Twelve years ago, at 21, Daniel Levy began an eight-year gig as a host on MTV Canada. Now he has begun his third season on “Schitt’s Creek,” which airs on CBC in Canada and Pop in the U.S., the sitcom he created with his dad, Eugene Levy. Daniel Levy spoke with Variety about the series and why he sees it as a validation of small-town life.
You created the show with your dad. How do you balance family and work?
Half the battle is knowing limits and boundaries, and that takes some time. From the beginning, we were on the same page in terms of what we wanted out of this show, and that really helped. The hard part is separating a family disagreement from a professional one and realizing that I can’t get away with the same things as his son that I can as his business partner — which is a show in and of itself.
Did you have comedy or acting training?
I came from a theater background and always wanted to act. But when you’re 21 and MTV offers you a job, you have to take it. So the trajectory got derailed a bit. But at MTV for eight years, I was made to feel comfortable in front of the camera. And I was given a lot of freedom to write and produce my work. I realized scripted, more performative-based stuff was really in line with what I wanted to do. It just goes to show you’ll eventually find your footing.
Your character on “Schitt’s Creek,” David Rose, is one of the first pansexuals on TV. Was that always the plan?
We thought that was in line with who this person was, and it felt very natural for him. On the show, it’s a very small town, yet it’s completely accepting; there’s no judgment. We wanted to create a world where things are as they should be. The best thing we can do right now is show a world where sexuality is not part of the conversation — it’s just who people are.
And that sets an example.
A girl came up to me on the street and said the show changed the dynamic in her family. Her brother’s gay, and her parents had never accepted him. But by watching the way that Johnny and Moira interact with David in our show — how accepting they are — it was able to inform this girl’s parents in ways they hadn’t seen before. You often forget, because you’re so inside it, that television has power. And for us, any chance we get to project a world where things are good and right, that’s all we can hope to do.
What you didn’t know about Daniel Levy
AGE: 33 FAVORITE TV GENRE: Crime dramas, especially British ones FAVORITE CURRENT COMEDY: “Veep” MOST USED APP: Postmates