Daniel Newman has, in some ways, lived out his dream numerous times.
The Georgia native was only 12 years old when he landed his first guest role on a TV series, and since that time he’s worked steadily as an actor on both the big and small screens.
The lifelong horror fan has even had the opportunity to step into dream roles along the way including 2012’s television adaptation of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn in which he took on the role of Malachai, the lethal enforcer and right-hand to crazed child preacher Isaac.
The actor called the experience a “magical” one that allowed him to just let go and have an amazing time among the rows.
It was his guest-starring turn in The Walking Dead, however, that really seemed to put him on the radar of many horror fans. It was an exciting role for him, but one that he also entered with a bit of trepidation.
“It was really crazy,” the actor told me in our interview, “because I expected it to be like a lot of hit shows that I’ve been on where it’s a tight group cast and you can’t really fit in, but on the first day Melissa McBride ‘Carol’ came up to me in the trailer saying, ‘Daniel! How have you been? I’ve missed you so much!’ I thought I was being pranked, but then I suddenly realized she was actually my casting director on projects when I was a kid! I totally forgot. So she really brought me into the cast and made me feel at home.”
And yet, through most of his career, perhaps his best acting went on off-screen. It was, in fact, in the wake of his success on The Walking Dead, he says, when reporters and journalists began to ask him about his personal life. Did he have a girlfriend? Was he in a relationship? What did he he look for in a potential girlfriend?
In those moments, the bisexual actor’s story became one that wasn’t so different from many actors. For years he was told if he came out it would kill his career, that it would destroy all the work his agents had done, and that it was just really “none of other people’s business anyway.”
Like so many before him, the actor bought into that lie until he found himself confronted by a far different reality.
Newman was volunteering at a shelter for LGBTQ youth when one of the young people there approached him and thanked him for being so nice to them. She said it in such a way that acknowledged the line that everyone on the queer spectrum knows exists.
In response, Newman told her that he was one of them.
“I thought she would be happy when I told her I also am part of the community,” he explained, “but she was furious and she said ‘why do celebrities and public people stay in the closet when they are successful! It hurts the whole community.’ I remembered thinking the exact same thing all throughout my youth being so mad that successful people weren’t out and proud representing all of us.”
When the actor left the shelter that day, he went home and came out publicly on Twitter and on YouTube saying he didn’t want to give himself an out to backtrack on his decision.
With the statement made, he sat down to await the career implosion that he’d be warned about his entire life. To his shock, however, the destruction never came. In fact, he says, he began to get more offers than he’d had before.
Today, Newman continues his work onscreen while also touring with his band and working in the technology industry. That has not stopped his activism, however, and if anything, it has more solidified his stance on representation in the entertainment industry.
“I think the mistake throughout the past in LGBTQ roles was to marginalize them and sexualize them,” Newman pointed out, “rather than to humanize them and base the characters and narratives on relatable human attributes. There are hundreds of millions of diverse LGBTQ people around the world and nothing could be broader than the personalities and character types of our culture.”
Personally, I couldn’t agree more.