Emerson Collins has made a name for himself in TV, as co-star of Bravo’s The People’s Couch; on Internet radio, as co-host of The Del and Emerson Show; and in films like Southern Baptist Sissies, recently released on DVD.
“I have no idea what opportunities will arise, but when they do come, I look at my life and the steps I take with the idea that I want to be ready to say yes,” Collins says.
Much like the character he plays in Southern Baptist Sissies, Collins grew up in Texas, where the First Baptist Church of Houston played an important part in his daily life.
“My parents were both singers,” he says, “and they did a giant Christmas pageant every year — it was even broadcast on NBC. They started rehearsals in August, and we did 20 performances in December.”
Accompanying his parents to these rehearsals from a very young age, he would be given the role of a shepherd boy or the like.
“We were all in it as a family, so that’s when it started for me,” Collins says, “as a fun way to be a part of performing. And I sang all my life growing up, too.”
When he was 16, the family moved to Southeast Asia. Collins says that experience prepared him to embrace the world as he does today.
“My father’s job moved our family to Singapore from suburban Houston,” he explains. “So I spent the last two years of high school there, and it was definitely culture shock in the best possible way. At a formative age, I was able to experience how vastly varied our world is, and it had a great impact on my worldview — in fact, I have always found that any city can be great and interesting if you find the right people to experience it with.”
Collins says that there are definitely elements in Southern Baptist Sissies that he can relate to.
“I attended Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist institution, so it’s a world that I am very familiar with,” he says. “Of course the individual journeys of the characters are different, but it is a theme that’s close to my heart, and that’s why I’m so passionate about it.”
While working in Dallas, he landed a part in a regional production of Southern Baptist Sissies. That’s how he first met the play’s author, Del Shores, who asked him to come to Los Angeles to be a part of the production there.
“Doing the play was so important to me personally,” Collins says. “It’s why I moved to Los Angeles, and I was fortunate to fall into a built-in family with the ‘Del Shores players’ (so to speak), so I hit the ground running!”
After he arrived in Los Angeles, a national tour of the show was set up. Given Collins’ experience working in large theaters, he was asked to join Shores in producing it. This became the actor’s first opportunity as a producer, while still performing in Sissies opposite such seasoned performers as Leslie Jordan, Dale Dickey and Delta Burke,.
“So I really fell backwards into producing,” he says.
This passion and familiarity with the material led to the movie version of the play, which is effectively done as a direct filming of the stage production. Collins partnered with Shores and Louise H. Beard to create Beard Collins Shores Productions, which produced the film version of Southern Baptist Sissies, and also presents The Del and Emerson Show.
Heard at 5 p.m. (Central Time) on Wednesdays at Del and Emerson Show, The Del and Emerson Show focuses on LGBT interests and issues of the day, with loads of politically incorrect humor and razor-sharp commentary.
“Del and I have such a blast doing the show every week,” Collins says. “Obviously, he and I both have a tendency toward soapboxing, and we wanted a way to do that in a format longer than a Facebook post or tweet. We really wanted to focus on actual gay news, and news related to gay issues and projects. Throughout the week, we watch what news stories materialize that get a significant reaction on LGBT social media, and then compile our favorites … then we just have a great time!”
Collins says that listeners can tune in live while also participating in the website’s chat room. Afterwards, the Universal Broadcasting Network makes the show available free on iTunes for listening any time.