The Queens Project, an LGBT-themed web series chronicling the misadventures best friends Ash and Gabe and their group of friends in New York City, is quickly racking up thousands of views on YouTube. The first episode alone has amassed over five thousand views! Rolling out new episodes each week, The Queens Project is unfolding into a comedic gem.
Trey Gerrald, a series regular on The Queens Project, appears for the first time in episode four. After guest appearances in popular series such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange Is the New Black, You’re the Worst, Next Caller, and Deadbeat, he joined the group at “It Gets Funnier,” the LGBT comedy network for viewing, sharing, and delivering original comedic content written/or performed by gay artists.
Gerrald took some time to speak with Out about what it was like to shoot The Queens Project, the creative liberties involved in making a webseries, and just which role from Meryl Streep’s canon he truly covets.
Out: What drew you to The Queens Project?
Trey Gerrald: Ken Arpino is a friend of mine and I think he’s hilarious. I like his sensibility. He sent me a few scripts and they were really funny. I trusted him and said, let’s do it. I know the mission of It Gets Funnier, as a platform for gay artists, so I thought I definitely want to be involved with that.
Have you worked with Ken Arpino or anybody from It Gets Funnier before The Queens Project?
I knew Ken from working on the Hairspray national tour while I was working on The Drowsy Chaperone tour. He also went to college with one of my best friends. I never worked with him, but we ran in similar circles. I knew of BJ and Tim and was, like, obsessed with them. Shooting with all of them — all of these crazy improv actors just being idiots — was just a joyful experience, even though I hadn’t worked with anyone before, but knew of everyone there that day.
What advantages are there in acting in a web series as opposed to a film or TV series?
As we filmed, I really became aware that this was so kick ass. I think there are people like Lena Dunham, who blew up pop culture wise for creating content and being masters of their own content, and that’s not a new idea. It’s seemingly a new idea, but it’s actually not. Like, Gene Kelly choreographed any dance he ever did in Hollywood. I feel like artists have to be in charge of their own work. So, you get the ability to do that. There’s more ownership and less hurdles when you’re doing a web series of your own content. There’s a real sense of creative control and ownership.
How much is scripted and how much is improvised in The Queens Project?
It’s usually a balanced mix. Ken has written all of the episodes and he said to use the scripts as blueprints. From the get go, he said let’s all find funny leads and work through them. I’d say episode four is more improvised than episode five, but it’s generally pretty even.
When did you know you had made it as an actor?
There isn’t making it. I still don’t even know. I feel like you always want more. It’s just human nature to keep striving. After you shoot a couple of episodes, you think, I want to do a sitcom, but then only get one line. I want do more than one sentence, and then you’re a guest on the series. But it’s the nature of striving for more. I don’t feel like I’ve made it. But, with that said, I’m very happy. I’m working on more things. I feel happy, but I still want more. You just get to be silly with like-minded people, and it’s so much fun. What do I need next? What’s bigger? Just to be silly and funny, that’s the best.
Would you say you’re more drawn to: acting in a TV series or films?
I’ve definitely done more TV than I’ve done film. I love how in TV you have a week to shoot 60 pages, and then you move on to the next episode. It’s the same with the webseries. You have a character and they keep getting into different circumstances. But Weiner-Dog is the biggest film I’ve done. I can’t really speak to what working in film is really like. But I love the TV medium, especially now that all these actors want to do TV. I love TV, but I want to do more film some day.
If you could be on any series that you love, what would you kill to be on?
Pretty Little Liars! I literally mailed a hard copy head shot, resume, and cover letter to their casting office in L.A. because I heard there’s going to be gay male character in the next season, and there’s never been a gay male character in all six seasons. Pretty Little Liars, hands down.
What made you chose to take a part in your upcoming film Weiner-Dog, which is due out next year?
Todd Solondz is such a genius and has such a unique and specific point of view. He was so involved in every minute aspect, and that was thrilling. I had two auditions and he was in the room both times. He’s just so involved and passionate.
OK, so lets say you can get into a time machine, travel back in time, and take one of Meryl Streep’s roles away from her so you can act it instead. Which role do you take?
Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her. I was so obsessed with that as a kid.
The Emmys are this weekend. Who are you rooting for?
Tituss Burgess. We’re friends and I knew him before working on Kimmy Schmidt together where I played his boyfriend. It’s just so exciting, and a huge deal.
Now, bonus question: What is your spirit animal?
How about a friendly round of Fuck, Marry, Kill. Your options are: Tituss Burgess, Brandon Mychal Smith, Tim Murray.
I’ll kill Tim because he’s too funny, fuck Brandon, and marry Tituss.
The new episode of The Queens Project debuts next week, with guest star Noam Ash, from the popular YouTube series My Gay Roommate.