Hal Sparks Tackles Politics, Civil Rights, Radio, and... Disney?
Comedian and political talk radio co-host Hal Sparks, 41, won our hearts as the charming "Michael Novotny" on the groundbreaking Showtime hit series Queer As Folk from 2000-2005. In the series, Sparks starred opposite fan favorite Sharon Gless and alongside Gale Harold, Thea Gill, Michelle Clunie, Randy Harrison, Scott Lowell, Peter Paige, Robert Gant, Jack Wetherall, and other notable actors who have since gone on to do incredible work in the industry - many on behalf of the gay community.
For Hal, being thrust into the gay community but not being gay himself was not so much a challenge for the Cincinnati, Ohio native, but an opportunity. He entered the civil rights movement for his gay brothers and sisters with grace, dignity, respect, and compassion. Okay...and a lot of humor.
Since the show’s end in 2005, Sparks has continued to warm our hearts with roles on VH1’s I Love the ’80s series, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Spider-Man 2, and Dude, Where’s My Car? He regularly travels the country touring with his comedy (headlining across the U.S. currently - see here for dates) and music projects with his band Zero 1.
Hal can regularly be heard on the Stephanie Miller Show and, in this exclusive interview, he confirms a new project booked the same day we spoke...
Sarah Toce: Hey Hal, how are you?
Hal Sparks: I’m spectacular, how are you?
Sarah Toce: So, tell me - it’s pilot season. What’s going on?
Hal Sparks: I just booked a new series for the Disney Channel called Lab Rats. You’re the first person to get told. Congratulations!
Sarah Toce: Oh, thank you. I can die happy.
Hal Sparks: Aww, I prefer you didn’t die at all.
Sarah Toce: Well, thank you and congratulations, truly. Disney is a bit of a shift, isn’t it?
Hal Sparks: It’s interesting after being on Queer As Folk. It is kind of a blessing that I can go on to do family fare after being on that show. I think it shows a shift in the world of entertainment. It would’ve been impossible 10 years ago.
Sarah Toce: I remember watching Queer As Folk and recalling how it felt so much like home and a reflection of my LGBT friends and family, and how funny it was being that it was not mainstream American television at all at that time. It was, however, my reality in a lot of ways.
Hal Sparks: Right, exactly. If you’re involved in cases and causes like the LGBT community are, then it normalizes you very quickly. If you’re not, then every little piece of the story shocks you, apparently. I mean everything! You know, it reminds me of that old David Cross bit he used to have about being Jewish in Atlanta where he says, "Ya’ll eat oatmeal? I don’t know much about y’alls people. I know you killed Jesus, I know that." You know? That is how straight people treat gay people unless they are already allies.
Sarah Toce: I’m sorry, I’ve talked with you before and never even thought to ask... Did the show [Queer As Folk] turn you into an ally for the LGBT community or had you always been fighting for equality right along beside us?
Hal Sparks: Well, I think it made it [my commitment] more visible to the world at large, but by no means did it initiate my connection to the community. I had been working with Marianne Williamson for a decade before the show started. I started working with her when she started Project Angel Food and AIDS Project Los Angeles. She was one of the first board members and we did a lot of volunteer work for them. There were vigils and, in the depth of the AIDS crisis, we were right there. I think the reality of the situation you’re in changes you to some degree. I don’t think I was ever particularly insensitive to it, although, I was a redneck teenager so I would’ve been shocked if I appeared that way. I was lucky enough to be left alone to my own decisions at a very young age. I did not have "the gays are awful and blacks are bad" thing pounded into me. I think it was because everyone around me thought that I felt the same way they did so they didn’t bother to give me the hard sell. So, I sidestepped that, you know?
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