With South by Southwest in Austin underway, all the types of media are heading there to introduce their movies, music and multimedia. This is the place where recent best picture Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once made an early showing. So a lot can happen. For out actor Andrew Chappelle, he and his castmates will be hyping up the second season of his show Blindspotting on Thursday. 

“I’m most excited about reconnecting with everyone in one place,” he said by phone from Los Angeles prior to leaving for Austin. “I haven’t been hanging with the crew, plus I was out of town for Gay Ski Week.”

He and the cast will be previewing episodes of the new season before its premiere on Starz April 14. 

A spin-off and sequel of the film of the same name, the dramedy series centers on the character of Ashley and her son having to move in with her husband’s mother after he was incarcerated. Chappelle plays Scotty.

The last time Chappelle was in Austin, he was on tour with the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. This time around, he’s looking forward to being in the middle of the festival and its frenetic schedule of events and performances. 

“Someone was explaining to me how they close the streets and there’s live music everywhere,” he said. “So I hope to see a lot of shows.” 

But he’s there to speak about his character Scotty which is a role he’s thrilled to have. As a queer person of color, he’s able to play a queer POC on the show. In doing so, he describes the experience as a liberating one. 

“It’s incredibly freeing to portray a QPOC on television. I wanna say it’s one of the greatest feelings ever,” he said. “Being an actor, we have to morph into different parts and I love that creativity and imagination and how it can run wild. But on the other hand, there is something so beautiful portraying a version of yourself that feels authentic.”

In the first season, the show explores his work relationship with main character Ashley (played by Jasmine Cephas Jones). He said this new season has been even more fun in fleshing out the two’s relationship. 

“Jasmine’s character is trying to hold it together as best she can so we get to explore Scotty and hers relationship outside of work. But it’s also really representative of the relationship I’ve had with Jasmine after Hamilton,” he said. 

Chappelle was a member of the original cast of Hamilton as was Jones before the show hit Broadway. That theater family has continued to work together since. Daveed Diggs serves as one of the show’s executive producers and Anthony Ramos has guest starred on the show as well. 

So not only is Chappelle playing a character close to his own identity, he gets to do it amongst friends. 

“The creators know me and they  are writing specifically for me,” he said. “ The way I exist in this world and how Scotty sounds just like me – that’s been the most fun.”

For Chappelle, it’s a cherished opportunity. 

“I feel amazing how far we’ve come. This is special and rare and as someone who is a QPOC, striving to remain in the industry, there aren’t as many of us as one might think. This role speaks to the importance of representation,” he said. “I see the world changing in ways that are not great, but I, as this actor, have to stay resilient. We all do in many ways. Tears are necessary, but we can take pause, let what’s happening around us affect us and then take action.”

Davere Rogers and Andrew Chappelle in ‘Fanatic.’ (Courtesy)

Part of Chappelle’s own action is his short film Fanatic which has just hit the festival circuit. 

Centered on two former boy band stars reuniting, The film was a result of his pandemic downtime and now he’s navigating the film festivals with it. 

“I was twiddling my thumbs and I wanted to create something, but I wanted to make something people could laugh and enjoy. I’m so proud of the end product and if it gets acquired, I do want to explore what it looks like as a full-length.”

Watch the trailer here.

But for now, he’s doing the South By thing for Blindspotting and when the work is done, it’ll be time to enjoy Austin. 

“I remember it as one of my favorite cities on the tour before, so I’m waiting to participate in this experience,” he said. 

–Rich Lopez