Tati Gabrielle Discusses Avoiding LGBTQ+ Stereotypes In Her Projects - Exclusive

LGBTQ+ movie and TV fans have been fighting for authentic representation on the screen for generations. For too long, queer characters have typically fallen into three tropes: a stereotyped character for comedic value, an expendable character used to further the trauma or arc of the straight lead, and torture porn plotlines that rarely show any queer joy. Not cool.

Yet in spite of a slew of legislation that's trying to silence and remove rights from the LGBTQ+ community, organizations like PFLAG exist to offer allyship and awareness — from representation to securing (and keeping) LGBTQ+ rights. Hollywood also has countless LGBTQ+ actors doing work on and off the screen to ensure better, more accurate storylines for their queer characters. One such actor is Tati Gabrielle, whom fans might know from her roles as Prudence in "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," Jo in "Uncharted," and Gaia in "The 100."

PFLAG invited The List to the organization's 50th Anniversary Gala, where we had the opportunity to catch up with Gabrielle about avoiding LGBTQ+ stereotypes in projects like "Uncharted" and "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" — and how more networks and studios can listen to the queer community to better inform the direction of on-screen LGBTQ+ characters.

Keeping queer storylines authentic

When we asked Tati Gabrielle what it means to her to tell these stories in a way that avoids stereotypes, she said, "It means the world to me. Especially within my art, I feel that film and television is supposed to reflect the world back at itself." Authentic representation is important to Gabrielle, who added, "When you do that — with the characters that I've played — in a way that is grounded, that is normal, as it is in our everyday life ... that's how you give [the] best homage to someone who is standing in that field."

Something that we see more of now that was almost unheard of even a decade ago is Black-led queer fantasy, sci-fi, and other genre films and TV shows. Gabrielle commented on what she'd like to see more of from these and what steps the industry can take to better support these shows to avoid cancellation: "They can go further. As opposed to having just one character that is LGBTQ or non-binary, make it reflect the way that our society is. Sprinkle more in there."

Listening to fans

Tati Gabrielle also simply wants networks to listen. "The networks can listen more to the fans and pander more to them by listening [and] understanding that when they're shouting their outrage toward things, it's not just because they want to be bratty and they want to be whatever, [but] they want to be represented properly," she explained. "They want to see themselves. We all watch movies as children and [find] a piece of [ourselves in] a character, and that's what [gives] us inspiration or hope for our own future. If they listen a little bit more, we can go a lot further."

While representation has gotten miles better even in the past decade, some shows still make mistakes. Gabrielle's series "The 100" faced a lot of fan outrage after killing off a woman of color, Lexa, who was dating the show's main character, Clarke — only to give Clarke a boyfriend. 

Gabrielle believes productions can take more steps to be more inclusive. "More shows should have a consultant of some sort," she said. "In LGBT, if you're going to touch on our field and in that topic, have a consultant — have somebody that you can directly ask. Don't guess, because that's often the problem." She added, "The showrunners that we had for 'The 100,' they tried, and they were trying to be inclusive with that. But I think they didn't have enough education and enough information around it. Have a consultant, or make sure you're educated."

Fans can learn more about PFLAG's mission and make a donation at PFLAG.org.