‘House Of Lies’ Star Donis Leonard Jr Talks Roscoe’s Gender Journey & What’s Next

by | March 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Black Entertainment, General, House of Lies, LGBT, Showtime

Bex Taylor-Klaus & Donis Leonard Jr (Showtime)

We’re here for you, Roscoe!

The teen son of Marty Kaan, played by Donis Leonard, Jr., has been going through a lot this season on Showtime’s hit series, “House Of Lies“ as he’s forged a relationship with Lex (Bex Taylor-Klaus), a teenager who identifies as a girl. While it first seemed like a good thing for Roscoe to find someone who was dealing with gender issues as he was, Lex has proven to be controlling and reluctant to let Roscoe be who he wants to be, something the teen has worked hard at getting from his father and grandfather (Glynn Turman).

I asked series creator Matthew Carnahan this week about how he and his writers think of Roscoe and Lex and how they’ve labeled them. “The thing that I notice about kids their age is they’re incredibly reluctant to put any kind of identifying moniker to their gender preference and their gender identity,” he explained, “so I really resisted putting any definition on Roscoe and on Lex, for that matter. But I would say that Lex is much closer to being what we would describe as transgender or gender queer and Roscoe would fall more into a gender fluid or non-gender identifying kind of category if he had to placed in any. I prefer to keep letting him…continue to defy the audience expectations and just when you think you’ve got it pegged, he morphs a little and explores something else.”

Carnahan added about how he and his writers have worked to understand what the teens are going through, “It’s such an interesting world and it’s so often a closed world so I think we so often get interpretations of people in this world as pretty broadly painted stereotypes who are tragic characters or prostitutes or whatever. I think between the people in our writers’ room, they know a lot of these kids. We were able to pool our resources.”

And how has it been for Leonard to play the role? The 15-year old actor gave me a window into playing the role and why the character has made some of the choices he’s made this season.

The relationship between Roscoe and Lex has been a challenging one. Why is Roscoe still putting up with Lex?

Donis Leonard Jr: Roscoe finally has a girlfriend who shares the same exploration of dress, love of basketball, video games, etc. as himself. He thinks that he is in love with Lex. Lex is Roscoe’s handicap. Every time that Roscoe feels that he is lacking something, he turns to Lex to fill that hole. Also, Roscoe being a teenager naturally creates immaturity that blinds him from seeing the reality of the disaster that is unfolding.

Roscoe’s father and grandfather have voiced their concern for how Lex treats him. Why doesn’t Roscoe listen to them?

DL: As a teenager having your first relationship is always challenging and when you think that you are in “love” listening to your father or grandfather [isn't]  high up on your list. This is typical of all teenagers. Roscoe knows that they are both smart and that they are only looking out for him in the best way but growing up means making your own decisions about things and right now he is into Lex. So he is being rebellious because he is so stuck on “love.”

It’s easy to see why Lex may not be good for Roscoe but is there a way that Lex is good for Roscoe even at this point?

DL: I think that Lex is good for Roscoe because it is giving him a wakeup call for the real world. Roscoe is such a fortunate kid. He has a family that loves him even though they don’t always understand him. Being in any relationship, especially with Lex, is maturing Roscoe out of his blindness.

Fans of Roscoe’s just want to see him express himself, even through dance. Will we see him get his chance?

DL: Roscoe loves to dance and he is very interested in the 818. You will just have to keep watching the show to find out.

Without giving too much away, will the events in this week’s episode change Roscoe for the better or is there still drama to come?

DL: This is “House of Lies”… there is always more drama and awesomeness to come. Roscoe is growing up and everything he is going through is a part of growing up. Roscoe is changing through every experience he has. This past week’s episode shows that even though he can be a tough guy to his father and behave like he is in total control, he really is young and hurt and just needs his Dad.

Don Cheadle and Donis Leonard Jr (Showtime)

Even if Roscoe decides to break from Lex, will Lex allow that to happen?

DL: Lex has a strong personality. Lex isn’t going to let Roscoe go easily if that is what he decides to do.  Break ups can get messy and high school break ups are even messier because immaturity comes into play. You will just have to wait and see what Roscoe decides to do!

You’ve had some really tense, emotional scenes with Bex Taylor-Klaus this season? How has that been as an actor?

DL: Bex is a very talented actress and it was fun to share the screen with her this season. I started playing the role of Roscoe at the age of 10. The role has always been a wonderfully unique challenge. As I have grown up Roscoe has grown up and this season has been amazing for us both. Intense emotional work as an actor in my opinion is fun. I have been excited to show my acting chops this season. I am at the beginning of my career and to have this storyline playing this character at 14 years old in this day and age is a blessing.  I just want to keep growing as an actor and “House of Lies has given me that opportunity.

“House Of Lies” airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.