jeremy pope is telling himself yes

Jeremy Pope Is Telling Himself ‘Yes’

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When I first started [in drama school, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy], I was hearing from teachers, “If you’re going to be an artist, you’ve got to look like this, you’ve got to speak like this.” I spent so many years trying to be some version of what I thought people wanted, and because I wasn’t out, it was also, “Don’t be effeminate, don’t let people see that piece of you. Make women desire you.”

So for young Jeremy at 17, skinny and scrawny in New York, I wasn’t seeing myself represented. A lot of the time, people are asking you to abandon your truth and the things that make you unique, and if I’m coming out of a vulnerable place where I don’t even know who I am, you’re not giving me a chance to develop. I have a love-hate relationship with [drama] school because it does give you a lot of tools and teach you about the business, but I think sometimes it beats out these imperfections that make you so special.

How did you feel when you wrapped “The Inspection”?

Relieved that I made it out alive, literally. I almost drowned on set. That’s not something I want to talk about — that’s not my campaign, that it was “so rigorous and hard.” But I fought for my life on this film at times, and I was in a dark place personally because I was giving so much of myself to this project. So when I finished, it was definitely a feeling of relief, and I needed to start to build Jeremy back up again, emotionally and physically.

At one point in your life, you didn’t see a career path that would represent the real you. But now, in theater, TV and film, you’ve found projects so suited to you that they almost feel bespoke.

Right, and when I’m talking to other artists, I want them to know: Don’t abandon the things that make you unique, because the more you love those things and lead with them in your truth, the more you’ll find yourself in art where they’re catering to that. I get to lead, I get to trust, I get to show, I get to tell. And that goes back to little Jeremy, who was so scared to share out of this idea of, “Will it be good enough?” The stuff that I’ve been doing is good enough for an Elegance to want me to portray him in a film. There’s people out there who will love you for who you are.