Following the success of 'Andi Mack', the first series on Disney Channel to star an openly gay character, it is safe to say that popular actor and social activist Lilan Bowden's life has come a full circle. 'Andi Mack' encourages being true and comfortable about oneself in their own skin. For Bowden, who has been an active participant in support of LGBTQ campaigns, an opportunity to be a part of the show was a truly elevating experience.
Bowden plays Andi's (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) mother, who, at the start of the show was introduced as her sister since their family wanted to keep it a secret. The show follows a 13-year-old Andi Mack and her best friends, Cyrus Goodman, and Buffy Driscoll, as they attend middle school and their journey.
While much of the focus is on Andi, one of the most beautiful moments of the show was when Andi, who has had a crush on Jonah (Asher Angel) since the start of the series found ample support from Cyrus (Joshua Rush, the first gay main character). And while he has a girlfriend already, he gets jealous when Jonah starts reciprocating Andi's feelings. This is the first instance when he realizes that he likes Jonah.
The scene when Cyrus confesses his feelings to Buffy is brilliantly captured where his confusion and fear of being "weird and different" is shown, even as she goes on to reassure him saying, "Cyrus, you’ve always been weird, but you’re not different."
Talking about the show on the sidelines of the recently concluded 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards that recognizes and honors the media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, Bowden felt that her role in the show was everything for her since she had been actively campaigning for the community for a long time.
"I identify myself as an ally and in high school, I was part of the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). At 17, I was working for the Human Rights Campaign that looks at LGBTQ rights," she said.
The Gay-Straight Alliance is a student-led or community-based organization, found in middle schools and high schools as well as colleges and universities, primarily in the United States and Canada, that is intended to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children, teenagers, and youth.
The 33-year old went on to add that it was an honor to be part of the show that was so progressive in its storyline, thereby encouraging kids to not be ashamed of who they are.
The fact that she's able to combine her passion for acting and social causes is heartening to see. Bowden went on to add that she could relate closely to the community as she understood that life would always not go in the direction or the ease that people would like it to go. Born to a Taiwanese mother and an American father, Bowden herself went through challenging phases during her acting career, a profession that she passionately pursued. While for an actor, the biggest challenge is coping with rejection, the battle for the minority community was to be accepted as 'normal' human beings.
Here's hoping that Bowden and Andi Mack continue to change the world's views on being LGBTQ positively.