Sean Hayes on GLAAD Honor, Why He's Waiting for Gay Superhero "Pink Panther"

Sean Hayes - Publicity - H 2019
Andrew Eccles/NBC

The Emmy-winning actor says when he takes the stage to receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award expect more comedy than politics in his speech: "A lot can be accomplished through laughter."

Sean Hayes has a long history with GLAAD, but finding out that he was going to be an honoree at the organization's 30th annual Media Awards was a special moment. "I was floored. I was thrilled," says the Will & Grace star. "What they've accomplished over the decades is phenomenal and has changed people's lives."

Hayes, 48, will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for making a difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance — both with his TV character, Jack McFarland (he became the first actor to win an Emmy for playing an openly gay character in 2000), and with his personal platform. When he takes the stage March 28, Hayes says to expect more comedy than politics ("I think a lot can be accomplished through laughter") but that he's still fine-tuning his speech for the Los Angeles edition of the bicoastal awards event (the New York fete will be held May 4 and air on Logo).

Four years after the original series' finale, Hayes came out; he married partner Scott Icenogle in 2014. "I'm proud to be a gay man in the world today and to express myself in the way that I feel is the most powerful and in the only way I know how, which is making funny Facebook videos with my husband and showing the world that we're as normal as any other couple. It hopefully makes people who are struggling feel even the slightest bit more OK with themselves."

NBC's Will & Grace revival (also a nominee) has leaned into more serious topics with its second season, including revisiting Will's (Eric McCormack) coming-out episode and tackling gay stereotyping. "These kinds of stories are really important to tell for the next batch of kids learning about diversity," says Hayes. On a larger Hollywood scale, he praises the steps being made toward inclusion but offers one pitch for the big screen: "They finally had their first woman superhero and big franchise with Wonder Woman, and they finally had their first black lead in a superhero movie in Black Panther, and I'm just waiting for the Pink Panther," he says. "And I really, really hope they cast someone who is gay."

This story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.