The CW’s Archie-Comics-derived, RIVERDALE spinoff KATY KEENE is now in its first season on Thursday nights. The title heroine (Lucy Hale), an aspiring designer, lives with three roommates: aspiring singer Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), aspiring promoter Pepper Smith (Julia Chan), and aspiring Broadway performer Jorge Lopez, played by Jonny Beauchamp.
Jorge has a cabaret gig as his female alter ego, Ginger. Beauchamp, originally from Puerto Rico, has played transgender and cross-dressing characters before, as Angelique in Showtime’s PENNY DREADFUL and as Ray/Ramona in the film STONEWALL. His other credits include the features THIRSTY, NERVE, and BLACK WAKE.
At a Q&A session for KATY KEENE, Beauchamp (pronounced BO-cham) answers some questions about his work on the series. Later that day, at a party thrown by The CW for its talent, its creatives, and the press, Beauchamp discusses Jorge and Ginger further.
We see both Jorge and Ginger in various dance numbers, including Broadway auditions. Regarding his own dance background, Beauchamp says, “When I was a kid, I was really into musical theater, and I thought that was really the dream in my lane, because I never dreamed that I could actually be on a TV show. I thought I was a little too different. So I had tried to do all the kind of dancing/singing training that I could. I remember, I did just music theater, dance, jazz, ballet, of course, for technique. And then I ended up not doing much with it, and I hadn’t danced in a while.
“And then I got booked on this show, and I was like, I better get back in shape. So I immediately started going to dance class. And even in my house, I’m just trying to mimic some of the moves. We got to work with one of my favorite director/choreographers, Kelly Devine. And she’s no nonsense, let me tell you. But she broke it down for me really well, and we had private sessions. And then I also got to work with some of the best dancers on Broadway for that scene. And so I just really felt at home, and I really felt in my element about it.”
Jorge is insulted by a casting director at an audition. Does Beauchamp identify with Jorge’s frustration and anger at this incident? “To be frank with you, when I read the pilot, it was about three o’clock in the morning, and I was really dumbfounded, because I play a lot of characters that are not like myself at all, and this was the first time that I kind of felt like I was on the page. I play a lot of dark characters, but I’m a bit more light, and kind of fun. And just to be able to have this moment, kind of a faceoff with the casting director, and I felt like I got to speak for a lot of actors, that frustration of being told that you’re too this, or you’re not enough or anything, and just being able to give back to them. I don’t think I could ever do that in real life, but it felt really empowering to do it on the show. I just think that Jorge’s like a heightened version of myself. He’s a lot more brave than I am, I’d say.”
ASSIGNMENT X: Is your background originally in musical theater?
JONNY BEAUCHAMP: I started out in musical theater. I’ve gotten final callbacks for so many Broadway shows – IN THE HEIGHTS, for RENT, for SPRING AWAKENING – and I just never quite got it, you know? HAMILTON, even. And so TV just kind of happened by accident, and I have never left. I do most of my work on television, and I’m honored to do it, but I love that I get to kind of go back to my theater roots a bit on this one.
AX: When you auditioned for KATY KEENE, did they have you audition first as Jorge or as Ginger? And which character took more time to get into?
BEAUCHAMP: Both characters were in the audition, but I think we had me audition as Jorge first. And then very early on, I was like, “Well, Ginger is a huge part of the show. I need to show them that I can give you that.” So with the second scene, I definitely tried to dial that up a lot. But then I thought to myself, “Do you know what? I bet everyone is going at a ten, because it’s such a coveted role.” So I actually really worked. And [director] Maggie [Kiley] was really cool in the test, bringing it down and making Ginger like a real person, as opposed to just kind of a drag caricature that we are used to. I really leaned into that, which was really helpful.
AX: Does Jorge consider himself more Jorge and he’s putting on a performance as Ginger?
AX: So he does not identify as Ginger?
BEAUCHAMP: Well, I think Jorge definitely identifies as a queer person, and [these days] the lines have blurred so much. So I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth and speak too soon. As of now, Jorge is very much a boy, but he identifies as a queer person. He might actually be gender-queer. I personally consider myself gender-queer; I like to play around the lines and color outside them, as opposed to in them, and I think Jorge and I are very similar. But Ginger is very much his inner, I would say, spirit animal. He just gets all the negativity, everything that he’s bottled up, all that mean hatred, he gets to explode it with this beautiful, positive, sexy, feminine creature, and that’s my favorite part of the role.
AX: The space in the shared apartment seems to be a bit fluid – not gender-fluid, but just fluid. Does Jorge have any protectiveness of any space of his in the apartment?
BEAUCHAMP: Oh, absolutely. And what’s great is that Jorge and Katy started off as best friends. So it’s very much our apartment. And then Josie, off a favor, gets to come stay with us, and we instantly fall in love with her. And Pepper’s always around. And so the color palette you can see – Katy’s very much of a red. Jorge is kind of like that cerulean teal that kind of just is around and was probably there first. Jorge’s family owns the building. But Katy has really come in and peppered the space with all the glitz and the fashion and the fun. So it’s a nice little homey spot. I know my apartment doesn’t look like that.
AX: How did Jorge feel when Katy’s boxer boyfriend K.O., played by Zane Holtz, moved in for awhile?
BEAUCHAMP: I think at first he was kind of annoyed [laughs]. Nobody wants a freeloader coming into his space. But he loves K.O., and K.O. is such a gentle giant, and I’m actually hoping that K.O. and Jorge get a little bit more one on one time. Maybe he can train Jorge or something. I think that would be fun.
AX: So does Jorge want to learn to box?
BEAUCHAMP: I think everyone should learn how to box, especially if you’re living in the Big Bad Apple, in New York City You want to be a little tough.
AX: There’s a scene at a big Broadway dance audition sequence, where the director calls Jorge out, but you don’t seem noticeably different from the other dancers …
BEAUCHAMP: No. They actually liked what I brought to it, and they liked how tough he was. But like most actors, we’re tough on the outside, but then we go home and we cry, because we care so much about the work, and it’s our hearts out there, you know? First of all, thank you very much for saying that I was holding my own with those dancers. That is a compliment, because those are the Who’s Who of Broadway on that stage with me. We actually had to shoot it on a Monday so that we could get the cream of the drop for that one shot. But they didn’t tell me anything about that. I think it was just, I was feeding off of their energy. They were so amazing. And I was like, “Gosh, I really need to step it up!” I hope I answered your question. Did I not really answer it?
AX: Well, just that the director objected to Jorge being not traditionally masculine enough, but he didn’t seem noticeably less traditionally masculine than the other male dancers in the audition …
BEAUCHAMP: I think that’s a little bit of it. I think it’s all opinion-based. And sometimes you’re the best one on the line, and they say you’re not good enough. And you’re like, “What do you mean? He’s holding his own with everybody else. That can’t be the reason.” And so I think in that moment of frustration, Jorge just goes, “You know what? I’ve heard it before. You guys just give me a different excuse every time. But I am good enough. And you know what? I’m going to show you. And I’m going to show you as I walk away.” They told him to leave. But it just felt more that it was on my terms if I’m walking away.
AX: Do you have any input into Ginger’s routines?
BEAUCHAMP: I do a little bit. Of course, it’s our first season. What they say goes, but they definitely ask me how I feel about this music, or how I feel about that, and we’re crafting Ginger together. Because drag is so vast now, there are so many different [styles] – there are Old Wave queens, comedy queens, theater queens, sexy queens, hip-hop queens. And so we’re trying to find what sort of queen Ginger really is. Jorge is starting out, so he’s not as finessed, as perfect, but he’s still pretty damn good.
AX: Is it like, Ginger is where Jorge puts out his extreme emotions?
AX: Were you a fan of any of the comic books, KATY KEENE or ARCHIE, related to this?
BEAUCHAMP: Funny story. I didn’t read the comic books, it was before my time, but what I did have is, I grew up in the Bronx, and we had Bazooka bubble gum. And in every [wrapped piece of] Bazooka, there would be a little comic in there, and it’d be Betty and Archie and Jughead, and I would take the gum out of my mouth, put it on the wall, and then stick the comics to my wall. And it would be like a wallpaper of these old little ARCHIE one-minute comics. And then, growing up, once I started getting into fashion, that’s when I actually found out about KATY KEENE, was through fashion, not through the comics.
AX: So are you kind of a fashionista yourself?
BEAUCHAMP: Oh, yeah.
AX: You are wearing an orange ribbon today. What does that represent?
BEAUCHAMP: The orange ribbon is standing in solidarity against gun violence, with the recent events of El Paso. Unfortunately, I think we just had another [mass shooting], while we were doing our press tour. So the cast all got together, and we decided we wanted to stand in solidarity, so we put on these orange ribbons.
AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?
BEAUCHAMP: No future projects on the horizon right now. The CW’s got me pretty booked. I did do a short film called SEE YOU SOON, which is about a weekend of two boys who met on opposite sides of the country, and they have three days together. And so it’s kind of a bittersweet story. They really want to make it into a feature. I had a great time shooting it; I actually shot it with one of my college friends, James Cusati-Moyer, and Tyler Rabinowitz directed and wrote it. So I’m really excited about that, but my main focus right now is definitely KATY KEENE.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about KATY KEENE?
BEAUCHAMP: That it’s got something for everybody. We’ve got music, we’ve got fashion, and if you love New York, I think it’s going to be a really fun ride. I describe this show as a delicious candy apple at the fair – a little sweet, a little sour, a little earthy, but candy.
This interview was conducted during The CW’s party for the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: KATY KEENE: Jonny Beauchamp on Season 1 – Exclusive Interview