The festival scene

Actor Michael J. Willett to film fans: I’m your gay best friend

Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff

Movie and TV actor Michael J. Willett launched his career at 13 singing My Girl in a Little Debbie commercial.

“When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was find an excuse to be in front of people,” says Willett, star of G.B.F. ( Gay Best Friend), which on Thursday opens the Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Willett, now 24, will attend the G.B.F. screening and mix with filmgoers at a party afterward.

Performing has made Willett a more extroverted person.

“When I was younger I was more uncomfortable with that side of myself, being outgoing and talkative,” he says. “I realized along the way that was how you get people to know you. I’ve grown to be a more open person.”

Willett, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., did commercials and theater until his mid teens, then took time off from acting to concentrate on his education.

“How could I play high school characters if I didn’t go to high school?” says Willett, who studied graphic design and film editing.

After graduation at 18, Willett returned to acting. He began his TV career in 2004 with a role in CBS’ Joan of Arcadia. Six years later, he became known as bleached-blond Lionel in the Showtime series United States of Tara.

The actor recently wrapped a debut music album, Diapason. “It’s a musical term for a full, rich, melodious outpouring of sound,” he says. “That is exactly how I describe what I do.”

Willett says he’s never been in the closet, that since childhood everyone “always just knew” he is gay.

In G.B.F. he plays Tanner, “somebody I could relate to in high school.”

The premise: Tanner comes out to friends and family, sparking a female frenzy among trendy classmates who want him for their G.B.F. First, however, the girls decide to give Tanner a fashion makeover.

Willett likes this twist.

“Not every gay person has an affinity for fashion or hairstyle or musical theater,” says Willett, who believes that Tanner “is a kind of person who is not being represented” in films and television. “We can’t all be Bravo stereotypes.”


The FLGLF runs Thursday- Sunday at the Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Visit for a complete schedule.

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • The style scene

    Lauren Conrad does cocktails in Miami

    Lauren Conrad’s new craze is fresh mint.

  • Celebrity roundup

    Amber Valletta comes clean: I’m a raging addict

    Amber Valletta isn’t playing the blame game. The model-actress (Hitch, Revenge, Transporter 2) talked candidly in a video for and takes full responsibility for her addiction to drugs and alcohol. In the clip, Valletta says she started young, sniffing markers while growing up in Oklahoma, then graduated to the hard stuff when she began posing for magazines. Even though she has been sober for 25 years, the self proclaimed raging addict still has moments when she wants to “distract herself” because she’s “uncomfortable being a human being.” The 40-year-old mother of one, who is married to volleyball player Chip McCaw, credits looking inward constantly to stay healthy.

  • Scene in the Tropics

    Cameron Diaz checks out Porfirio’s, Gisele strikes a pose

    Cameron Diaz was spotted dining with friends Monday night at the new South of Fifth Mexican restaurant, Porfirio’s. The group of five, not including rumored beau Benji Madden, enjoyed spicy Mexican fare and sipped on Mezcal drinks during dinner. Diaz, our spy said, was in good spirits, gushing about her new relationship.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category