Gavin Lewis, A Platform with Purpose
From being the lead role in “Prince of Peoria” on Netflix to transitioning to starring in the highly anticipated Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere”, Gavin Lewis has quickly made a name for himself as a young actor. On “Little Fires Everywhere” he’s gotten to work with Kerry Washington and Oscar-Winner, Reese Witherspoon. Having these big roles, Lewis has found himself with a large platform to speak to others. Having Type 1 Diabetes, Lewis uses this platform to raise awareness and educate people about his condition. The actor has quickly climbed into fame and is using his fame for good.
You’ve recently been in “Prince of Peoria” which is a comedy aimed towards a younger audience. How was it transitioning from this to “Little Fires Everywhere” which is a drama for an adult audience?
Moving from “Prince of Peoria” to “Little Fires Everywhere” was a fun and challenging transition. I had done a good deal of dramatic work before playing Prince Emil, but in the six months of filming “Prince of Peoria” I got used to playing a very certain type of character and energy. When you spend roughly eight to ten hours a day embodying a specific character, it becomes sort of engrained. Adjusting to the new style and character of Moody in “Little Fires Everywhere” was a good acting exercise and just a great opportunity as an actor. Actors don’t often get to play such extremes and I really enjoyed being on two shows that are so different in tone. I loved having the chance to play both ends of the spectrum.
How did you prepare for the role of ‘Moody Richardson’?
I did a few different things to prepare for the role of Moody. My first step was reading the book, which I did during the audition process. That gave me an excellent guide to the character thanks to Celeste Ng’s tremendous skill as a writer. Her characters were so rich, there was a lot of backstory and relationship information to pull from. Then Liz Tigelaar and the writers were able to take those characters even further in adapting a 200-page book to 8 hours of television. I was provided with so much great material to draw my character choices from in both the book and the scripts. I also did a bunch of research on the 1990’s. Being born in 2003, I knew very little about the time period when the story takes place and learning about it was so interesting. I watched shows, listened to music, and read articles from the 90’s. I had a great deal of fun doing it.
What was it like working among the talents of Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon?
It really was so amazing working with such talented actors. I feel that as an actor there are always people and performances you look up to and wish to emulate someday. It was sometimes hard to get my head around the fact that was I lucky enough to be working side by side with those people. Being in a scene with an Oscar winning actress, who brings all that talent and experience, was almost surreal and just unbelievably fun. Reese is also not only a great actor but she’s a great person as well. She was so much fun to work with and has the best sense of humor. The kindness, energy and wit she brought to the set was the cherry on top for the whole experience.
Aside from acting, you do a lot for Type 1 Diabetes awareness and education. Do you have any advice for any kids your age handling Diabetes?
I would tell a newly diagnosed young person with type 1 diabetes, that even though there are days it can be hard, focus on the positives. Living with type 1 doesn’t have to change the way you live, and there are a lot of ways it can even make you healthier. It helps me stay aware of how I eat, and keeping active and healthy. I also would recommend becoming part of a type 1 community. I work with Beyond Type 1, Nick Jonas’ organization, and I’ve met so many inspiring people who don’t let diabetes slow them down. It gets easier with time, and I would want someone newly diagnosed to know that they’re not alone. There’s a massive community of support and a ton of resources available.
You’ve talked about your love for playing the guitar. Would you ever consider taking a dive into the music industry or would you prefer to stick to acting.
As much as I do love to play, I think I’ll stick to acting. It’s funny that I’ll happily go up on stage and display my most private emotions to the world as an actor, but I get nervous when I’m asked to play a couple chords. I can, and will play for people, but it admittedly fills me with a special kind of dread.
Your career has started so fast at such a young age. What has been the craziest part of your transition into fame?
I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten the opportunities I have in this industry at my age. This is one of the most difficult jobs to break into, and one of my favorite analogies is, “it’s like catching lightning in a bottle”. So, I don’t really know that I’ve transitioned into fame. It’s been pretty amazing to be a part of some really great projects with great people, but at least at this point, I feel far more lucky than famous.
What actors have given you inspiration?
I have a long list of actors who inspire me, but there are a few that stand out. Benedict Cumberbatch is a big inspiration for me. His versatility and the depth of emotion he brings to his roles is amazing. I’m always inspired by actors who can play distinctly different characters, so Meryl Streep is also someone whose work I am in awe of. There are so many great actors with specific nuances in their performances that inspire me; Harrison Ford has incredibly expressive eyes, Ryan Reynolds has amazing timing, and Dwayne Johnson has his inexplicable likability.
Both of your parents work in Theatre. What’s the biggest piece of advice they’ve given you in regards to your acting career?
I think one of the most important things my parents have helped me with is patience. They taught me that finding success as an actor is a marathon, not a sprint. To focus on my training in between jobs, not how quickly the next job comes. I’ve auditioned literally hundreds of times and I don’t think I’ve ever felt frustrated for not being cast. I give the credit to my mom and dad.
Do you ever get nervous being on set? If so, what do you do to try to calm your nerves?
It’s actually rare for me to get nervous on set at this point, but when I do get nervous my solution is pretty simple. Go over my lines. I’ve found that being nervous usually sprouts from knowing I’m not as prepared as would I like to be. I’m always the most confident as an actor when I know my lines forward and backward, so preparation is what keeps by nerves at bay.
What would your dream role be?
Since I started acting, I’ve wanted to be cast in an action movie. I would love the experience of being a sharply dressed hero, or a crazed villain.
By Shannen Tierney
Photography Credit IRVIN RIVERA