For actor Chyler Leigh, art imitated life when her character on The CW’s “Supergirl” came out as a lesbian, prompting her own journey of self-discovery.
Leigh candidly unpacked how her onscreen alter ego helped her come to terms with her own sexuality in a Pride Month essay she posted on Create Change, the website she co-founded. The site aims to help readers “become the change you want to see in the world.”
“When I was told that my character was to come out in season two, a flurry of thoughts and emotions flew through and around me because of the responsibility I personally felt to authentically represent Alex’s journey,” Leigh wrote.
“What I didn’t realize was how the scene where she finally confessed her truth would leap off the pages of the script and genuinely become a variation of my own. IRL. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest each take we filmed, every time presenting another opportunity to get those honest words out of my mouth,” she added. “Though they don’t exactly match my personal dialogue, the heart behind it surely did.”
The “Grey’s Anatomy” alum said that the overwhelmingly positive response to her character’s coming out scene made sense because “there’s some truth to what she said about me.”
While she didn’t specify her sexuality, Leigh explained how she and husband of nearly 20 years — with whom she shares three children — are continuing to grow together while she explores her identity.
“It’s been a long and lonely road for both my husband and myself but I can whole-heartedly say that after all these years, he and I are still discovering the depths of ourselves and each other, but throughout our journey we’ve learned to be proud of who we are, no matter the cost.”
But there were also those who weren’t as thrilled with the direction the superhero show was taking, Leigh said, including members of her own community.
“I was told from dear friends (and even avid watchers of ‘Supergirl’) that they would no longer watch the show because of the fact that Alex’s journey took a turn from their less than acceptable beliefs.”
She added: “Soon after, they began to distance themselves and eventually my family and I were outcast, marking the loss of many folks we loved.”
Still, Leigh insisted that she doesn’t “hold a grudge” about her detractors. “We all have had a hard time in one way or another with acceptance (whatever the subject may be) whether towards ourselves or others,” she added.
On Instagram Tuesday, Leigh thanked fans for their response to her essay.
“Today I’ve received an outpouring of love and support for acknowledging and loving myself as the person I truly am,” she wrote. “Once we face our own true selves, we can better see the world around us, as well as how we can make a positive and lasting change for the sake of equality and love.”
Leigh concluded her message by writing, “I’m grateful to see more clearly, breathe a little easier, and I’m proud to contribute to all that I believe in with an honest, open heart. Sending love to you all.”
Production on the most recent season of “Supergirl” was shut down in mid-March because of the coronavirus, and the series aired a makeshift early finale. The next season is slated to return in spring 2021.
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