Mad Men actor talks marriage, Matt Weiner & Eastsiders

Pages from BLEEPmag505-2Kit Williamson played Ed Gifford on the groundbreaking show “Mad Men,” but rather than dwelling on the end of the series, he’s looking ahead to his future that includes marriage to his fiancé John Halbach and the next season of his show, “Eastsiders.”

You’ve worked on stage and on screen. When were you bit by the performing bug?
I started performing early on in my life doing Shakespeare workshops in Mississippi at the New Stage Theater. I knew I wanted to make a life out of it, I just didn’t know what kind of life. I kinda pictured myself doing a little bit of everything. I am fortunate to say, 20 years later, that I have done a little bit of everything.

You’ve had the privilege of being a part of “Mad Men,” a show that will go down as one of television’s best.
It’s been incredible to be a part of a show about history that is now, itself, a part of history. I think people will look back on “Mad Men” as groundbreaking in every way a TV series could be groundbreaking. I’m so proud to be a part of Matt Weiner’s vision and to have had a character that’s seen several years on the show. The part grew from two lines to 10 episodes and has been an incredible gift. When I first was cast in the role, I didn’t know it would recur, but the writers kept bringing me back and I’m grateful for that.

Your show, “Eastsiders” is coming back for a second season.
It’s a dark comedy about a gay couple trying to stay together through infidelity in Silver Lake, Calif. I created it and I write and direct all the episodes. The first two episodes were on YouTube and the response was incredible. We were able to reach our crowdfunding goal in four days for that first season. After the campaign, we were approached by LOGO to air the remainder of the episodes on their digital platform. Since then, the show has been broadcast on cable channels, the DVDs are out and the first season is coming to Amazon Prime. This last year, we raised $153,000 to shoot a second season which is much more ambitions, produced completely independently, and I’m so excited for people to see it.

You’re engaged – why was it important to you to be so public about it?
Yes I’m engaged to my fiancé John Halbach. I grew up in Mississippi, a state which still has a ban on gay marriage on the books and a state that I don’t believe will ever see gay marriage as being fully legal unless it’s a federal mandate. The homophobia is too deep-seeded in the culture, much like racism is so deep seeded. But beyond the political issue, it felt like the right time in our lives to take that next step and the next chapter in our lives. At a certain point, it felt inaccurate to call the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with, my boyfriend.

What’s next?
I’m very much looking forward to season two of “Eastsiders.” We are in post-production and a release date announcement is coming soon. Also, I’m moving into pre-production on my first feature film. It’s about a doctor in the free HIV clinic. A couple comes in and one has stopped his meds and doesn’t have access to drug assistance programs in his state. His HIV has become life threatening because of that. This is near and dear to my heart and I’m excited to announce as my next project. People want to put HIV in the past tense and act like there aren’t modern struggles. It’s not as simple as popping a pill – it’s a lifelong struggle.

For more, head over to http://www.kitwilliamson.com

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