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  Entertainment   In Other News  14 Nov 2016  Drama, Romance and Murder

Drama, Romance and Murder

THE ASIAN AGE | KAAVYA PILLAI
Published : Nov 14, 2016, 12:24 am IST
Updated : Nov 14, 2016, 12:24 am IST

Conrad Ricamora speaks about playing Oliver on How To Get Away With Murder and more.

Still from the show
 Still from the show

Conrad Ricamora’s role as Oliver Hampton on How to Get Away with Murder has struck a chord with people around the world. Not only is there a lot of drama and romance, but also the addressal of issues rarely spoken about on television. Conrad talks to DC about the evolution of Oliver and more.

“I didn’t start acting until much later in life,” he begins, adding “I grew up in the conservative part of the US, where men weren’t encouraged to dabble in arts. I didn’t get exposed to the arts till I went to university. I took an acting class then, and fell in love with it. I found this monologue from a play that mirrored my childhood experience and I was hooked ever since then.”

Conrad originally auditioned for the role of Wes Gibbins, but eventually landed the role of Oliver, a one-time role that blossomed into a full-fledged character. He gushes about the show, “As an actor, when you’re just starting out, you pick everything you get. I’m so thankful for the show and that there are people like Pete Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis behind it. I’ve followed Viola’s work since she starred in Doubt with Meryl Streep. I’ve always just been in awe of her talent.”

Talking about the role he plays and how Oliver has grown over the seasons, he explains, “He started out pretty shy and didn’t have a lot of confidence. Then he met Connor, and was asked to hack a lot of sensitive material and to do a lot of high profile work than he has ever done. All those things have combined to push him to be a more confident person. He’s still on that journey to discover who he is.” Speaking of Connor and Oliver’s relationship that began as a fling, he delves into what’s in store for them. “It’s evolving. I think Oliver will want a lot more answers, he wants to be in a very honest relationship. Connor’s obviously holding himself back and keeping a big secret  — that might challenge them in the future. There’s so much darkness surrounding that group and Oliver is so innocent. It’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds,” he answers.

Conrad also relates to his character on the show. “Everybody tells me I’m a nice guy (laughs). I also relate to him in the sense that I think he’s searching for someone he can connect to. He’s searching for love. As cheesy as it sounds, I relate to that.”

Oliver being one of the very few gay characters on television to be HIV positive, Conrad shares reactions that he received from the LGBTQI, “The feedback I’ve got from the community has been great. They think we’re doing it very realistically, because HIV is no longer a death sentence for people who have access to medicine. It’s being treated very differently from the past. People are more educated now. We’re navigating on how it is for an HIV-positive person to be dating.”

“Being Asian-American, the representation is very important. It’s changing so positively. I love how Shonda Rhimes includes people who look like the entire world, and doesn’t whitewash it. My character is not about his Asian-ness — he just gets to exist and I think that’s what people of colour want — to be represented,” he says, talking about representation onscreen.

Recently, the actor also spoke out about his kissing scene on the show being censored in the Philippines, “It’s very personal to me, I’m a gay man and growing up, I had no representation. If you’re going to cut gay sex scenes, why not cut out straight sex scenes? If there’s going to be censorship, it should be equal across the board. Later, of course the network changed its decision. It was one of the few times when I found Twitter to be useful.”

(The show airs on Star World and Star World HD every Saturday at 9 pm)

Tags: star world, oliver hampton, conrad ricamora