MICHAEL: So l’Odet is fairly new, right?
CARIANN: Yeah, the magazine launched in January of this year.
M: Wow. Congrats.
C: Thank you! I really appreciate it.
M: Yeah, of course. I know how much work it is doing anything entrepreneurial. I think it’s badass. It’s such a good message, you know? It’s such a necessity, especially right now.
C: I think so, too. And honestly thinking about it as some of the first writings or first body of writing to come out of the #MeToo movement…I think it’s really important, especially going forward. I’m pumped.
M: That’s dope.
C: I want to know what the merch is about. What’s the deal? Give me the tea.
M: Yeah, definitely! So we’re shooting season two of our TV show right now which is called "Roswell." It’s on Netflix. It’s called "Roswell, New Mexico" and—
C: I’ve seen it all.
M: You saw it?!
C: [Laughs] I’ve seen all of it.
M: No way!
C: Turns out one of my best friends Kristen, who helps me with the magazine, is obsessed with the show.
M: No way.
C: Oh yeah, she’s thrilled. Honestly.
M: That’s so dope. Every design that I explain to you will make a lot of sense then. That’s great. I think one of the bestsellers is going to be this shirt — I actually found some fan art from a girl in Saudi Arabia. So that design says ‘boys will be boys.’ I’m bisexual in the show, you’ve seen it. The fan art design is me and Tyler Blackburn’s character, he’s like hoisting me up, reaching for the stars. I saw that and had just read something saying that back in the day, I don’t know which century it was, pink was the color for boys. As time went on, that color became feminine. I think that society, especially with the saying ‘boys will be boys,’ furthers this. Not only do boys hide their emotions, they’re taught to keep their feelings close. But the ‘boys will be boys,’ especially now in the #MeToo movement, that saying is such a slap on the wrist. People get a lot of flack for saying that sometimes.
I remember in the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, it was almost like that was what he was talking about. Being in college, getting wild, and I don’t know — hooking up with girls and stuff like that. Boys just get away with more. But it’s never been ‘girls will be girls.’ I know that the ‘boys will be boys’ saying will be around forever, but we could create a new meaning for it. The meaning that the design pertains to is that ‘boys will be boys’ doesn’t have to mean masculinity, a slap on the wrist, or boys just fucking around and getting away with it. I think it can pertain to inclusion, love, and homosexuality. I took that saying and I put it on a shirt that features a bisexual and gay man who are lovers. That’s their story. I’m just trying to shed new light on that saying with that shirt. That’s my goal with that one.
I have another shirt that says ‘love hurts’ and the design is an outline of me and Tyler from the show. In the pilot episode, there’s a shot where we’re holding each other and kissing after not kissing for ten years after the tragic accident in the show. That design is about how, no matter what, love — good or bad —is important. It’s a necessity we can’t run from. You have to face it, and I think that this shirt is supposed to embody the strength that takes. Love, heartbreak, or whatever — it’s important and you will prevail. You can get through something like a dad catching you and breaking your hand [note: this happens in "Roswell"].
The others are just more fun. The Michael Vlamis signature design that says ‘established Tuesdays 9/8c’ for example. I feel like our show puts a pretty positive message out there about inclusion. Like, there’s a reason why the three aliens in the show are white. That was really important to our showrunner because people are always looking for people who could ‘look like’ aliens, right? Different skin color, whatever it may be. In our show, the aliens are hiding in plain sight and not being questioned because they are the ‘average-looking person.’
The last shirt is the Happy Boy tee. There’s a black and tie-dye one with my face from fifth grade on it. It was my school’s yearbook photo. I was very overweight as a kid. I feel like everyone, especially now with social media, is always putting their best foot forward. People seem to be shying away from who they really are because they want people to see them driving a really nice car or on a cool vacation. I think it’s so important to be able to make fun of yourself, laugh at yourself, and appreciate the awkward weirdo that you probably once were. I don’t think we should ever lose that. That’s how that shirt came to be.
We also have hats, posters, and “Vlamis Starter Packs” which are more of a joke and fun.
C: Wow, okay. How long have you been planning this? Have you wanted to do clothing design for a while?
M: I’ve always been very interested in clothes and fashion. Clothes have always been in the back of my mind like this, and I love what Tyler the Creator and Odd Future have done. They took a group of people making music and being creative and turned it into an entire merch store. It’s become this collective. That’s what I’m going for. I have my own production company, I just produced my first feature film last year. I write a bunch and have good stuff happening on that front. The merch came from this idea that I see myself, not where I’m at now, but where I’m headed. In 20 years, I could have a full-blown fashion line. I’d love to be doing that. Also it just reminds me of being a kid in my basement, designing an RPG video game or something at my computer, alone. Just creating. It’s been such a good outlet.
And after the show aired, I got all these messages on Instagram from people saying that my character flat-out saying he’s bisexual and owning his truth — something that’s very rare. Even for a man that hooks up with guys and girls on television, I feel like it’s really rare for them to actually proclaim that they’re bisexual. All those messages, it was so wild. I felt like, for the first time in my life, I was actually making a difference. My goal is to spread awareness and create a brand for myself and my career, but I see it as a way to give back. I’m actually donating all my profits to a nonprofit organization called Random Acts. It was started by Misha Collins, he’s one of the three leads on “Supernatural” on The CW. I thought that since this CW guy started this nonprofit, and I’m a CW guy right now, it makes sense. I’m really big on inclusion, and I like that Random Acts does everything from supporting the LGBT community to building a house in Africa. I chose them for that reason.
C: That sounds amazing. You talked a little bit about the fan reception of your character and how it’s inspired what you’re doing now. How has that been for you?
M: Oh, man. It’s been crazy. I’d never been on a TV show as a lead character before. I’d never been in the public eye. And I’d especially never been in the public eye with such a weight on my shoulders, with representing a marginalized voice. Tyler came out after the first season as bisexual in a magazine. I knew going into the show that he was bisexual, but the world didn’t know it. The world just saw him as this “Pretty Little Liars" guy who was a heartthrob on that show. I knew that it meant a lot to him because it seemed to be his coming out and owning his truth. I knew it was important from the start. But I didn’t know it was going to affect that many people. The fact that it did…those messages are the reason I lose sleep at night. I’m literally the guy who is up late looking at those messages and trying to interact with those people by liking their stuff or posting it to my story or sometimes responding. I just launched a newsletter. Over the last two weeks we’ve gotten about 3,000 subscribers and the newsletter will be monthly. I’m answering fan questions there, including think-pieces — fans have sent me journal entries that I’ve inspired. Those will be on there. It’s just another way for me to interact and get even closer to the fans. All this stuff literally came from the fact that people give a damn. Everybody reaching out was so touching, especially growing up in a suburb of Chicago — I knew one gay kid growing up. I knew one Jewish kid and one gay kid. It was an interesting bubble to grow up in, then I got to California and realized there’s so many people. There are so many people different than you, but everybody is the same. We want the same thing, to love and be loved. That all has really inspired me. I’m trying to give everything I can to the fans with this project.
C: Yeah, absolutely. From the outside looking in, even before talking to you today, it seems like you’re doing the most with what you have. I don’t see other actors doing this much inspired by their show or getting people to care about things. It’s really inspiring and I think it’s awesome what you’re doing.
M: Yeah, well thank you. I think I’m also just a little overtly ambitious. [Laughs] It sounds like you probably are, too. It’s just that entrepreneur spirit.
M: I don’t know, everything can be such bullshit. Everyone offers help or guidance or assistance. I’m a kid in LA who had no connections for five and a half years before I booked the show. I’m a dude trying to make it, and yeah there were people there for me who supported me, but no one ever put me on their back. And I’m not saying you expect that, but in so many other facets of life, there’s mentorship and that’s how you climb the ranks. As an artist in the world? You’re on your own. That really bothered me. Anytime I can give back or do something, or my dad just randomly texts me and is like, ‘So-and-so’s son is thinking about moving to Hollywood, will you talk to him?’ Like, hell yeah I’ll talk to him. Because I wish I’d had those people to talk to me. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of that. I graduated with a business degree, I played baseball in college, and I started acting my senior year after a bunch of injuries from sports. I started auditioning for short films in school and I realized I might have a knack for it. It was a grind, you know? I was the head of marketing for a watch company based in San Francisco. I worked remotely from LA for four and a half years. Then the last year, I quit that and really focused on acting, writing, producing, everything. I did that and I was on the outs. I was on the outs in 2017; it was bad. I lost a six-year relationship because of it. I was just angry at the world, angry that I hadn’t made it yet, that I hadn’t met my expectations for myself. I pushed everyone away and just sat in my room and wrote. All that stuff is paying off now, but for a year I drove Uber everyday. Then I would write the rest of the day or audition or take meetings. So many meetings — I stopped going to dinner with my girlfriend because I was just constantly hustling and felt like I was stuck in this corner with so much to prove. I think it’s important that people know that the dude driving their Uber in 2017 is doing all this shit, you know?
"Love — good or bad —is important. It’s a necessity we can’t run from."
"Love — good or bad —is important. It’s a necessity we can’t run from."
M: I want people to know that no matter where they come from or what they do, it’s possible.
C: That’s really inspiring. You seem like such an enthusiastic person, I’m just like I need to get off my ass and start hustling more. [Laughs]
C: I mean, all the best people inspire you to do that.
M: Yeah, my dad was really hard on me. But one thing he always said was “why not you?” If someone was doing something, he’d say to me, “that could be you.” He demanded the best from me. I just want more. I like being self-sufficient, almost to a fault. [Laughs]
C: [Laughs] Well thank you so much for talking to me. I think the merch is going to be awesome, and just from what I’ve seen on Instagram, the fans are going to sell you out.
M: I did go with more quality products rather than just Gildan tees, so it will take a bit more to break even. [Laughs] But it’s not about that, it’s about having something that people will actually want to wear and notice the quality and thought that was put into it. I'm using this brand called Blank clo, all the tees and everything are hand-softened for a vintage feel.
C: That’s super tight. I also just have one more question. Like, what can I expect from season two? I’m thrilled. I need to know.
M: Oh, man. Season two has ripped my heart out already.
C: Oh, god. I’m not ready!
M: I know. I actually haven’t talked to many people about this, but I lost a buddy in my arms about five months ago.
C: Oh my god. I am so sorry.
M: Thank you. It was a freak accident. It’s really strange because, going into season two, Max — my brother in the show — is dead. It’s just so weird that right before we started filming, that freak accident happened with one of my childhood best friends. For me personally, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions this year. I’m literally living the life of a character losing his brother, and coming off a real-life situation where I lost a brother-figure from my childhood. That has been wild. It’s been so emotional, but the writers have done a great job keeping the show funny and always clever. We also touch on some hot topics in this newer season. I can’t say what, but we’re touching on some important conversations happening in the world today. And then obviously, a lot of sex, a lot of fights, romance, action. And Guerin is a bit of a mess at the start of the season. We might see him resort to some of his old ways. There is a lot to look forward to. I’m pretty jacked up about it.
C: Awesome. I am so excited about it. I know that we reached out to Carina, is she one of the writers?
M: She created the show, she’s the showrunner.
C: Yes! We talked to her last year to see if we could interview her next time I’m in LA. I can’t wait to do that, she is super cool.
M: A lot of what I’m doing is because Carina MacKenzie gave me the platform to do it. She was one of those people that took a chance on a kid that not many people were taking chances on. She is a big reason, her and Julie Plec, for me to even be on the show and have this message to send out to the world. I got really lucky with that.
C: Well, good luck with the merch launch this weekend. I’m really excited.
M: Yeah, I appreciate it, Cariann. I appreciate you watching the show, too.
C: I’m obsessed, I love it.
M: I can’t wait for you to see this season.
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Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.
We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.
Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.
We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.