‘Malibu Country’ Gay Characters Bring Chemistry to Show
Country icon and sitcom star Reba McEntire sat down with Advocate magazine recently to discuss her career, family and the "gay-friendly" characters in her new show, "Malibu Country." So far, Reba's daughter on the comedy, June, has a lesbian classmate and a male friend whose sexuality is debated, as he says he's gay, but "practices kissing" with all the girls in school. While the former character has yet to make an appearance on screen, Reba tells the publication that more gay characters will "definitely" be on the show -- a fact that would still be true even if it wasn't set in Southern California.
"I've got a huge gay following, and they've always been very supportive," Reba explains to the mag, "so I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't any difference between Nashville and L.A."
Geoffrey, the gatekeeper assistant to a music industry big-wig, is also an out-and-proud gay character on "Malibu Country." Jai Rodriguez, formerly known for his role on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," plays the underling, who becomes friends with Reba's character.
"Jai will definitely be a part of show," Reba reveals. "He is an incredible actor. Great in person to get to work with, and I smother him to pieces. He was doing Rent on Broadway when I was doing Annie Get Your Gun in 2001 on Broadway. It's really funny how our paths have run parallel for so long. I was auditioning the people for his role of the assistant of the record executive, and when he came in it was just clear he was the one for the part. Jai's incredible."
He's not the only gay actor with whom the redhead enjoys swapping lines. Iconic comic Lily Tomlin, who plays Reba's hard-nosed mother, Lillie Mae, was a casting dream.
"It's wonderful working with Lily," the lead says. "She's just so much fun. She's down-to-earth. She's not a diva at all. She's not pretentious. She's always working on honing her craft and making sure that her character comes to life and [finding out] what's the background. She's always studying it, and I've learned so much from her."
While the show is similar to the icon's first sitcom, "Reba" -- about a single mother, trying to find her way after a failed marriage -- there is one notable change. This time around, Reba is singing on the show, which is helping her avoid a hiatus from her music career.
"The schedule is so that Lily and I can go do our performances on the weekend," the songstress explains. "She does her comedy routine when she flies off and does her work, and I can do mine too, so this schedule of TV is just perfect for us."
Read the full Advocate interview here.
Watch Reba Talk About 'Malibu Country'