Sometimes, people expect Chad Allen to be bitter about Hollywood. They encourage him, in fact, to badmouth the place.
When the otherwise accommodating 31-year-old does not oblige, they act surprised. After all, didn’t Hollywood turn on him four years ago, when he came out of the closet?
Allen, a presenter at GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles and one of the few successful openly gay leading men in the industry, acknowledges that there have been difficulties.
After his six-year run as Matthew Cooper on TV’s “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” the offers didn’t exactly flow in. “I couldn’t get an audition for a network series,” he says.
Allen grew up in Hollywood — began his acting career with a McDonald’s commercial at age 4 — and went on to roles in “St. Elsewhere,” “Webster,” “Our House,” “My Two Dads” and “Dr. Quinn.” He believes so deeply in Hollywood that he and business partners Christopher Racster and Robert Gant have started a production company. Called Mythgarden, it focuses exclusively on film and television projects that have gay or lesbian themes — but with a difference.
“We’ve been watching the same stories over and over,” Allen says of gay fare. “We are ready to make better movies. We’re finding the right stories that we can make well, with good enough scripts that we will attract a broad audience.”
Allen says many gay- and lesbian- themed films have been overwrought efforts of little interest even to people at gay film festivals.
“Our mission is essentially to turn the page on gay and lesbian entertainment,” Allen explains.
Mythgarden is working on two television shows and four movies, including “Save Me,” about an ex-gay ministry and featuring Allen, Gant (“Queer as Folk”) and Judith Light. Another film is about two elderly gay men.
For Allen, producing represents the long haul compared with the relatively quick turnaround of being in front of the camera. “It has made me realize how easy I’ve had it as an actor,” says Allen, who hasn’t given up on his first profession.
His newest film, in fact, “End of the Spear,” generated controversy — and a live appearance on CNN — after a group of conservative pastors complained it was inappropriate for a gay man to play the role of a Christian missionary in South America. The independent film earned about $11.7 million from Jan. 20 to March 3.
And in March, Allen was in Vancouver, B.C., filming “Shock to the System,” the second of a series of programs for Here TV, about gay detective Donald Stratchey.
While Allen feels a responsibility to what he calls the “civil rights struggle,” he calls himself “an actor, not an activist. People love to call me an activist because I answer questions honestly.”