Roy Joseph Isn't Playing The Token Anything
The newcomer opened up about playing Harry in the new series 'Five Bedrooms'.
Speaking to 10 daily ahead of the 'Five Bedrooms' premiere, Roy Joseph admitted being the new kid on the block he didn't think he would get the role.
"I'm still fresh so I turn up to an audition an hour early so I can sit down and breathe and not be f**king nervous," he said. "I was perfect for the character but I was about 14 years too young, I was like this is never going to happen!"
Thankfully it did, with the 26-year-old rounding out the ensemble cast of 'Five Bedrooms' as Harry. The role marks his first major tv role after also appearing in ABC's 'Back in Very Small Business' as part of the supporting cast.
READ MORE: Meet The Housemates Of 'Five Bedrooms'
Having grown up in Perth, Joseph studied entertainment business in Melbourne with the dream to one day manage bands. After tracking down an artist manager on Facebook, he interned for a year.
"It was really fun but I didn't have the drive for it," Joseph admitted, "Writing a press release was always the most stressful thing I had to do, I would just be like, 'I don't know what I'm doing'. I'd be writing something for an artist I had never met and would feel bad I might be selling them poorly!"
At the same time, he was auditioning for drama schools and would ultimately train at WAAPA. Graduating at the end of 2017, Joseph nabbed the part on 'Back in Very Small Business' the week after graduating.
With the launch of 'Five Bedrooms', Joseph keenly described his newest role and the tricky situation both he and his character find themselves in.
"What we know about [Harry] early on is that he's gay, and he lives with his mother," he said. "His mum is a very classic, traditional Indian woman who wants him to marry an Indian girl and give her grandchildren. Really simple, that's all she wants.
"He's already a doctor, he's earning like six figures -- so she says -- he's got his own office, a head surgeon at 30! Harry's already ticking so many boxes, but a family and kids are next in her mind and that's not going to happen the way she sees it."
It might sound like the familiar trope but this isn't your usual "coming out" storyline that's become well-trodden in TV dramas. This isn't a coming out story at all, Harry is already well-established in his life and is out to everyone in his life, he just hasn't found the right way to tell his mum.
"It's more a story of him finding autonomy in his life and taking charge of who he is, living to the fullest and in the most honest way you can," he said.
"I've had friends say, 'You're playing the token gay character?', I'm not actually playing the token anything," Joseph said, "You could argue I'm also playing the 'token ethnic character' but f**k off. I'm playing a person."
"You can look at it and put that on it, but that's not what's happening."
Joseph's most difficult job in 'Five Bedrooms' is the fact that Kumud Merani, who plays his mother Manju, is an absolute scene-stealer every time she appears onscreen.
One of India's first female TV news presenters, SBS World News' first female anchor of Asian background and a multi-award winning journalist, executive producer and now iconic TV mum.
"Harry's father died when he was maybe like 19," Joseph explained, "so we're talking about 10 years ago. She's alone and Harry is the only person she has. It's not about him being able to accept that he's gay but not knowing how to tell his mum knowing that it could essentially destroy her."
"For a lot of immigrant parents, they moved to another country like Australia and, for a lot of them, it's about giving their child the best life they can," he said.
"Usually that would include all the things we're taught in school and see in a lot of TV shows of what a good and happy life is. I think it's hard when your child is going to stray from that."
For Joseph, sitting next to castmates Doris Younane and Katie Robertson, he set his goals for the future: "I want to win an Oscar."
"Maybe a Logie, mate," Younane quickly responded, "Not an Oscar for 'Five Bedrooms'."
"I've just started my career," Joseph said, "I'm talking ahead!"