best kept to the worst kept secret in less than a month: 90210’s Teddy—the moneyed tennis pro played by Trevor Donovan—will tiptoe out of the closet this fall. In the following exclusive interview, exec producer Rebecca Sinclair reveals when she realized Teddy preferred guys over gals, previews his first same-sex romance, and recalls Donovan’s initial reaction upon learning that he’d be playing gay.It went from being the
Why did you wait a whole season before starting to unravel the story of Teddy’s sexuality?
REBECCA SINCLAIR: [We wanted] to play a coming out story that features a kid we already knew. Instead of his sexuality being the first and defining characteristic, we’ve already gotten a chance to know Teddy before he explores his sexuality. Teddy’s an athlete, he’s a famous guy’s son, he’s blonde and hunky and yes, he also has a sexual orientation and that’s a huge part of his life. In a lot of ways I think that’s more interesting than Teddy is a gay athlete, a gay famous guy’s son and a blonde and hunky gay gentleman.
Did you know Teddy would be gay when he was first introduced?
SINCLAIR: No. We thought he was just a womanizer. But then—and this often happens with characters—we started to wonder about the deeper life of the character. Was he a womanizer, or was he really covering for something?
How will Teddy’s coming out story be different from Adrianna’s?
SINCLAIR: There are obviously an infinite number of ways that teenagers can experience the realization that they are attracted to members of the same sex. And I guess our ultimate goal would be to tell a whole range of stories that depict different facets of the issue of gayness—or non-straightness, you might say. Adrianna’s was a much lighter story. For Adrianna, having bisexual feelings was confusing but it didn’t rattle her too deeply. She realized that for her, gender was less important than the individual in terms of finding someone she wanted to date. Frankly, for Adrianna as long as her significant other dotes on her, tells her she’s amazing, and that her hair looks pretty, she doesn’t care what gender they are. With Teddy, we’re attempting to tell a much more dramatic story about a something that rattles him to his core. Though, thankfully, we live in an age where lots of teens are comfortable with their sexual orientation and are able to come out when they’re in high school or even before, we didn’t want to ignore the reality that for lots of kids the road to self-acceptance for a gay teenager isn’t easy. This is going to be a dramatic, at times painful, but hopefully ultimately cathartic journey for him.
How will the story unfold? Does Teddy have an epiphany?
SINCLAIR: As a top-tier athlete and the son of a famous—and famously womanizing—actor, Teddy has always felt the need to keep up appearances. He’s had trouble reconciling the image that the world has of him with his own true sense of self. And he’s worked hard to repress whatever homosexual feelings he’s had. But early on in this season, something shakes up the structure of his life. With stability and routine out the window, he has trouble repressing who he really is. He acts impulsively and ends up hooking up with a guy. So it’s less of an epiphany than an impulsive act that sets things in motion.
Let’s talk about that guy (played by Kyle Riabko, inset above).
SINCLAIR: Kyle is absolutely terrific, charming and talented. He plays Ian, a self-confident, funny guy who is very much out and comfortable with his gayness.
Is there an immediate attraction?
SINCLAIR: I think there is an immediate attraction. But Teddy is very uncomfortable with the feelings he has and is certainly not up for the kind of mature normal relationship that Ian has had in the past and would expect from a boyfriend.
How long will Kyle be around for?
SINCLAIR: Hopefully he will be around for a long time. Certainly for season 3.
90210 doesn’t shy away from allowing its straight characters to express their sexuality. Will the show be as frank in its depiction of Teddy’s romantic relationships?
SINCLAIR: I hope so.
When did you inform Trevor that his character was going to be gay? How did that conversation go?
SINCLAIR: [Fellow EP] Jennie Urman and I called Trevor and told him the story we wanted to tell. I think he was surprised and maybe a bit taken aback initially. But as we discussed it with him and told him the kind of stories we wanted to tell, he got excited. I think he recognized that it was a good opportunity as an actor and he was excited by the idea of telling the story of a character’s journey that would mean a lot to gay teenagers and other teenagers who are learning to be honest about who they are and what they feel.