'QAF's' Expecting Parents Jesse James Keitel & CG Talk Chemistry and Authenticity

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday June 20, 2022

'QAF's' Expecting Parents Jesse James Keitel & CG Talk Chemistry and Authenticity

Authenticity has been the keyword behind Peacock's reboot of "Queer as Folk," and the casting of non-binary actors Jesse James Keitel and CG proves the point with great success.

Authenticity has been the keyword behind Peacock's reboot of "Queer as Folk," which has reset the series to present-day New Orleans and introduced an array of diverse characters navigating the ever-changing queer culture.

Amongst the diverse cast are non-binary actors Jesse James Keitel and CG (Candace Grace), who play a couple facing parenthood while dealing with the tragic events that kick the series off, as well as their own past. Keitel plays Ruthie, a trans party girl who is trying to reform their ways as they face parenthood; while CG is Shar, a college professor navigating the rocky transition from punk to parenthood.

"Keitel is a trailblazer as one of the few out trans non-binary stars working in television, particularly in the primetime network space where she broke out on the David E. Kelley ABC drama 'Big Sky,'" reported Variety. "There she played Jerrie Kennedy, a woman kidnapped in a human trafficking plot."

Less is known about CG, according to the website Creative HipHop, who keeps their private lives under wraps. In addition to "QAF," CG has appeared in the short film "Pearl Motel" (2016) and the pilot of Sam Esmail's series "Acts of Crime" (2021), which was ordered by ABC but not picked up by the network.

EDGE spoke to the "QAF" stars about their roles, their chemistry and the importance of representation. Note: transcript has been edited for clarity.

EDGE (Steven Duffy): Please, could each of you just tell us about the character that you play?

CG: Shar is a lover of sorts. A solid lover. Shar is a Professor of Theology at Tulane in New Orleans. Shar is a punk drummer-person going out of that world somewhat into the world of parenthood and what that means for them. They are their strongholds in the midst of some not-so-strong times here, and lots of transitions.

Jesse James Keitel: And Ruthie is a former party girl, aspiring adult, who is the hottest English teacher in Louisiana.

EDGE (Steven Duffy): Now, if I, if I remember correctly on the show, you are a couple Correct? How did you go about building your chemistry,

Jesse James Keitel: We had nothing we needed to build... We got very lucky. And thankfully, I have team partner whom I can trust with literally anything. We have some very sensitive, intimate moments on the show that I not only felt taken care of by production, but I also felt taken care of my co-partner, CJ. Yeah,

CG: I feel lucky to be able to agree with that. Wholeheartedly.

EDGE (Steven Duffy): And you know, what I love about this show,I love the original when it came out, but at least with this reboot, and we're seeing more of it, right? Diversity. So, as actors, you're not only part of the storytelling, but you are actually able to use your own languages. And so how amazing is that? Right? But how does that make you feel as actors?

Jesse James Keitel: Well, I mean, the beauty of this project is, there is not a learning curve between the performers and the creators. We're not one queer person on a project, we are an entirely queer project. And I think, since queerness is really imbued in the thread — the makeup of the show, it makes a much more enjoyable experience telling these stories, it makes so much safer experience. And yeah, it was an absolute joy.

CG: Yes, we are actors. But there were lots of moments where what we were doing — I mean, for myself, I can only speak that — it did not feel like acting. It was really an extension of being which, I guess this comes across as acting. But there were no airs to have to put on. No fronts to be made. It was just starting from a place of real. So that made everything so much easier.

Jesse James Keitel: And it's not performing queerness. I think you can look back and see some representation of queerness in media, and it' a straight sis person's idea of what it means to be queer. Where in this 2022 reimagining of "Queer as Folk," we really get to see authentic storytelling and some stories that may not have had an opportunity to ever be told without, the previous iterations of "Queer as Folk," Yeah, I'm very proud of what we've done here.

EDGE (Steven Duffy): And what I love about this show is the show is made by queer people for queer people, because we're all going to watch it, we're all going to binge watch it when it drops, right. But why should straight people watch it?

Jesse James Keitel: It's good. It's storytelling with characters you could relate to.

CG: And I just, I feel like straight people have a — depending upon which one you're talking about — have a very narrow view of what it does mean to be queer. And I feel like coming from the prior series, this one allows for that narrowed view to be opened up a little bit more, not only for straight people, but for the people in the queer community. It's like, we're seeing a bunch of things that we haven't quite seen before, and it's ready to be shared and viewed and opened up towards.

Jesse James Keitel: Yeah, there's definitely there's some, some nuance within, you know, the LGBTQIA-plus community, you know, that really, that acronym represents a lot of people with really different lived experiences, and I think we get to to show some of the differences in within those experiences on this show. I mean so much of the media I consumed growing up had no queer people in it had had no queer characters at all. And then yet I rooted for those characters. So if someone can't watch the show, because it's a bunch of queer people, I mean, 'hello. You got to unpack that, Mary.' It's there's there's some beautiful storytelling with characters you really want to root for.