Wayne Brady on Pansexuality, ‘Family Remix’ Reality TV Show 5

It’s Wayne Brady‘s first Pride Month since announcing his pansexual identity in August, but not much feels different for the actor and Let’s Make a Deal host.

“I think the only difference is my own visible stamp of myself saying, ‘This is who I am,’ and celebrating this month going forward and every other month and every year and every day,” says Brady. “It’s me.”

Audiences will get an intimate view of what that looks like on Brady’s upcoming docu-reality series, Wayne Brady: The Family Remix, set for release July 24 on Freeform (and streaming on Hulu the next day). The show stars Brady, his ex-wife Mandie Taketa; their daughter, Maile Masako Brady, 21; Taketa’s life partner, Jason Fordham; and Fordham and Taketa’s young son, Sundance-Isamu.

“It felt like the doctor’s appointment that never ended,” the typically private Brady says of having cameras follow his family around the clock as they navigate both personal issues and their business, A Wayne & Mandie Creative, the production company behind the unscripted series.

Pushing past that discomfort was an important step for the entertainer. “I just celebrated my 52nd birthday, and I just got to this place right now where I can have this conversation, because it took me this amount of time to be able to start to do work on myself, to be able to really invest in my mental health, to invest in therapy, to take this journey.”

What compelled him to do the show, he says, is the opportunity to present a truly blended family to TV audiences. In their family, Brady is also considered a co-parent of 3-year-old Sundance-Isamu.

“At its heart, it’s a story about a blended family, a chosen family, people that have agreed to love each other and stay in each other’s lives and fight the good fight together. My ex-wife, Mandie, and I didn’t have to be best friends. We didn’t have to stay together and love each other and help raise our daughter. We could have done it in a very distanced way, but we chose to be in each other’s lives. I’ve chosen to be Jason, her life partner’s, brother. We’ve chosen to raise Maile as our daughter. And now we’re embarking on this new journey with their child, Sonny. We have to share that story because we don’t see it enough.”

As for whether viewers will get to see him dating on Wayne Brady: The Family Remix, he says that’s not where his head is right now. “I’m still single. It’s almost like I’ve got the Christmas gift of, now that everybody knows my business, I can do whatever I want — but I don’t necessarily want to do anything. And I think that’s cool, too. I’ve dated so much all these years because I was looking for something and I couldn’t put my finger on it. What I was looking for was the truth. So finally, I can take a breath and go, ‘OK, Wayne, you decide what you want.’ ”

But Brady does share that since coming out, “I’ve been blessed enough that my DMs are popping. I’ve had a lot of applicants from every pool. It makes your boy feel good.” Would he be open to marrying again? “I don’t know. I’m finding out all this stuff right now. I may be open to marrying if I meet that person. I’ve never been in a place before where I’ve had an open heart past my marriage to Mandie because I was dealing with my own stuff. So maybe. You never say never.”

Wayne Brady

Jason Michael Fordham

Mandie was the first person to whom Brady came out, and since then, he says, “I’ve felt supported everywhere that I’ve looked. My friends in the business have shown nothing but love. I’ve gotten love from my family, too. We have my birth mother [on the show] and there’s an episode where I talk to her about it and what I think is great is even when somebody doesn’t understand and it goes against their beliefs, as long as love is there, that’s cool, too. I was ready for that because I was raised in a very Christian environment, so it didn’t bother me. We can agree to disagree.”

As for his hopes for the message of the show, Brady says that “at the end of the day, if I helped anyone, whether it was them seeing me struggle with the pansexual journey or seeing a struggle with certain issues as a family, if anyone took anything positive out of it, then we’ve done our job, then the show is a success.”

Brady spoke further with THR about the new show and how it came out, whether he thinks he’ll marry again and what it was like to star years back on Broadway in Kinky Boots in high heels:

Did anyone take persuading to get on board?

No, this was a group decision. At the end of the day, it was probably me who was closest to pulling the plug at some point because I was like, am I really going to talk to people about what I’ve kept to myself all this time? Do I want to open the floodgates of social media for people to talk about my family like this? And we said, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it together. And that’s what we did.

How do you see yourself handling conversations around the show online?

I’m of two minds. One mind is, as my daughter likes to say, not my circus, not my monkey. I should just leave it alone, right? But then the other side of me likes to get online and correct people when I think that folks are wrong. I think I have to hit a middle ground. I believe in the age of docuseries and reality shows, you want people at home to be invested enough to get on Twitter and have conversations. If you want to have conversations about sexuality, gender, race, equality, parenting because of our show, cool, let’s go. But don’t bring your bull crap to me just ‘cause you wanna say something to get a reaction. That’s what I’m gonna try to avoid. I don’t wanna get online and cuss somebody out.

Are you open to marrying again?

I don’t know. I’m finding out all this stuff right now. I may be open to marrying if I meet that person. I’ve never been in a place before where I’ve had an open heart past my marriage to Mandie because I was dealing with my own stuff. So maybe, you never say never.

Thinking back to 2015 when you took over the role of Lola in Kinky Boots, did that moment feel freeing?

In a way, but I don’t think it’s directly connected to the pansexual piece. Jerry [Mitchell] gave me the chance to come in and take over from Billy [Porter], and the biggest compliment I ever received is hearing that Jerry said, “Wayne really is Lola.” When I read the script, I went, “Oh, yeah, I’m Lola,” I’m that kid who didn’t know what box to fit into. I knew that I was different, but different is okay. Maybe you’re forced to go down one route, but then you take control of your narrative. That’s what Lola/Simon did. As a kid, I wanted to be in the army like my dad to impress my dad, but I really wanted to perform. Playing Lola was the first time that Wayne ever got a chance to be free like that on stage. I was a British former boxer, who dresses in drag and sings and dances. I’ve never felt like more of a man than dressed as a woman in five-inch heels.

A version of this story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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