I took 'Grease' to play my trump card, my voice, and get attention that would lead to auditions for serious work like 'Angels in America.' But I backed myself into a corner with 'Grease,' and it took me 17 years to get out.
I love the community of theater. There is something about the camaraderie: People who show up eight times a week to do a show. It's unlike any other business. It's just lovely. You feel like you're in a family.
I grew up when one of America's greatest black playwrights, August Wilson, was writing about life in Pittsburgh, but I never saw myself in any of his straight-male plays. And then I see 'Angels,' which was so honest and painful, and it had this black drag queen in it, Belize, with a big heart. I finally had a character to relate to.
For me, life is about being positive and hopeful, choosing to be joyful, choosing to be encouraging, choosing to be empowering.
I was so beat down as a young person - being black, being gay, being unable to assimilate because I could never, ever pull off being butch.
When I had a record deal in the '90s, that was my dream - to make an album like Barbra Streisand's Broadway album - and they laughed me out of the room. Broadway wasn't cool. But artists like Michael Buble and Josh Groban have brought the classic genre back to the forefront, so I'm trying to find my way inside that market.
If you gauge how you're doing on whether somebody is responding vocally or not, you're up a creek. You can't do that; you kind of have to be inside of your work and play the scene. And tell the story every day. Tell the story. Tell the story. Regardless of how people are responding, I'm going to tell the story.