Faking It returns tonight and things are bound to get Karmy-cated! It feels like an eternity since Karma and Amy were smooching in the pool, denying their feelings for each other and ultimately parting ways for a much needed BFF timeout. And what about Shane Harvey? Our favorite sassypants has left us concerned, unglamorous and clammering to the boisterous boy we once knew and loved. But, don’t worry all you Shane lovers — the spectacle might initially revolve around the shows leading ladies, but some of the best drama seems to be swirling around this cheeky lad, who has found himself caught in the crossfires between Karma and Amy, who after a summer apart might not quite be on the same page anymore. Ruh oh, trouble for Karmy? Trouble for Shane? The anxiety is already too much to handle!
When we last saw Shane, things weren’t really going his way– he had lost his MMA fighter boyfriend Duke to his tall tales, and headed down a slippery slope of self-hatred and un-Shane like behavior. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for a little self-discovery when the show returns, and with that a little lovin’ for the openly gay teen.
Michael Willett, who plays Shane, will undoubtedly be dishing out the drama when the series returns for its third season on MTV. His character has had some ups and downs, but we reckon he’ll bounce back… better than ever. I recently caught up with Willett, who at this point feels like an old friend, where we discussed the show’s evolution, its importance in the LGBTQ community and he even gave the fans some relationship advice if you’re struggling with a Karmy-cated situation in real life. Seriously, his wise words would have cost me 150 bucks an hour. We also talked about his new music, artwork, and his obsession with new beginnings.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: We’re looking forward to Faking It returning tonight! Now that Hester High has been saved from closing down, what does that mean for the students? Will we pick up right after summer when the show comes back?
MICHAEL WILLETT: The show picks up at the end of the summer, right before school starts again and in terms of Hester High itself, it will not be the same. Certain things have to change. That’s sort of the thing that I’ve been saying a lot when I’ve been talking about this season is that things are changing. That affects everyone.
MM: Is Principal Turner still going to be around? Can you say that or is that something that might spoil it?
WILLETT: Principal Turner will not be there, no. That’s all I can say.
MM: Will Felix be around or is that another thing you can’t really reveal?
WILLETT: No, Felix is around. He is around.
MM: Ooh, that’s interesting. We’re looking forward to that. Now, obviously you guys are on your third season. Do you guys have any rituals when you come back—that first table read? Is there anything that you guys do to kind of get back into action?
WILLETT: [laughs] No, but we should. We should have something. We’re usually just pretty happy to see each other because people have been busier and it’s harder to hang out. I just love seeing them every day.
MM: Do you think you would say that’s the best part about being a part of Faking It—the cast?
WILLETT: I think so. Just for me, it’s the combination of the material—I get to do a different stuff and it’s a lot of wish fulfillment in a lot of ways—but also the people I work with. Everyone is really a really great person and not only that, but we really respect each other. And Carter Covington, the showrunner, he really has set the bar for how everyone acts on set—from the crew, everybody. It’s really been a pleasure.
MM: Of course. And you kind of get to work with some familiar faces like George Northy who is a writer on the show that you worked with on G.B.F. Any chance there is going to be a second movie? I’m still hoping for that.
WILLETT: [laughs] I have heard no word of that but, yeah, it is fun to see familiar faces. You know, George is perfect for this show. It’s the perfect move for both of us really, it’s like the next step.
MM: As you know, Faking It was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. How does it feel to be a part of a show that’s breaking ground and getting the recognition it deserves?
WILLETT: I’m glad that it’s being acknowledged because it’s something that we set out to do in the beginning and you don’t always get what you want, but I really have. I’ve been able to do pieces that are not only entertaining, but are meaningful and I really believe that is what art has the power to do is affect society.
MM: Were there any shows or movies out when you were younger that you looked up to or turned to in terms of LGBT visibility?
WILLETT: I always try to think about what my first encounter with gay people via the media and the first one I can think of is on Mrs. Doubtfire. I love that movie, but Harvey Fierstein is the gay uncle and they never really addressed it. They sort of talk about it and it’s so normal and that, for me, was very ground-breaking. That movie still means a lot to me. I think that’s the earliest memory I have of seeing a gay person.
MM: Wow, that’s so awesome. I never would have thought of that. And that just kind of proves the point that it just seemed so normal at the time. They didn’t really make it a big thing that he was any different from anybody else, so I think that’s a really great answer.
WILLETT: Right? And as a little kid, it was really great to consume media that was promoting a healthy perspective on the gay experience. He was just another member of the family. I’m actually the product of a divorce too so that movie in a lot of ways was really big for me.
MM: That’s refreshing to hear it resonated with you. Now, in terms of your character, are you ever shocked or excited to read that people love the show so much and especially your character.
WILLETT: No, you only hope that it will be well-received. You never really know. I’m not shocked but I’m pleasantly surprised and I’m excited that people are connecting with it and connect with my character because I get that it’s not necessarily realistic. This is a heightened reality where it’s almost pushed into the future where it’s a little more progressive and a little more accepting and I think that’s something to look up to.
MM: Definitely. I love this show; it’s one of my favorites and I’m super glad to see it coming back and I’ve been waiting for some more seasons. Do you have any advice for someone who might have more than ‘friend’ feelings for their bestie, since the show has a central theme of that?
WILLETT: It’s a cool thing because, where do you draw the line internally and externally, you know? I think that’s what’s really interesting about the show, it’s exploring a relationship between two females where girls can sort of blur the line more than boys can. They can be—they almost are—the replacement boyfriend or girlfriend in a lot of ways and they’re filling that emotional role. It’s a really tough thing to navigate. I think it’s just important to be honest with yourself and set boundaries for yourself that keep you emotionally safe. You need to protect yourself and I think that’s the thing I keep wanting Amy to do. I don’t know that she’s protecting herself or standing up for herself and hopefully we’ll see more of that in season three.
MM: Do you think she made the right decision for herself going away for the summer and just doing her own thing so she could get some distance between her and Karma?
WILLETT: I do. I personally do because I feel like if it’s healthy for them to have their own experience and adventure. It’s just for the summer. It’s not that long guys. It’s, what, a few months at the most? I think they’ll be okay.
MM: I think a lot of people were like, “oh, no, why is this happening?” but I think at the same time it’s a short time and Amy wants to be friends with her. She just needs a little space to be able to continue so I think that people will find that unravel as the season comes back and we see more of it. Now, in terms of Shane, is there any hope for him to find some love in season three? Can you tease anything for when the show returns?
WILLETT: You know, it’s funny because after the whole epic failure with dudes, he is having a hard time kind of liking himself and I think he starts off season three kind of abstinent in a way—kind of swearing off boys for a while, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some love in season three because there definitely is [laughs].
MM: Right? But now, since your single “Started Over” kind of embodies that ‘fresh start’ attitude, is there anything this year that you’re excited to tackle or looking forward to?
WILLETT: Absolutely. Speaking of my music and “Started Over,”—“Started Over” is a piece of a larger of collection of songs that I’ve created. It’s about six years in the making and I’m finally going to release it in 2016, so I’m very excited.
MM: That’s so exciting we can’t wait. Why are you drawn to new beginnings? What would your advice be to someone who is bogged down and kind of wants to start over, so to speak?
WILLETT: Right. I think that people—I don’t know what it is, but, it seems like…it’s more comfortable for people to think that things stay the same. But the reality is that it doesn’t. I change my mind constantly and I feel like I’m constantly starting over. That’s something that I am very unapologetic about and that’s what starting over is to me—an unapologetic acceptance of changing and I’m not sorry about it. I change my mind, I don’t know what else to say [laughs]. It’s necessary; it’s a part of life.
MM: Definitely. I think people get bogged down with having to start new or thinking that they have to stay one way to keep people around, but I think it’s good to reinvent yourself and start in a different box, or whatever you want to call it.
WILLETT: Yeah, it’s constant evolution and that’s really what the album is about is my own personal evolution.
MM: Ooh, that’ll be exciting. You’re doing a lot of things. You recently had some artwork featured in L.A. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and what drew you to the art and fashion industry?
WILLETT: Yeah, thank you for asking me about it because I haven’t gotten to talk about it very much at all. My friend has a fashion showroom where she rents out pieces and she wanted to incorporate art into the showroom so she had me do whatever I wanted essentially and I got several walls. I did some painting and some stenciling and different things and it sort of became this performance art where I was interacting with the audience and they created the piece with me. That was something that I really wanted because, again, it was this idea that things are only momentary and they’re ever-changing. I wanted these people to experience something that could only happen right now. You can take a picture of it and you can try to make it last longer, but basically whatever happens right here is what we’re going to be making together. I think that’s something I want to do more of. I just want to dabble in a lot of different mediums and a lot of different art forms so it makes me feel more comfortable than just being an actor or singer or this or that.
MM: Of course, you want to dip your toes in a bunch of things and why shouldn’t you? I think if you have a passion you should go for it. How would you describe your fashion style?
WILLETT: These days, it’s very sort of cyberspacey, intergalactic and it’s probably because of my album in a lot of ways. It’s very—what’s the word—astral? I also think after the recent release of Star Wars, I feel like I’ve been acting like a Star Wars character. So, that’s where I’m at, but it’s also very colorful. I like this designer called Bernhard Willhelm and he’s very colorful and he’s sort of a big inspiration.
MM: And now, what would you say is your favorite article of clothing? Do you have one piece you just can’t live without?
WILLETT: I think the thing I wear the most is just black military boots. That can survive any situation, any weather, any outfit. That’s always the thing I wear the most. Also, everybody’s been wearing joggers and sweats lately and I’m totally on board with the elastic waistband.
MM: [laughs] So, to conclude, is there anything else you can tell us about coming up or are you just stoked for people to finally hear your music and for Faking It to return.
MICAHEL: I’ll be creating constantly. I just want to be creating something all of the time so expect more.
MM: Can we expect some music videos to go along with these singles that you’re going to be releasing?
WILLETT: Yes, I definitely have some plans to do some videos. It’s been way too long.
MM: Well, we’re looking forward to everything that’s coming up and thank you so much for chatting with me.
Faking It airs Tuesdays at 10:30|9:30c on MTV