Showtime’s LGBTQ series The L Word: Generation Q returned on August 8th, and we talked with Leo Sheng, the trans actor who reprised his role as Micah Lee.
On the Sept 5th episode, Micah realized he was interested in women and kissed his friend Maribel for the first time.
We chatted with Sheng about his character’s evolving sexual identity, that passionate kiss, and counseling college students.
Hi Leo. This has been quite a season for you so far. The L Word: Generation Q has ramped up your storyline. How does it feel to be part of a series that produces content at the forefront of representation discussion?
I feel so incredibly honored to be part of this series. The original show tore down so many barriers and allowed lesbians and queer women to see themselves on screen in ways they never had before.
And to continue to expand on what queerness looks like across the community has been a genuine pleasure.
Was it always in the cards to explore Micah’s sexual identity more since we saw in Episode 5 he kissed and slept with Maribel?
Marja alluded to it a bit when the writers’ room reconvened for season 2. In season one, I think the consensus was that, while we only saw Micah dating/hooking up with men, he identified as queer.
That’s how I viewed him. So, even though I didn’t know where his journey with his identity would take him — or who it would be with — I had a feeling that was always a possibility.
Had that been building for several episodes? I genuinely love their relationship. Is she the reason he’s suddenly interested in girls or had that been building?
That is such a great question. I loved getting to build a friendship between Micah and Maribel. Jillian and I are friends in real life, so it was easy to bring out chemistry to the screen.
I don’t know if Maribel is the sole reason he’s realizing his attraction may be shifting, but I will say that Maribel is probably what sparked his self-reflection because I also believe he’d eventually realize it on his own.
Micah is a social worker; he’s queer and trans. These are pieces of him I believe impact his ability to be introspective in ways someone who doesn’t hold those same identities might.
We see in the Season 2 promo that he tells someone he slept with her. Can you tease any more about this journey?
Micah tells Dani that he slept with a woman, yeah, but he doesn’t say who. As we saw in episode 5, that woman was, in fact, Maribel.
Without any spoilers, I will say that I think Micah and Maribel’s story is real in that there are awkward and confusing moments.
Micah’s journey of self-reflection and allowing himself to experience his queerness in new ways doesn’t end simply because he and Maribel slept together. We get to see the messy parts of Micah, but also of discovering one’s identity.
Micah also broke up with his previous love interest Jose when he learned Jose was married. How much did Dani and Sophie’s situation affect his choice?
I think Micah realized that even though he didn’t know José was married, he saw the destruction of something like that could cause. He saw the pain and the heartbreak, and he didn’t want to be the reason for it. I definitely don’t think Micah would have been the *sole* person responsible.
As he told Finley. It’s complicated when there are multiple sides to the story. But I think he really had to evaluate what he wanted his role to be, the happiness he wanted to pursue, and the person he wanted to be with.
You seem so torn between your friendship with Sophie and Finley and your long-time loyalty to Dani. I love your scenes with Finley.
I love working with Jacqueline Toboni (Finley). I love working with everyone, honestly.
I think what the writers have been able to show is that even in a tight friend group, everyone has a unique relationship with each other.
All the friendships are different. Micah feels loyal to Dani because of their history, but he also deeply cares about Sophie and Finely and wants them to be happy as well.
Do you think two people can get past a cheating mistake once the truth is out?
If there is open and honest communication, and folks can practice honesty with themselves as well as their partner, I don’t see why a couple couldn’t rebuild what may have been lost.
I love how Micah is a therapist and helps other students. Do you use some of your personal experiences when counseling the students?
I also really love that Micah is a therapist. That’s what I was studying when I auditioned for the role, and I’m really glad Marja kept that in there.
I don’t think I used my own experiences during those counseling scenes because I had family and friends who supported me in my identity, whereas some folks Micah is seeing might not have that support system.
Do you think other trans people like Micah get pigeonholed into working with similar clients as themselves?
I think that a few things happen: one, there are some trans people who might prefer trans healthcare providers.
There are a lot of cisgender providers who aren’t competent in trans health issues, and it can be a pretty traumatic experience for some trans people. So, I think it’s important to note that desire exists and with reason.
I also think that cis people might assume that’s what a trans client/patient wants and, without asking, assigns trans staff to that client/patient. I think trans healthcare providers get pigeon-holed into treating trans clients/patients only.
I read you are adopted. Do you relate to Angie’s story with her wanting to meet her birth father? How did filming that counseling session work? Everyone seemed to have a heated opinion.
I felt a bit connected to Angie’s story. I can understand the desire to know more about where you come from biologically. I get that desire to want to feel connected to that part of yourself. It’s a vulnerable thing to admit that your family.
Jordan(Angie) absolutely killed that scene (as she does all of them). But that one was so moving and so powerful: a young person asserting her needs and wants to her family while knowing it might upset them.
Filming it felt just as tense as I’m sure it looked (I haven’t seen it as of writing this). We’d do the traditional wide shot and then coverage, and when it got to everyone’s coverage, I was in awe but also trying to remember my lines.
It was also one of my first big scenes with Jennifer(Bette) and my first time working with Laurel (Tina) and Rosie (Carrie).
I remember Jennifer staying in character between takes and taking some digs at Micah, and I think that really helped me lean into what Micah would’ve been feeling: overwhelmed, unsure, somewhat anxious.
You can watch The L Word: Generation Q on Fridays on the Showtime app or on Sunday nights on Showtime at 10 pm.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.