“Teen Wolf” has always been about knocking down diversity barriers, whether it comes to race, sexuality or gender norms. The show doesn’t shy away from giving every character — gay or straight, black or white — complex and meaningful plots, which makes a powerful statement about inclusion.
Zap2it got to ask “Teen Wolf” stars Shelley Hennig (Malia), Arden Cho (Kira), Khylin Rhambo (Mason) and Holland Roden (Lydia) about the topic of diversity in Hollywood and how they see “Teen Wolf” as an example to aspire to.
Film is really struggling with diversity this year as we’ve seen with the Oscars, but how do you see ‘Teen Wolf’ a model of inclusion?
Shelley Hennig: We don’t struggle with that [laughs]. I don’t want to speak for the Oscars, but I think diversity – as far as “Teen Wolf” goes, we have a lot of diversity, whether it’s sexuality, race, strong females beating the s*** out of men. I mean, you’ve got Malia, who’s the big spoon, and Stiles, who’s the small spoon. If that’s not diverse, I don’t know what is.
And I think that’s what makes our show so great. And what I also like about it is our world, our little “Teen Wolf” world, no one questions that. It’s normal to them, and that is so encouraging. So I feel like – I feel like it’s not really a thing. It just exists, and it’s normal, and that’s what we are. And hopefully a lot more people catch on to that.
Do you guys read film scripts and notice those kinds of differences in the female characters and roles available?
Hennig: I think it depends. I really would only like to speak about as far as “Teen Wolf” goes because I think they do it so much that nothing can really compare. Because like every episode, every character, everybody has something unique and diverse about them, so there’s sort of no comparison.
Arden Cho: Yeah, and I think we’re really lucky with “Teen Wolf” because we have such a diverse group of writers as well … As actors it’s nice to have that and to feel like they actually want to portray us as strong women, as opposed to just the girlfriend or the sexy girl … Kira’s the perfect example, like if they would have written Kira as Kira Smith, she would have just been a white girl. But they chose Yukomora, forcing her to be Asian, and then once they went with me, they decided to sort of figure out who my parents were going to be. There were episodes set to sort of talk about our history and our background. I feel like “Teen Wolf” actually invests the time to do that.
Khylin Rhambo: Beacon Hills kind of created its own world that’s admirable in a sense. It’s so harmonious, where [diversity is] not even spoken about. It’s not even a thing. It’s not even the focus of anything. I think that’s really cool. It’s really cool to be a part of a show that’s doing something like that, and I feel like it actually can help other people. Just seeing that that’s possible.
‘Teen Wolf’ just had an alumnus come out — Charlie Carver. What was your reaction when that happened?
Holland Roden: He’s one of my best friends. I’m very close with the Carver family, and my first reaction, I turned to Max, and I went, “Isn’t he already out?” [laughs], and Max said, “Well not officially, no.”
I don’t want to speak for Charlie, but I know it’s something he thought about doing for a long time. This question, when you are a gay male in young Hollywood especially, and you play that leading man character, you’re caught in this rock and a hard place of “Is it needed to come out in 2016?” He came to the conclusion that yes, it was because although we live in Los Angeles … there are places where you can’t even go as a gay man in 2016. So he did feel it was important to take a stand and say this is part of who I am to that next person. “Be who you needed when you were younger.” That was why he chose that quote.
Both boys are so incredibly intelligent, and I was proud of them, and I had to be reminded, even as one of his very good friends, that this is why he has to do this still because we still need it in 2016. That fellowship.
“Teen Wolf” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV