Evan Daigle is the out, proud and queer actor everyone is talking about this summer as he is playing one of the queerest and gayest characters on TV. “Claws” follows the rise of five diverse and treacherous manicurists working at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon in South Florida, where there is a lot more going on than silk wraps and pedicures. Evan plays Toby, the boyfriend of Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris), a gangster who uses the salon to launder his drug money. The series is executive produced by Rashida Jones and stars Niecy Nash and Carrie Preston. After recurring in seasons 1 and 2, Evan was promoted to series regular for Season 3, premiered on June 9, 2019.
Evan is having a great moment in his career and he is an active LGBTQ+ advocate and supporter! Some of the things you might not know about Evan is that he grew up in a small town in south Louisiana. He did not discover his passion for acting until he was in his second year of college. After taking a basic scene study class, Evan felt like he had found his true calling and began to pursue acting professionally. Evan attended Loyola University New Orleans where he studied theatre and communications, but had to leave in his final semester to film season 1 of “Claws”. Additionally, he enjoys fine art and is a hobbyist oil painter. He supports LGBTQ charities such as Happy Hippie and GLAAD, anti-bullying causes and the promotion of art education in public schools.
He has so much to talk about and we are all ears!
Tell us a little bit about yourself so we get to know you better.
I’m from Lafayette, Louisiana. I grew up playing soccer, painting, and spending time with friends. I went to college for one year to be a visual artist, then transferred to another school to study acting. I currently live in Los Angeles. I like to spend my time hiking, painting and in the acting studio practicing.
Since when did you want to become an actor?
The earliest I can remember is a friend of mine in my third grade class had a part in a community theatre play. She would tell me about her experience and it all sounded so fun for some reason. My friend and I would actually write our own plays and put teacher would let us perform them for the class. I wanted to try real live community theatre but I was very into soccer when I was young. I played from the time I was four until I was nineteen. Community theatre conflicted with my soccer training schedule so I pushed the desire away. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I really started thinking about acting a lot. I just really had no idea how one become a professional actor. I knew no one who had ever tried, much less been successful with it. It seemed like something that only kids who lived in New York or Los Angeles could do. I pushed the desire away again. A few years later after studying visual art in college, I decided I wanted to take acting classes. I completely fell in love with it and started studying it in school officially. I eventually signed with a local agent and booked “Claws” not long after.
How did “Claws” appear in your life? Did you expect the big success it would meet?
I was in school studying acting and auditioning with a local agent in New Orleans where the show is shot. I got the audition for Toby which was at first only a one scene non-verbal part. I was honestly pretty trepidatious about auditioning at first because the character had no lines and was scantly dressed. I decided to audition because I respected the producers of the show a lot, being a huge Rashida Jones fan for years. I thought it would also be a good opportunity to possible get my first TV credit. I auditioned at first for the local casting director. I got a call back with the creator and producers of the show and found out I had booked the part two weeks later. I expected the show would do well because of all the amazing people attached to it. I didn’t however expect for my part to grow to what it has. After the pilot was done and we were green-lit to make an entire season, I became a recurring character and now in the third season I’m a series regular.
Do you enjoy playing Toby, the boyfriend of Uncle Daddy in the series?
I do! I think the whole dynamic of the Dixie Mafia and Desna’s crew is so funny and messed-up so it’s a lot of fun to be on the bad guy’s side. I also really enjoy working with Dean Norris who plays Uncle Daddy.
Are there any similarities between the role you play in “Claws” and Evan?
Toby has been such a fun character to play because we are so extremely different. We do have a few similarities though. We both love the beach, we both like designer clothes and we both love friend shrimp.
Have you faced any difficulty or discrimination as an open LGBTQ+ actor?
Thankfully I have not. Playing Toby is what the industry knows me for. And I think we are also at a time where LGBTQ+ parts and actors are more in demand than ever. That being said, it’s important to recognize that there is still much work to be done to include more diversity in front of and behind the camera. It’s better than it’s ever been but it’s still not great. I think we can, as an industry and a society, do much better in fostering underrepresented talent and making sure all our voices are heard through what truly is such a powerful medium. Films and TV shows have the ability to change lives by altering perspective and showing people different points of view which I think can foster empathy. So I think it’s extremely important to ensure diversity in all aspect of the creative process so we can all feel more seen and heard in our stories.
What are the biggest challenges in the acting scene?
I think the biggest challenges in the acting scene are different for each actor. Everyone’s journey with acting is so different that It would be hard to say. For me, my biggest challenge is not being too hyper critical of myself and my work.
How important is it to be out and famous?
I think it’s important for people to see famous LGBTQ+ people out and thriving because it creates space in the culture and in society for more LGBTQ+ to see themselves in those places as well. Representation matters because you can’t achieve something unless you believe it’s possible to.
Do you think LGBTQ+ communities are under-represented in the media and the showbiz?
I do. I think the progress is there and we should celebrate it. But I also think we have a long way to go before LGBTQ+ communities are represented in the media. I think shows like “Claws” and “Pose” do well to help create space for more queer stories to be told.
Do you feel there is enough LGBTQ+ awareness nowadays?
I think there is quite a lot of awareness for some members of that acrimynm and not so much for other members. I feel like gay men in particular get a lot of awareness where as trans women, especially black trans women get little to no awareness which leads to little to no representation. We have a lot of work to do as a society in helping these vulnerable populations feel safer and represented.
How have things changed in America and how LGBTQ+ friendly do you consider it now?
I things are constantly changing in America. Things have changed a lot in the past three years since the forty-fifth president took office. I think with the new administration taking office and LGBTQ+ rights being threatened, our voices have gotten loud in response. I think America is too vast and varied for me to say it is or is not LGBTQ+ friendly over all. Some places, like the west coast, are incomparably more LGBTQ+ friendly (as far as legal rights and cultural acceptance are concerned) than somewhere in the deep south, where many states have laws which allow job and various other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
How important is activism for you and how do you support LGBTQ+ charities and GLAAD?
Activism is important. I think if you’re in the position to give you should consider giving to LGBTQ+ charities such GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and the It Get’s Better campaign.
What makes you smile?
Seeing a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Good food. Nature.
Who are the people you look up to and take as an example in your life?
I look up to what I believe to be the great actors of our time. Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Nicole Kidman, Mike Shannon, Viola Davis. I watch everything these actors do. I take watching their performances is a master class in film acting.
What are your future plans?
I try not to make set future plans because I really like not knowing where my life as an artist is going to take me. I like the nature of being an actor because you’re whole life can change at a moment. That excitement keeps me going. Right now I’d love to keep doing television.
*all images are courtesy of Evan Daigle