth as a person. I would love to continue to see Oliver educate as well – the world around him about his perspective as a Black man, in a largely white world. Yeah, I would love to see all of that.

Can you remember any particularly meaningful responses from fans who resonated with Oliver and his storylines?

I went to go visit my boyfriend at a theatre that he was directing at. Someone came up to me who was working there, and just said, "I really love your representation as a Black queer man, and how you’re not portrayed in this stereotypical way. You’re not feeding any of the tropes. You’re a full, well-rounded character."

That is always my aim, as an actor, to live in the character, and to know that even though this is a show largely about these three young women, that there are people out there watching who were still inspired by seeing my representation, giving another dimension of what it means to be a Black queer man on scripted television.

Photo credit: Freeform
Photo credit: Freeform

[laughs] And somebody said, I think after season one, "Oliver is me when I walk into the office space. I can’t talk to anybody before my coffee. I so relate to a lot of the things that he does."

What can the industry do to improve the representation of marginalised groups on screen?

How long is this interview? [laughs] Oh lord. Let’s just start with this: I can speak for myself. First of all, I identify as cis, but I would definitely say we need more trans representation. We definitely need more Black, dark-skinned, trans representation. We definitely need more non-binary representation.

I can’t speak to that, because I’m cisgender. For myself, I’m always thriving and hungry for dark-skinned, Black men loving other dark-skinned, Black men. I’ve been in many interracial relationships, and loved the interracial relationships. But if life sometimes reflects art, I do want to think about what images we’re saying life is going to reflect.

When I have looked at representations of Black love on television, a lot of times the message that we’re sending out there is that in order to find happiness, you have to seek outside of your race. So if I’m going to be a storyteller that’s going to be influencing life, I would love to see it promoting a story that says: "We are lovable, and we are capable of loving each other – the people who look like us."

I’ll bring up Pose, for example – how wonderfully juicy it was to see Billy Porter’s character loving Dyllón Burnside. It’s like: yes!

I’m still fighting for real representation of just Black men loving each other, and affirming each other, and saying that we are capable of loving each other, and we are capable of choosing each other. I still don’t see that often on mainstream TV.

Over the years, what's been the most challenging aspect of working on The Bold Type?

Piggybacking off my last answer of seeing Black men love each other, there’s a moment in the show where there’s that potential, and it’s like, "Oh my God, this is what I’ve been… This is the area that I’ve been looking for."

Photo credit:  Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2020
Photo credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2020

After we filmed it, I was like, "Why is this so hard for me? It’s because I’ve put so much pressure on it for it to be perfect, because it’s the first time I’ve gotten to do this in five seasons."

So there’s this subconscious pressure of: "It’s got to be perfect, because it’s my one shot to express myself in this particular way." Now I wish I could’ve reshot it and just released myself. But it was really challenging – something that was definitely in me, you know?

I wish we had more opportunities, basically, to do that; to have that kind of expression. That was the first thing that came to mind, honestly; just having a hunger to express yourself. That hunger almost makes it harder than it needs to be, you know? And the hunger being bred out of starving; out of not getting a chance to eat. It literally is stuffing yourself.

The Bold Type airs on Freeform in the US or Amazon Prime Video and Netflix in the UK.

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