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‘Noah’s Arc’ star @darrylstephens pens new book — and it’s worth reading.
Darryl Stephens is a man of many talents and his repertoire is ever expanding. His latest undertaking comes in the form of informal life coach through a new book titled Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good. A departure from his first novel, Shortcomings, Required Reading showcases some of Stephens’ most astute advice backed by personal stories that prove the Hollywood veteran knows what he’s talking about.
Stephens, 41, says the new book emerged from fans repeatedly reaching out to him for counsel on various topics.
“The intention was to answer questions that people were asking me on social media,” he explains to MOSWN.com. “But I found in order to communicate the lessons I had learned, I had to share them within the context of my own experience. In that way [the book] is sort of a motivational memoir.”
“All of us should be working toward being our most authentic selves and allowing each other to [do the same].”
Part advice to enduring fans and part insight into what it’s like to be a gay black man in Hollywood, Required Reading ultimately aims to restore a sense of self-worth. Stephens hopes that through his personal accounts readers will be inspired to circumvent the same mistakes he’s made.
“I want to help people, and I want to help them lead more authentic lives,” Stephens says. “There’s nothing wrong with being exactly who you are. All of us should be working toward being our most authentic selves and allowing each other to [do the same]. With all of the Black Lives Matter and marriage equality talk in the news right now, it’s important for black gay folks, and people who know and love black gay folks, to really have some sort of context for how to proceed personally in the midst of all this political shifting. That’s the intention of the book.”
For many of the lucky readers who’ve already gotten their hands on a copy, the advice dispersed throughout Required Reading has hit home. Stephens says he’s received nothing but positive feedback.
“What I’m hearing most is that people can relate to the stories,” he says. “And it’s not only black gay men but it’s women too. A number of women have shared with me that they have also had the same experiences with dating apps, or whatever issue I’m touching on in the book, so it’s been great.”
Stephens is happy about that for more than one reason.
In an age where seemingly less and less people are devoting their leisure time to reading, the California native says it’s refreshing to see people pick up a book.
“There are so many stories right now that are illuminating our experience in really profound ways,” he says. “For example, look at Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ book, Between the World and Me. These types of issues are what we need to be focusing on, and one of the ways to really hone that type of focus is to get invested in books. Reading is a great way to take yourself out of your world, learn about somebody else’s world, and open your eyes to an experience you may not be necessarily privy to.”
Though Stephens enjoys writing and plans to do more in the future — a follow-up to Shortcomings is currently in the works for 2016 — acting remains his first love.
As an actor Stephens’ credits date back to the early 2000s with him appearing in several television shows including network hits like Ugly Betty, Private Practice, DTLA, 2 Broke Girls, and most recently Survivor’s Remorse. He’s also been seen in big screen features such as Boy Culture, Beyond the Lights, and the upcoming Doug Spearman film, From Zero to I Love You. Stephens, who is perhaps most known for his iconic role in the groundbreaking series Noah’s Arc, points out that after nearly 15 years in the industry, sufficient media representation for LGBT people of color still lags behind. However, he praises current shows like Empire for bringing viewers a rounded perspective on the unique experiences of those in the community.
“It’s really fantastic that Lee Daniels and the creators of Empire, as well as Shonda Rhimes and the people behind How to Get Away with Murder, are including these stories,” he says. “I think it’s exciting that these high profile shows are touching on this subject with main characters that are pivotal to the storyline. We’re really getting to see how America deals with this. What was great about Noah’s Arc was that it was speaking to a specific audience, and that audience was really starving to see themselves represented. I think what’s great about Empire and these other shows is that they’re taking that moment and taking the next step. Black gay kids got to see themselves loving other black gay folks on Noah’s Arc. Now we can see what happens when a dad is not cool with it, or when her ex-girlfriend is a white woman from college.”
‘Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good’ is available online and in bookstores around the country. Get your copy today!
by Deon Newsom
* Photos by Stephanie Vovas and Dexter Brown
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