23-year-old Miles Gutierrez-Riley is the type of actor that doesn’t have to tell you he’s an actor. You see him at the bar or out in the streets and you know that face, that charisma, stays in front of the camera. Miles is the perfect balance of pretty-boy-fly and round-the-way-gworl. He’s a professional actor that isn’t trying to stump you in a conversation about Hollywood by name dropping an obscure black and white film that no one has ever heard of. Miles is all of us. He watches reality television, he was raised by a single mother, and he cries at the end of The Truman Show. He is from Long Beach, California and now lives in New York City where he recently graduated from Fordham University.
Miles talks to us about being a ‘Barb’, traveling to all fifty states with his mother, the politics of being Queer and more.
Full look, TEDDY VONRANSON.
What was your first acting role?
My very first [role] was one of the Wickersham brothers musicals, Seussical. I did it in [the] community theater. My first professional job was an independent film called The Moon and Back. I played this kid named Simon who was an AV Club nerd who had no friends.
Do you like musicals?
I like to watch them but I cannot sing at all!
What’s your favorite musical?
Natasha Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. I saw it on Broadway and I thought it was just incredible.
With your role in Amazon Prime’s The Wilds and On the Come Up coming out around the same time, do you feel successful or do you feel you’re still grinding?
Success is really relative. I definitely feel proud of where I’m at. I’ve always been very ambitious and every time I get to a new level I understand that level for what it is, and I have a better understanding of where I want to go next. I’m very happy with everything that I’ve been able to do thus far. I’m planning my next steps.
Are you an actor who likes movies and films, or do you go to work and go back home?
I definitely love it, I love it. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was four years old and obviously it is a job, but it’s my dream job.
Are you watching anything right now?
Not a ton right now (laughs) but I love Euphoria, I love Drag Race. I love reality TV.
There is a scene in the movie Set It Off where Queen Latifah’s character dies. No matter how many times I watch that movie with my cousin, she cries like she has never seen it before. Are there any TV or film scenes that get you like that? Like, no matter how many times you watch them, they get you emotional?
Yeah, I can think of two off the top of my head. One, is The Truman Show. At the end when Truman rams the boat into the sky.
Yes. When he realizes everything is fake.
Oh my god. [That scene has] a massive impact on me. I love that movie and I love that moment so much. I think about it a lot.
Especially today, it was almost foreshadowing, it was almost true.
I know, I know. That movie is fantastic. Another one is Riding in Cars with Boys. It has Drew Barrymore and Brittany Murphy. My mom and I watched it when I was young. I was raised by a single mom and that movie is about a single mother. [It’s] heart wrenching, tender, tender, tender.
Are you in the ‘Beehive’, are you a ‘Barb’, what’s the vibes?
(Laughs) Oh my god! I would call myself a ‘Barb’, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities and obligations. So, I don’t want to identify with a community that I can’t live up to the standards of – but I love Nicki. Yes.
Will Nicki Minaj ever be de-throned? It seems like she’s going to stay at the top forever.
Yes. I agree. It’s her resting spot.
Top, ICEBERG. Shorts, TEDDY VONRANSON. Socks, BOMBAS. Shoes, SEBAGO.
I watched a few of your scenes in The Wilds and your character starts off not fooling with Mother Nature. I’m wondering what’s your connection with Mother Nature in real life? Are you a hiker or you a biker, are you a glamper?
I do love nature, I love to go outside. I love the beach. Anytime I need to feel calm or free or have a little bit of fun I go to the beach. Random fact about me is that I’ve been to all 50 states with my mom over the course of me growing up. So I’ve seen a lot of the country on road trips.
Do you think it’s an obligation to come out as Queer?
That’s a tricky question. My impulse is to say no. I think that coming out and being out are two different things. Coming out looks different for everybody. I never had a sit-down moment necessarily. I just was dating girls one day and then was dating boys the next. That’s how it happened for me. Different people have different families and different situations that they need to move through in the way that is the safest and most empowering for them. In terms of living out – there’s no right or wrong way to be Queer. As long as you are accepting of yourself- whatever that looks like. Whether it’s participating in the culture, whether it’s listening to Charli XCX, whether it’s going to Pride or whether it’s just being yourself in a quiet and very intimate way. There’s no wrong way to do it.
So, have you ever been to a Pride parade?
I’ve never been to Pride in New York City because I’ve always been out of town, which is crazy. This year I’m going to be in town for it, which I’m excited about. Kind of feels weird to be so gay and such a New Yorker and never having gone to Pride, but whatever.
It’s interesting to hear you say that you never had to come out. I’m wondering if you can talk about a time where you felt unsafe as a Queer person in this world.
To be Queer anywhere requires a level of vigilance and awareness. There have certainly been moments even in the most metropolitan areas where I still feel like I need to, not hide any part of myself but definitely be aware of surroundings. I have been in places for work and for travel where I felt like there was not a very accepting culture or a visible Queer presence in the community. Not even necessarily in terms of like an element of danger being present [but] just the vibe itself felt exclusionary and that in itself can feel unsafe.
Full loo, MAISON KITSUNÉ. Earrings, TELFAR.
What would a challenging acting role look like for you? Something that you would really have to commit to.
I would love to play a role that has layers and is presented situations that go farther than just talking about being gay. I think sometimes [the] media can fall into the trap of [writing] a gay character and the whole point is that they’re gay. [I’d like to see] stories that don’t rely on that as the crux of the conflict.
Like Omar from The Wire.
I’ve never seen The Wire.
So, Omar was a guy who lived in the middle of Baltimore, in the hood, and there were these drug dealer wars going on, and Omar would rob drug dealers with a shotgun. He was a gangster and he was gay. He had a full-time live-in boyfriend. Omar’s story line doesn’t have anything to do with his Queerness, but he is gay and he is out. Everyone knows it, he’s not trying to hide it, however his storyline is focused on his business and the conflict of living as this Debo meets Peter Pan character. You have to watch it. It’s every actor’s dream role.
Do you write scripts at all?
I’ve written throughout my life. It’s hard to call myself a writer because I don’t always feel super driven to do it, but I do like to read and I’d like to push myself to do it more often.
I mean with the pre-recession we’re in I feel like everybody needs to gain a new skill.
Managing money during the pre-recession. Let’s talk about it.
Be frugal, be smart. Have fun, you only live once.
Can you tell us the last time you felt alive?
Walking around New York in the Summertime makes me feel so alive. I’m hot, sweaty, disgusting, gross, sticky, nasty. [Then I’ll] meet up with the gworlz at the bar and have a good time. There’s no better feeling.
**Watch Miles as Ivan Taylor on Amazon Prime’s hit series The Wilds and watch out for him in the not yet released film On the Come Up.