EXCLUSIVE | '4400' star Wilder Yari says LGBTQ representation behind camera crucial
'4400' is the latest exciting sci-fi show on television right now and it has been hitting all the right notes. The series is a reboot of the original series that was released in 2004 and garnered rave reviews. Apart from having an intriguing storyline, the show also features a stellar cast. However, there's one actor that has nabbed all the eyeballs as the show continues to air on The CW. Yes, we are talking about none other than Wilder Yari, who plays the role of Jessica Tanner.
Yari is a Queer actor who has been a part of the industry for almost 8 years now. But acting has always been a part of their life. They take a lot of pride in representing the LGBTQ+ community and always look for roles that do justice to them. MEAWW caught up with Wilder Yari and spoke about their Iranian project and why having LGBTQ+ people behind the camera is more important than having them in front of it.
Q) Did you always want to be an actor? And how did your mother being associated with arts play a role in choosing your career?
Wilder: I did get involved with theatre pretty early on and had a lot of energy as a kid. My parents were like we need to put this energy into something special. So, yeah, I fell in love with acting at a very young age. I grew up in a very art-friendly household. My parents were very open to their kids being creative. I don’t think my parents wanted me to be an actress necessarily (laughs), but they were supportive. Then, I took a film course when I was a teenager and that really changed my trajectory and my perspective completely. The film course changed my whole life.
Q) Your character, Jessica Tanner, is different than who you are in real life. How did you play a role that’s nothing like you in real life?
Wilder: It is very challenging. But, you know it’s the job. I think desiring to play someone close to yourself is sort of, at least a part of that is based on ego, according to me. Your job as an actor is to serve the story above everything else. And I agree with the value of storylines as a whole. So, I am really happy to play this part and I think, I would feel differently if the show was presenting my character as someone who was doing the right thing.
Q) You wrote an Iranian short movie ‘Neem Rooni’. How was the experience writing the movie?
Wilder: My mom is an immigrant and she’s from Iran. She left Iran before the Shah fell in 1977. So, I grew up always wondering about this part of my heritage and it’s an interesting dynamic because she left with a lot of purposes. I believe that part of my heritage was available to me and not available at the same time, especially being a queer actor that is not really popular in Iran. So, it’s the desire to wanna know something that’s a part of your life and also feeling rejected by it at the same time. So, the movie is about a child of an Iranian immigrant that goes back to Iran to understand their family history and then there’s a family secret that gets uncovered.
I shared my story on Instagram a few years ago and a lot of people resonated with it because they had a similar story.
Q) So, the next set of questions is a bit of fun and will help your fans know a little more about you.
- Favorite Movie?
Wilder: ‘In the mood for Love’ by Wong Kar-wai
- Favorite Musician?
Wilder: I am into Remi Wolf right now (laughs).
- Favorite Cuisine?
Wilder: It would be Persian food.
- What do you do in your pastime?
Wilder: I am learning how to code (laughs) and I am really excited about it.
- If you were not an actor, which profession you would have chosen to be a part of?
Wilder: I would have probably been a Lawyer.
Q) You are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and you represent that in the entertainment industry as well. For many years, the actors from the aforementioned community are being given side roles and not playing the main leads. Do you believe that it’s changing now?
Wilder: Oh yes, absolutely it is changing right now. The biggest change for me has been representation behind the camera because it’s not enough to have queer characters if they are not being written responsibly. They just repeat the same stereotypes or the same mistakes and beliefs that end up holding communities back. Like 80% of the Americans haven’t met a Trans person, so the only way they understand what a Trans person is is through media. So, it’s crucial that these vulnerable communities are being treated with care and with dignity. So, we really need queer people behind the camera as well.
Q) What has been the most precious moment in your career and why?
Wilder: I believe, it was calling my dad and telling him that I got a part in ‘The 4400’. He’s a little bit older and I was really worried that he won’t be able to see me succeed in his lifetime. I remember calling him and I was like, ‘I got the part’, and he was like what do you mean? I told him that I got an actual role in a TV show and it’s not just one or two lines. So, definitely, that moment was really precious.