Miles Gutierrez-Riley: "The Wilds," POC LGBTQ+ representation, & Upcoming Film, "On The Come Up"

Interview by: Orchee Sorker | Photos by: Emilio Madrid | May 20, 2022

Miles Gutierrez-Riley talks with HAZZE MEDIA about starring in Amazon Prime’s hit series The Wilds, having POC LGBTQ+ representation in the industry, & starring in Paramount’s film adaptation of On The Come Up (Angie Thomas’ New York Times bestselling follow-up book to The Hate U Give).


How did you get started in acting?


M: I started acting in my local community theater when I was in sixth grade. I continued with performing arts through high school, and I started writing and directing. It was my passion. It was everything I wanted to do. When it came time to apply for schools, I sort of realized that there was nothing else that I wanted to study other than this. I applied to acting schools in New York and LA, and I went to my top choice in New York and started working pretty soon after I graduated.


You play Ivan Taylor in season 2 of The Wilds. Did you see any similarities between yourself and Ivan’s character? What was one of your favorite scenes to shoot? Ivan’s character was first seen this season. What was it like meeting with the cast?


M: I see similarities in that…We're both very unafraid to express who we are. We're both very comfortable being true to ourselves and speaking up for what we believe in. The key differences lie in the way we go about advocating for ourselves and our beliefs. He's a bit of a provoker and is a bit more conflict ready than I am. I can see his immaturity, and he's still in the process of figuring himself out.

My favorite scene to shoot was the locker room scene with Charles who plays Kirin. It was very intense and very emotionally difficult. I hesitate to use the word antagonistic, but he's definitely walking a moral gray zone in that scene. I get to play with such intense emotions, especially when someone is talented as Charles, was very exciting. I think that the scene came out really nicely.

The cast was amazing. It was like all these new best friends and like a given family. It was amazing to meet the boys, see all their personalities, and get to know them through working with them. Meeting the girls was just amazing. Seeing people that were so comfortable. I'm confident in the work that they'd already done coming back and like showing us the ropes. It was a lot of fun to be with everybody.


Your character, Ivan, portrays a POC LGBTQ+ narrative. Why do you think representation is important? Do you think The Wilds did a good job presenting Ivan? In what ways, can Hollywood improve with representation on screen?


M: The Wilds does an amazing job with LGBTQ+ POC representation because Ivan is not a two dimensional character. He's very complex. He is in the wrong often, even though his intentions are correct. Humanity and complexity is more exciting to me than being someone who is on the surface or someone that is instantly likable and relatable and fun. As humans, we all make mistakes, we all try to go about getting the things that we want in ways that may hurt other people. To play Ivan in a world, they've crafted some really deep dark corners of his soul, but also given care and attention to them is very special to me. It's an honor to play him.

Following the example of The Wilds, this is a great place to start. To have an LGBTQ character is not enough. You have to make sure that you're presenting them, not as just the best friend, not as just someone who's there to crack the jokes, but as someone with depth and complexity and, and vulnerability. It is important to dive into the ways that they are full bodied, well-rounded dynamic people. Hollywood is going in the right direction, but there's more work to be done.


I heard you will be in the upcoming film On The Come Up. What is it like being in a major feature film? Can we get an insight on your role? What is the expected release date?


M: It's obviously very exciting and fun. I'm smiling so big thinking about it. On The Come Up is based on Angie Thomas's best seller book. I play Sonny who is also a queer character who lives very out and proud the best friend to our protagonist Bree. He is very sunny. He's really loose. Playing him right after playing Ivan was a great way to just sort of let go, have fun, and crack jokes. It felt very light. That felt equally important. I'm excited to see the movie and excited for people to see the movie. We shot it in Atlanta last year. I do not know the release date, but I'm hoping for the end of this year. We'll have to wait and see. I'm on the edge of my seat!


What is one dream role you want to play in the future?


M: I'd love to play a queer character in a love story that is complicated and heartbreaking and touching. Something as heart-wrenching, as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, but make it gay.