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Performers Of The Month - October Winner: Outstanding Actor - Tyler Young

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Representation is important to people of every race, gender, religious orientation, and sexuality. Every person innately wants to see a part of them represented on the screen. Unfortunately, some people are sorely underrepresented. That’s especially true in the LGBT community, where characters that fall into the spectrum range in the very low single-digit percentage of character counts when compared to most other groups. It is that sad statistic that makes it important for the characters that do exist to be done right. That means the writers have to take great pains to make sure that they write these characters in respectful ways while still being true to the story they want to tell. Most importantly, they then have to entrust their words to a performer who can bring the character to life in a realistic way. For the duration of that character’s existence, that performer will be the face of this very important character, so casting it right is of the utmost importance. A script can be amazing, but if the performer doesn’t have the range to bring it to life, even the best-intentioned shows can see their relationships fizzle out, not because the story was done being told, but because the performer just couldn’t do it justice. In those cases, it is sometimes best to let the character go and hope to do better next time. Then there are those truly magical moments when beautiful words are handed to a performer and they not only skillfully bring them to life, they give the character so much heart that the audience instantly falls in love with them. The truly special performers can do such a magical job that the character is no longer seen as gay; they simply just are a stunningly real-feeling three-dimensional being. That’s precisely what Tyler Young has done with Philip Shea on Eyewitness. He brings so much depth to this young character that one can’t help but watch him and be left in awe. In particular, his performances in Bella, Bella, Bella (1x3) were unparalleled making it obvious why he was the fan-chosen winner of the title of the most outstanding actor of October. He earned this honor by delivering honest performances throughout the episode.

In the big picture of things, Young is a relative newcomer to the industry. He has some credits to his name, doing brilliant work in each part he has inhabited, but it is the part of Philip that he will be remembered for well into his career. It’s not just because he’s playing a gay character, but because of the raw emotional substance he’s brought to this character. Some performers are afraid to play a gay character because it means they’ll likely have to kiss someone of the same sex. In some cases, a performer will take on a gay character despite their reservations about having to portray intimacy with someone of the same sex. It happens far more often than most would like to admit, but it is always obvious. Thankfully, in the case of Young, he and regular scene partner James Paxton (Lukas Waldenbeck) have no qualms about kissing each other. They both exude such raw emotion that the attraction between their characters is palpable on screen. These two have taken the time to build up a rapport that allows them to trust in each other throughout some tough scenes. In Bella, Bella, Bella, they shared a beautiful kiss outside of the gay bar that Philip had dragged them to. It was Lukas who initiated the kiss, in public nonetheless, and Philip couldn’t have been more proud of the guy he’s falling for. The smirk on Young’s face as Philip took in their surroundings really helped to sell the meaning of the moment. This was a huge step for Lukas, who was too freaked out to even stay in the gay bar, yet he found the courage to kiss Philip out on the street because his feelings gave him the strength to do so. The beauty of this scene, both from an on screen and off screen perspective, is the fact that it wasn’t all about Philip. This scene wasn’t about Young; his performance was important, but it was more important for him to support the performance Paxton was delivering. It was a huge moment for Lukas so, just like Philip was looking after him, Young was with Paxton, giving him everything he needed to pull it off. That’s not to take away meaning from Philip’s side of the story, because he was a very big part of the moment, but it is a huge compliment to Young. The best performers will never try to steal the spotlight from their co-stars. Instead, they will help elevate their performance. Young delivered a powerful performance all on his own, but the way he supported Paxton showed an incredible amount of maturity on his part. He might be a young actor, but he’s got an understanding of scene work that many performers triple his age still haven’t mastered.

This scene was important to the overall journey of these two as this was a huge step for them, but perhaps the most meaningful scene of the entire episode came before it, as Lukas took to the roof to escape everything that was going on and Philip went to check on him. What he found was the person he loves distraught. It was a testament to Philip’s character that he knew how to break through the fog of the trauma to get through to Lukas. This entire scene was also a tour de force for Young. He kept his voice level as Philip tried to reason with Lukas, yet there were these perfectly placed inflections in his voice that conveyed such powerful feelings. Every word he spoke was conveyed in a way that it was impossible to not feel Philip’s love for Lukas. In the part of the scene where Lukas is conveying his own nightmares about Philip being the one to get shot, there is such a look of anguish on Young’s face that the audience can tangibly feel his emotions radiating from the screen. Young clenches his jaw throughout this scene as a nonverbal indication of how desperately Philip is fighting to not lose his cool, because he too is trying to deal with the same trauma. He’s as affected by everything as Lukas is but, in this moment, he doesn’t have the luxury of losing his cool. The acting choices Young made in this scene were beyond any standard display of acting. He made sure there was no question about the feelings Philip is harboring for Lukas.

In this same scene, once they back away from the ledge, there is this intense moment of connection between them. As Philip confesses that his mom does indeed know he’s gay, he’s gently rubbing his thumb over Lukas’ arm. It’s the most ancient of calming techniques to help relax someone who is sick or distraught; basic human touch can go a long way. He does it almost without thinking, and the fact that it looks like that, not at all staged, shows great acting prowess by Young. Not every moment within a scene is all about the words. Sometimes it’s about what happens around the words that have the most meaning. The words spoken were important, and pivotal to the evolution of these two, but it was these soft, little touches that allowed Young to convey so much. But that wasn’t enough for him; this scene was important, and he made sure to give it everything he had. His eyes hold steady, always trying to catch Paxton’s, because eye contact is the ultimate signal of connectivity. This whole scene was one huge acting showcase for Young, who made very smart acting choices. His willingness to stay connected with Paxton at all times was a brilliant choice as it helped the audience to bond with the growing feelings between the characters.

In fact, he should be proud of everything he’s doing in his portrayal of this character. He’s a thoughtful actor who takes great effort to make every single second he’s on screen matter. Whether it’s the intimacy of the rooftop scene or the closeness of the kiss scene, he never faltered in his performance. But those were heavy scenes. Some performers can handle heavy scenes but fail with lighter moments and vice versa. Young is not one of those performers. He has mastered both aspects, evident as Philip and Lukas were walking down the street. It was a lighter moment where these two were just hanging out: Philip was joking around about knowing that Lukas thought he was a better kisser than Rose (Mercedes Morris) before, suddenly, he pauses and, with the most sincere and honest tone, confesses that he’d never used a condom before. Mid- scene tonal shifts like that are hard for a lot of performers to perfectly nail and yet he had no problem with it. He hit all the right notes and did so with such sincerity that it’s easy to see why Lukas is falling for him. Young delivered that line with soft eyes and a slightly nervous posture. No matter how confident Philip is, he’s still a young man falling in love and that can be terrifying, because being with someone means opening up to them and that’s not necessarily something Philip is extremely good at, and Young is so in tune with his character that he gets it and can convey that to the audience.

Their stuff at the club was interesting, because it showed that these two do still have some growing up to do as they figure out what this thing between them is. Up until this point, Philip had been the mature, in-control one of them. In this moment, he was showing his age and a certain bit of immaturity. The way Young played it is that Philip wasn’t insensitive to Lukas, it’s just that he was desperate to unwind and find some avenue to purge his own demons haunting him after what they witnessed. He still wants to be there for Lukas, but right in this moment he needed some sort of release from the real world, so he went some place he felt they’d be safe and accepted. He took them to a place where they could escape their lives by being other people for a little while. Lukas rejecting his plan frustrated him, but he still needed a moment to gather himself and get that drink before going back to being Lukas’ rock. Young uses nuanced shifts in his body to convey different things. When Philip goes from excited, to frustrated, to just needing a moment to decompress, those slight shifts convey these things just as much as the lines he’s delivering. Young is one of those actors that could be given a script without a single word in it and the audience would know exactly what was going on with the character, just because of how insanely talented he is at using his body as a tool.

While the mass majority of Young’s work is done opposite of Paxton, he’s not the only one Young gets to work with. One of the earliest scenes in the episode is between Gabe (Gil Bellows) and Philip. It’s a simple conversation, one about understanding love. This could have been a very awkward scene, but Young has this gift for knowing exactly how to act opposite whatever scene partner he has. He perfectly responded to every verbal and nonverbal cue given by Bellows. The little nods and nervous movements conveyed everything that was going on in his character’s head. It was almost like he was a little kid under the scrutiny of a parent. He understood what was being told to him, but didn’t really know how to admit to it. Philip knows what love feels like because he feels it every single time he’s with Lukas. Once again, it’s Young’s nuanced acting that sells this moment.

The skill he has is a true natural gift that he pulls off with such effortless ease that his work doesn’t come across as acting. He portrays Philip just as a young man falling in love and trying to survive in a tough situation. His chemistry with his co-stars, Paxton in particular, is unprecedented. Young cares about the quality of his work and giving the audience the best possible hour of television, and that is abundantly clear every time he is on screen. He works hard to do right by this character and ensure that a much-underrepresented group gets the representation they deserve. As a young actor playing a gay character, there could have been a whole array of awkwardness, but all that he conveys is genuine respect for those who are really living through the things Philip is feeling. He takes the time to engage with his fans and validate them. A good actor goes to work and does their job, but the truly special ones choose to keep engaging even after their work day has concluded. They care about their work and the meaning it has for those watching them perform. He is definitely one of those performers who wants the audience to feel involved and invested in the show, so he’s willing to go the extra mile for them. Young deserves all the kudos he can get for the extraordinary work he does.

Young was given a lot of exceptional scenes to portray in October and, as such, it was impossible to cover even a fraction of them. His work deserves to be recognized, so please feel free to use the comments section to talk about all the scenes that this article couldn’t cover.

Tyler Young was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor of October 2016. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his October performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Tyler’s work and to honor his performance in October on Eyewitness. Shipper-related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments, even from Tyler's fans. Honor the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

Note: This is a generic warning to avoid any issues in the comments section and to help keep this a fun and safe place to gush about the winners. This is geared to no fandom in particular.

Special thanks to Bradley Adams for editing this article.

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