Jeremy Pope has opened up about healing from his past experience with homophobia while filming The Inspection.
Back in October, the gripping A24 film – which was written and directed by Elegance Bratton – was released in UK cinemas to critical acclaim.
Set during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, the movie follows Ellis French (Pope), a Black gay man who enlists in the Marine Corps after his mother Inez (Gabrielle Union) disowns him.
Unfortunately, Ellis encounters more homophobia due to his training instructor Leland Laws (Bokeem Woodbine) and fellow recruit Laurence Harvey (McCaul Lombardi) hazing him for being gay – despite his best efforts at hiding his sexuality.
Shortly after its release, critics praised the film’s gripping storytelling and the Hollywood star’s groundbreaking and emotional performance as Ellis.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Pope opened up about the film and how his character helped him “heal” from his own experiences with homophobia.
“It was healing. I was able to put into this character things I had dealt with personally. I could say things and affirm Jeremy Pope through Ellis,” he told the news outlet.
“He gets to a place of self-respect where he only moves toward what serves him, and that’s something I’ve had to navigate as a Black queer artist.
“There are certain rooms and energies that don’t serve you, and it’s not your job to contort yourself to try to be a version of you that isn’t authentic.”
Pope then reflected on a situation where a director doubted his ability to play a straight character. Because of the archaic and anti-LGBTQ+ presumption, the young talent walked away from the film.
“As an actor, you don’t wanna feel like after every take you’ve got to go: ‘Didya believe it?'” he explained. “I never want to be difficult, but you have to ask: ‘Is this pouring anything into my cup?’ So I walked away.”
Fortunately, Pope secured The Inspection shortly after the ordeal, which helped him affirm that he was on the right path.
“It was an affirmation that I’m doing what I am meant to be doing,” he added.
“I think how much of a gamechanger this film could have been for me growing up and wanting to be an artist, but not seeing that represented in the mainstream.”
Pope’s interview comes a week after GLAAD announced that the Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award nominee would be receiving the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the GLAAD Media Awards.
“Jeremy Pope is one of today’s most talented and dynamic actors who has given life and excitement to important stories that impact and honour the LGBTQ community,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
“Offscreen, Pope has used his voice to have important conversations about being an out actor in Hollywood, which are key to continuing to erase stigma and bias that affect out actors today.”
Watch the trailer for The Inspection here or below