Days of Our Lives has been entertaining daytime audiences for 45 years, making it one of the longest running soap operas. While the show has always been popular and covered some crazy plot lines, for a long time it was missing one key aspect: GLBT representation. Until June of 2011, that is, when the show introduced “Sonny Kiriakas,” a gay and proudly out college boy to the fictional town of Salem. Freddie Smith, a 24-year-old Ashtabula, Ohio native, plays Sonny.
Freddie said he was curious to see what the response to this character would be, but he said all the feedback from fans has been positive thus far.
“It’s a part of life and its important to show this part of life,” said Freddie. “I think it was the right thing to do; it’s a step forward. It’s including romance for straight and gay people. The character they have created is so colorful and three-dimensional. He’s such an interesting character.”
Freddie said he often gets asked how he prepared for this role, but he said there is no difference in playing characters with different sexual orientation. He is portraying love either way.
“My preparation was taking the past experience I have had and applying them to the show,” said Freddie.
The character of Sonny showed up to Salem very confident, but in an upcoming plot twist, he becomes a victim of bullying because his attacker, “T,” believes Sonny made Will, another young character on the show, gay.
“It’s very emotional to be bullied. When you go through it it’s a big part of your life,” said Freddie. “I’m hoping I can make an impact and show how bullying negatively affects people and make a difference. I think that everyone will be able to relate to this storyline, so it is important to the show.”
He said that viewers are going to see a different side of Sonny after he experiences being bullied. Freddie mentions that before Sonny came to Salem, he had much tougher time being openly gay. “It brings him back – he thought he was home free. Its disappointing to him,” said Freddie. “He was very bullet proof at first. You’re going to see that he does have flaws. You’re going to see Sonny make mistakes and deal with those mistakes.”
Will struggles with coming on out the show, something viewers didn’t get to experience with Sonny. Freddie said he liked they brought on the second gay storyline to the show, having one character that is extremely comfortable being gay and another that is dealing with the emotional experience of coming out.
“It showed that it’s great to have a support system. It made it easier for him to come out,” said Freddie. “It was a great idea that the show did.”
In July, Freddie spoke to congress during the Children Uniting Nation’s (CUN) seventh annual national conference titled, “Keeping the Promise to Our Children.” He encouraged legislation to be passed on bullying and the importance of keeping physical education in schools.
“I wanted to let people know that parents need to get involved at an early age. They need to understand that it isn’t just funny, it has a negative affect on people later in life,” said Freddie. “It was nice to be around a group of people who are trying to make a difference. It was an amazing experience – I was honored to even be asked to go.”
Freddie said he likes that his roles allow him to also act as a humanitarian and have a voice on political topics. Before playing Sonny, Freddie played the role of Marco on 90210, another openly gay high school student.
“This is a huge topic in society right now. For me, playing these characters, I have more of a platform to speak up,” said Freddie. “I’m very honored I can play roles like this and make a difference.”
Photos courtesy of Days of Our Lives.