“If a child has good parents, it doesn’t really matter who those parents are, or what sex they are, or what kind of relationship they have. A child deserves to have loving parents, regardless of any of that,” proclaims Matthew Wilkas, star of Gayby, regarding the theme of this hot new DVD release from Wolfe Video.
Gayby, based on a short film of the same name from writer-director Jonathan Lisecki, took the LGBT film festival circuit by storm last year, winning 16 awards and a nomination for the coveted Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
In both the 10-minute short and the feature-length version, Wilkas stars as Matt — a gay comic-book enthusiast and would-be artist who is asked by his straight best friend, Jenn, (Jenn Harris) to father a baby for her, so that together they can share in the joys and wonders of modern parenthood. Lisecki’s clever and well-thought-out script delivers some poignant truths about friendship and kinship, dished up with plenty of over-the-top laughs.
“When we did that original short, I thought that the idea was really funny — that’s what attracted me the most,” Wilkas said. “But when I read that first script, I was also impressed that Jonathan’s writing was so natural. I really felt like he had a knack for understanding how we honestly speak to each other.”
Both of the key characters share their names with the actors portraying them, and that heightens the authenticity of the relationship in the film, Wilkas said.
“Jonathan essentially wrote it for Jenn and I,” he said. “So that’s why he kept our real names.”
The two truly are best friends in real life. When speaking of his leading lady, Wilkas becomes reflective.
“You know in the opening credits — those images of Jenn and I through the years? Those are our real-life photos from us in college, then us in New York 10 years ago. This little time capsule of our friendship is immortalized here,” he said. “Jenn is an inspiration to me. I talk to her every day, so there’s a real connection there that can’t be faked.”
Wilkas said he first discovered the joys of performing after his family moved to Camden, Maine, from Connecticut when he was 11.
“I was the new kid in school, and it was hard to adjust,” he recalled.
Auditioning for a school variety show titled Skits and Bits and Pieces helped provide him a great introduction to his classmates and gave him the acting bug.
Through this, he reported, more of his fellow students began taking an interest in him. “All of the people who were participating in this show became my friends, so I learned performing was kind of a way to make friends and impress people,” he said.
Besides enjoying the remarkable success of Gayby last year, Wilkas also realized his dream of appearing on Broadway when he stepped into the role of Peter Parker’s classmate and sometime-adversary Flash Thompson, as well as being the understudy for Peter Parker himself, in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
“I feel like I’ve stretched and learned so many things I never – ever — thought I was capable of doing before going into it!” he said. “For example, when I got the job, I certainly never dreamt I’d be flying over a Broadway house — it was a mind-blowing prospect. And to have learned it all and to have done it makes me feel like I can do anything!”
Now Wilkas is hoping that home-entertainment audiences will embrace Gayby.
“I hope that it reaches a broad audience — gay and straight,” he said, because he strongly believes in the optimistic message of the story, particularly the concept that true family is something you choose.
“That’s what has struck such an important chord with so many that have seen it,” he said. “It’s hard to think that sometimes the family you are given in life doesn’t work out to be the most supportive. But then you have to create your own family. There are all different kinds of families, and there are all different ways of making a family. One should never feel limited by their circumstances, so if you want to have a family — make it happen!”
Another theme that the film touches on that Wilkas particularly likes is that it really does take a village to raise a child.
“At the end of the film, you see that there isn’t just going to be just Jenn and Matt — this child is going to be lucky enough to have a whole bunch of ‘parents’ who each love it. And I think that goes along with that whole philosophy,” he said. “It’s a great movie, and I’m so very proud that something I’m in can really move audiences like this has.”
The film is now available on both DVD and video on demand at WolfeOnDemand.com. For more information, or to order online go to Amazon.com or www.wolfevideo.com.