Ohio native Freddie Smith turned to acting when he broke his hand in high school. A lifelong basketball and baseball player, he swiftly changed tacks by getting a job at McDonald’s and working for a year so that he’d be able to save up enough to move to Los Angeles. That, coupled with the fact that he drove cross-country to his new home, makes it no surprise that Smith found his big break on 90210 by playing Marco, the sweet, genuine new boyfriend to recently-outed Teddy (Trevor Donovan).
You may have also seen Smith in the latest print ads for the NOH8 campaign. “A role like [Marco] gives me the opportunity to do other things,” he said, “standing up for what I believe in. I think it’s a phenomenal thing that they’re doing; it’s great to be a part of it.” We chatted with Smith about prom, graduation, and playing a queer character on television.
Tonight’s episode “The Prom Before the Storm” looks like a pretty intense time at West Bev. What can you tell us about shooting the episode, and since it’s a TV prom and has to be over-the-top, how did it compare with your real prom?
Freddie Smith: It’s like a Vegas nightclub, basically. It’s just huge. The set they built was amazing, and it has dancers and tons and tons of people. My prom was also very wonderful, but it’s also a smaller [school]. My graduating class was 135 kids, so that’s the difference. We had a banquet hall, and this one is at the equivalent of a Vegas club. It was just huge.
Marco and Teddy are dating exclusively, and their friends accept the relationship. But with the two of them going to prom together, does that raise any controversy at the school?
Smith: It really doesn’t. I feel that with Teddy’s character he had the problem of when he first came out, a lot of his friends weren’t cool with it. But then I come in as Marco after the friends are already accepting of it, so with us going to prom, everyone was just accepting. We’re all hanging out and having a good time.
How do you feel playing a queer character on television? Because we’re still in need of a lot of postiive role models, do you feel extra pressure than, say, if you were playing a striaght character?
Smith: I don’t really feel any added pressure. I think it’s a wonderful role to be able to take, so I can shed some light on what’s going on in society and be able to stand up and send a message of, “Be who you want to be.” Marco’s a very confident character; he’s proud and confident, he knows who he is.