Fresh off his breakout role opposite Ed Helms in Rutherford Falls, LGBTQIA+ actor Jesse Leigh sounds off on his O.C. upbringing and inspiring his peers.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KELLY BALCH
What does it mean to play Bobbie Yang, the personal assistant of Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms), in Peacock’s Rutherford Falls? It means everything to me. To be able to play a role that I would have looked up to as a kid makes me beam. We are very similar. Bobbie does not let age or gender limit them and their hustle. Also, the wardrobe, which has a ’70s flair to it, is to die for.
What have you enjoyed most about working with Helms and producer Michael Schur? Both Ed and Mike are genius collaborators; they made impromptu yet bold decisions that created a very fun set.
You graduated from Orange County School of the Arts. How did that experience prepare you for where you are today? When I went to OCSA, I learned what the word rigor meant. I was in singing, acting and dance classes every day. Going to school with other queer kids was really an awakening to my gender identity. The school created an LGBTQ+ friendly space. We even had our own Pride Day in which we celebrated our diverse students.
How do you hope to use your voice to uplift the LGBTQIA+ community? I’m going to make genderqueer characters more visible on screen. That is why I purposefully made Bobbie Yang have they/them pronouns. I hadn’t seen it done before so I knew it was time.
Dream dinner party: Who is there and what do you serve? Lady Gaga, Prince and Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones. I would serve Italian food!