With 'Hack's' Back for Season Two, Johnny Sibilly Talks Queer Representation

Monday May 30, 2022
Originally published on May 12, 2022

Johnny Sibilly
Johnny Sibilly  (Source:Instagram)

HBO Max's "Hacks" is easily one of television's most queer-friendly shows. While star Jean Smart's character, stand-up legend Deborah Vance, is straight and divorced, virtually everyone in her orbit is gay. Deborah's writing assistant Ava Daniels, played by Hannah Einbinder, is bisexual; Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins), Deborah's advisor, is gay, and is in a relationship with Wilson, a water maintenance man, played by Johnny Sibilly. Plus there's Damien (Mark Indelicato), Deborah's gay personal assistant, and queer actors Poppy Liu and Megan Stalter in the cast. No wonder the show has been labeled Jean Smart and her queer family.

The show has helped increase the visibility of Sibilly, whose character hit it off with Marcus and began an odd couple relationship that continues in Season Two, which begins this week on HBO Max. After the show began to air, he was cast in the reboot of "Queer as Folk," adding another queer character to his resume.

If Sibilly has his way, he will only play queer characters moving forward. "For me, I always say if I never played a straight character ever again, I would be perfectly fine with that — just because there's so many queer stories that haven't been told that I am dying to tell. It would be an honor to only play queer characters forever," he said in an interview with Out Magazine.

By this, Sibilly just doesn't mean a queer appearance. "Being queer doesn't mean you have to throw on a lash and some mascara — which, to be honest, is more fun. But it is that exploration of breaking down those old habits of censoring yourself in order to be considered more acceptable by society," he says. "And after I started just putting my art out in the ways that had always been special to me, I was really able to be like, Oh, there's no going back for me. This is what works for me, and this is what works for my art."

On "Hacks," Sibilly has great sexual chemistry with Clemons-Hopkins, except that Marcus is too career-driven to let Wilson into his life, which leads to some tension. (That the relationship is also interracial adds another dimension.)

"A lot of times you meet a lot of queer men and ... we're very work-driven and we want to prove to the world that we deserve to take up space in whatever career we're doing," he says
"So for me, Marcus embodies that queer excellence from a very early start. And then Wilson comes in and challenges the idea that we are only as important as our work and what we put out into the world ... like, no, we can go out and see the world, and we can do rock climbing and put on toe shoes. For me, I'm not a Wilson. I'm more of a Marcus."

Johnny Sibilly and Carl Clemons-Hopkins on "Hacks"
Johnny Sibilly and Carl Clemons-Hopkins on "Hacks"  (Source: HBO Max)

Sibilly sees himself so Marcus-like that he found himself in the odd space of relaxing after "Hacks" wrapped last year. "Right after we wrapped last March for season 1, I went on a trip to New York and I thought to myself ... Wow, for so long, I've been chasing this dream, and I've forgotten what it is that I enjoy outside of chasing this dream. What makes Johnny happy?"

He found the answer hanging with friends and going to the beach.

He also described his experience on "Hacks" as a "learning experience" and finds the closeness he has with his cast members as something very special. "It's just so much love because in this industry, sometimes you hear about horror stories of casts not liking each other, but it's just so easy with them, and it's like every time we see each other, it's like seeing family."

Check out these pics from Sibilly's IG: