Alexander, Coutts, and Cruz: Driven by Passion

Photo by David Morton

Brian Richardson welcomed Ian Alexander, Emily Coutts, and Wilson Cruz to the Marriott Atrium Friday at 11:30AM for a Q&A that allowed each actor the opportunity to explore and reflect upon their passions and interests.

While the actors share much in common, including their work together in episodic television, they had very different views on Dungeons and Dragons. While working together their colleague, Anthony Rapp, organized a D&D campaign. Alexander has the most gaming experience and introduced the audience to three different characters they played. Coutts played as well, creating a cleric with a “lovely coat.”  It was Cruz who “never got it.”  Creating a character seemed like more work which was not something he was terribly interested in doing for free!

Just because he’s not into D&D doesn’t mean Cruz isn’t passionate outside of work. Multiple times during the hour he spoke of his commitment to and support of the work being done by GLSEN, an organization committed to fostering safe and inclusive environments in schools for LGBTQ+ students. The organization seeks to make schools safe and inclusive through four priorities: the development of supportive educators, advocating for comprehensive school policies, inclusive curricula, and supportive student organizations (GSAs). Cruz serves as the organization’s board chair, and he credited Ian Alexander as a source of inspiration. According to him, when he thinks of the work GLSEN is doing, he thinks of Alexander’s experience. Alexander in turn pointed out that they came out in high school and the school’s GSA (Gay Student Association) made a huge difference for them precisely because it offered them a safe space. For Cruz, his advocacy is an expression of a commitment to give the next generation a better, brighter, and more positive future. You can learn more about GLSEN by visiting their website.

Alexander reflected on their own efforts to represent nonbinary and trans people in their work. If such characters had been present during their teen years, it would have been a “game changer.”  Being able to do this work now is significant, valuable, and “precious.”  They appreciate the opportunity and the responsibilities that come with the work.

Emily Coutts, long a photographer, has expanded her creative repertoire to writing and directing independent films. A “nerd” for film, she now writes and directs her own work. She described the excitement of directing a project and “watching it all come together.”  Independent film is “all passion and all heart.”  She loves to learn about all facets of the film making process and wants to understand what each crew member does. Coutts described the “magic” that happens when all the separate parts of a production come together in a film, referring to it as “a miracle.” Cruz pointed out that its only when watching other actors that one realizes how much difference the “little things” actors do to realize their characters make. Coutts then followed by pointing out that good writers leave space for actors to fill in those moments and facilitate the “magic” of acting.

Each actor draws inspiration from a wide variety of sources. For Cruz, it ranges from politicians to LGBTQ students. Coutts, the photographer and film maker, draws inspiration from colors, the patterns of rugs, and watching people. She’s fascinated by the human equation and loves to find inspiration in the lives and experiences of people. Alexander loves music and is inspired at live shows when artists “truly” perform. Passion defines these three actors, and they have fully embraced it.

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