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    ***EXCLUSIVE O1LT.COM/CLIK MAGAZINE INTERVIEW-PATRIK IAN-POLK***

    Who is Patrik-Ian Polk?

    Written by L.T. Dinwiddie

    It’s the show that has been creating a steady buzz in the African American Gay community on the newly launched network Logo. With the success of the first season, Noah’ Arc has returned to answer all the questions, which left everyone on the edge of their seats after an emotional and explosive season finale. So, who is behind this first all gay Black scripted television series? Recently, I got the opportunity to sit down and talk to Patrik-Ian Polk. The reclusive and reserved Director took time out of his busy day to reflect, engage, and share the wild ride this year has been. Our conversation was interesting, candid and honest. Who is Patrick Ian Polk, you’re about to find out.

    Patrik-Ian Polk was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on July 29th 1973. “I always knew I wanted to be involved in film”, Patrick says as he reflects on his childhood. At a young age he was always fascinated with television and reading. “Growing up in rural Mississippi there weren’t a lot of resources related to the film industry” Patrik explained, but he didn’t let that stop him from going after his passion. At the time, being an only child (he now has a baby brother), his parents were very supportive as he pursued his dreams to become a film maker. Patrick attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts and graduated film school at the prestigious University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, where he wrote and directed a number of short films. When I asked him how his parents felt about his success, he replied very humbly, “its localized success. Logo is a very small network, and its expanding slowly, but they are proud and excited for me”.

    Patrik isn’t a rookie when it comes to visual creation and the entertainment industry. He was a producer's assistant at Amblin Entertainment, a development executive at MTV Films. Patrik also held a position as the vice president of production and development for e2 Filmworks and has contributed to a number of Edmond Entertainment projects, like Soul Food and Have Plenty. Patrik decided to pave his own way by establishing his own production company-Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions. Soon there after, he wrote, produced, and directed his first successful independent film Punks. After receiving critical acclaim for this film, Patrik set his goals even higher by writing, producing, and directing ‘Noah’s Arc’.

    The idea of Noah’s Arc came to Patrik at a local gay event in California in 2003. Patrik was attending an event called “Boy Trade”, and a group of guys caught his attention. Patrik recalls, “I was struck with the notion that this was a group that didn’t have any programming developed for them. That’s when it hit me. I was going to do a show and it was going to be about black gay men.” Originally Patrik called the show “Hot Chocolate”, but he knew that wouldn’t work. So he thought about the name for his show long and hard; trying to come up with a name that was elegant. “Noah was on a very short list of possible names. I wanted something elegant, something that rolls off the tongue, that’s why I went with Noah!” Because Noah is a screenwriter, a common term in screenwriting is the “story arc”, or “character arc” which is where acharacter goes, or a story goes from beginning to end. Since he was a writer that popped in my head”, but “A-R-C.”, not “A-R-K”, it’s sort of a play on Noah’s Ark, but has no biblical significance to the show. It’s all about Noah’s story arc, and if you also notice his three friends are Alex, Ricky, and Chance, so they complete the arc.”

    Hate it or Love it, Noah’s Arc has been rolling off the tongues of fans since its debut a year ago on the brand new all gay programming network Logo. It seems with the series finale of Queer as Folk, Noah’s Arc couldn’t have come a better time. As society becomes more and more comfortable with gay themed programming, especially with the popularity of gay shows like Will and Grace, The “L” Word, and Queer as Folk, it seems Logo picked the best time in programming to debut a show that caters to the black gay community. Noah’s Arc has gained tremendous momentum over the past year and it’s well deserved. With this being the first African-American gay series, it’s giving the community a voice. It’s telling networks, advertisers, and society that there is demand for shows like this and more shows like this. Patrik and Logo have been successful in capitalizing on the demand for fresh, new African American gay programming.

    If you don’t have Logo, have been spending to much time in the gym, or still have dial-up internet service and can’t watch the online clips provided by http://logoonline.com, Noah’s arc is about Noah Nicholson(Darryl Stephens), a struggling screenwriter embarking on a new love affair with newly out and much more successful screenwriter, Wade(Jenson Atwood). His friends include Alex Kirby(Rodney Chester), an HIV/AIDS counselor who is the matriarch of the group and is struggling to keep his seven-year relationship with his anesthesiologist boyfriend Trey(George Keith) intact; Ricky Davis(Christian Vincent), the owner of a trendy clothing store and the playboy of the group; and Chance Counter(Douglas Spearman), a recently married college professor who was skeptical about moving into a new home with his partner Eddie(Jonathan Julian) and his three year old daughter. The four men live in the fabulous city of Los Angeles and try to survive the pressures of dating, relationships and often friendships.

    Season two of Noah’s Arc is expected to be more exciting than its predecessor. Patrik has added new cast members to its roster. With guest appearances from Rockman Dunbar (Prison Break), Victoria Powell (The Young and the Restless), former B2K member “Raz B”, and Keith Hamilton Cobb (The Young and the Restless) making there Logo debut, it’s a positive reflection of the show when you add higher profile actors to the roster “Once something gets going and people can see that it has a profile, and it’s not just this big unknown it’s always easier the more popular a show becomes”, says Patrik. This season’s Noah’s Arc is also being moved to Vancouver Canada. Last season was shot in Los Angeles, but with rising production costs, Patrick and Logo decided to move the show to Vancouver, “For a show like ours that is on a smaller network, and doesn’t have a big budget that shows like “Sex in the City”, and “ER” have, there was a big concern so we had to move the show up to Canada to keep it going so that we could afford to do more.” explained Patrik.

    The four main characters Noah, Alex, Chance and Ricky are somewhat effeminate and some feel that they don’t accurately reflect the majority of black gay men in America. Although ere are masculine portrayals such as Wade, Eddie and Trent, the masculine to feminine ratio doesn’t appear to be balanced. “I didn’t have an agenda when casting”, Patrik replied. “It’s a part of our community. We have feminine guys and we have masculine guys, and everything in between. As long as the characters are fully realized, well-rounded, and are real people, then the level of femininity and masculinity doesn’t really matter. We’re in a very weird place when it comes to that whole issue of masculinity versus femininity and I think its bullshit. When you think about all gay characters on TV, what we see more often than not are these hyper-masculine gay characters that if they didn’t tell us they were gay you wouldn’t really know . There are no other indications. From the Black guy on Six Feet Under (Matthew St. Patrick), the trend has been to have overly-masculine portrayals. The reality is that I put this show together completely independently, without major network support, and without a lot of money”, he adds. Many view his success as just the luck of the draw.

    There is a perception that being a person of color in Hollywood can prove to be difficult, and even more if your gay and of color, but Patrik disagrees, and dismisses that notion. “Its not necessarily hard being black or gay, it’s hard being in Hollywood in general. It’s incredibly competitive. You’ve got lots of people fighting for very few jobs. If anything gay people are embraced in Hollywood, being a black gay show in fact helped us secure a spot on Logo because Noah’s Arc is something different from “Queer As Folk” its unique. The problem is it just depends on what your project is. It’s all about the scope of your project. Your skin color can be green; it’s all about your project. Sexuality and color doesn’t matter. If someone in Hollywood see’s value, and a potential audience from what you’re pitching, then they will buy it. Married with Children was created by a black man. Hollywood doesn’t care if you’re black; they just care if it’s a good TV”

    In the midst of all the success of Noah’s Arc, and previous cult classic Punks Patrik-Ian Polk is humbled. There was no ego, or attitude through out our conversation. If anything he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. I wanted to know what it felt like for him to watch his show on national television live for the first time, and he said “I enjoyed the idea that, wow I’m watching a show that other people are watching at the same time that I’m watching it!!” But one thing that he doesn’t do is watch it with the cast: “Actors and performers entire focus is on them. “How did I look?”, “Did I turn my head right”, “I know my nose was too big in that shot” they’re way to self conscious, so I don’t watch it with them anymore". But he admits “it feels good!!” Patrik isn’t just limiting himself to television. With the second season for Noah’s Arc nearly completed, he is also working on a new feature film called “Black Birds”. He’s pretty mum on the project when I inquired, but did say, “It’s a high school movie that has a gay element to it.” He has written a special part for ultimate 1960’s diva Diana Ross, and he is currently in negotiations with her and hopes she comes on board.

    Patrik is extremely open when it comes to his work, his successful series, and anything else work related, but when our conversation shifted to his love life there wasn’t much he was willing to share. When I inquired about whom is keeping his late night attention, he casually mention that he has a boyfriend, who is an actor, but quickly, and jokingly followed it up with a “and that’s all your going to get!!”Patrik did express however that “Having a long distance relationship can be difficult.”

    With homes in California and London, Noah’s Arc has proven to be a steady success and Patrik obviously isn’t hurting for money. Despite the fact that he sold the rights to Noah to Logo, he still owns a percentage which gives him leverage, and creative freedom to take Noah’ Arc in the direction he feels it should go. The one thing that makes this show such a hit with fans is that it’s relatable. Black or White, masculine of feminine we all know characters like the ones played by Darryl Stephenson, Douglas, Spearman, Christian Vincent, and Rodney Carter. Though some feel the certain scenes are over acted, Noah’s Arc is no different than any other new series on bigger networks. As the show is given a chance and grows, it will get better, and better. “The reality is that I put this show together completely independently without major network support, and without a lot of money. It’s a gay series so obviously we aren’t going to be able to go out and get Denzel Washington, and people like that to perform in this show. We used a lot of newer actors, without a lot of acting experience. But I also think that’s a part of the appeal of the show that gives it a fresh feeling for me, and makes it a less Hollywood flick feeling. I think the guys did a great job in season one and I think they are improving and have done a better job in season two. You’re always going to get criticized. You’re never going to be able to satisfy everyone who watches the show. Every show isn’t for every person, but I think that the overwhelming emails and letters that I get have been incredibly positive.”

    Logo isn’t offered to everybody just yet, but it can still be seen in over 20 million homes, and is supported by 50 top-tier advertisers. Everyone who tunes in to watch Noah’s Arc gets the opportunity to see gay love, life, and all the drama through the eyes of African American characters that are relatable, identifiable and interestingly complex. Noah’s Arc is here to tell everyone that being different is “O.K. and Fabulous!” No matter what your feelings are for the show, at the end of the day, Patrik-Ian Polk is a pioneer, and should be commended for finding a way to get the black gay man on television, a weekly series. He’s the first one to do it, and that marks a spot in history for him, the show and the network.

    WANT MORE ON PATRIK IAN POLK? CLIK HERE TO GET THE NEW CLIK MAGAZINE IN STORES NOW



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