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Soap opera debuts gay bullying story
TELEVISION Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by David-Elijah Nahmod

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On Wed., Aug. 22, NBC's Days of Our Lives—a series once set in a universe where LGBT people didn't exist—takes a giant step forward when it offers its viewers a harsh look at the very timely subject of gay bullying. On that day, gay character Sonny (Freddie Smith) will be attacked. His assailant is Tad (Brendan Coughlin), an old friend who fears that Sonny is trying to ''make'' him gay.

It's the second time Smith has played a gay role. The young actor was recently seen as a gay character in a five-episode arc on the CW's primetime soap 90210. In a phone interview with Windy City Times, Smith said he's not worried about typecasting. ''I'm playing a sexual orientation,'' he said. ''It's just a part of the character''.

Smith joined the cast of the 47-year-old soap approximately a year and a half ago. He said that viewer response to Sonny has been extremely positive. "It's great to see positive feedback. Through Twitter and fan mail, people tell me how much they relate to the character. Years ago, [LGBT] people had no stories they could relate to. This is an important part of life.''

The actor said that the show's approach to the bullying issue will differ considerably from what's usually seen in the media: "We're showing both sides of it. We'll see where Sonny is coming from, and where the bully is coming from. It'll be great to see people grow and mature."

Some of Sonny's onscreen support will come from Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall), Days of Our Lives' longtime leading lady. Viewers know Marlena as grandmother to Will (Chandler Massey), the show's other gay character. Marlena has been a rock for young Will. WCT asked Smith if there was any chance of a romance between Sonny and Will.

"Their friendship is growing closer," Smith replied. "There will be romance for Sonny." But the actor didn't specify if it'll be with Will.

For the time being, Days of Our Lives is the only project on Freddie Smith's plate. With the series producing five episodes a week, he said it is quite a workload. "I'm totally consumed with Sonny," the actor stated. "I live and breathe Sonny. This story is going to be intense."

Days of Our Lives airs weekday afternoons on NBC, and weeknights on Soapnet (available to Dish Network and Direct TV customers only).

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