HTGAWM Matt McGorry Covers BELLO Entertainment


On the cover of BELLO February 2016 Entertainment issue HTGAWM actor Matt McGorry photographed in Los Angeles by Maarten De Boer.

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TV star Matt McGorry stars in one of primetime’s hottest dramas. The explosive Thursday night thriller, How To Get Away With Murder. McGorry plays Asher Millstone on the ABC series; a privileged law student, who by way of his mouth gets himself into more trouble than he’d like to find himself in. In real life, as it happens McGorry’s offscreen persona couldn’t pale more in comparison. He’s a born and raised New Yorker, with the type of courage and attitude only New York City breeds. A New Age Renaissance man with every right to the title.

The 29-year-old actor, recently on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list sat down for a personal conversation with me, one outside of the countless storylines going on on his hit show. Having arrived on the Hollywood Circuit just three years ago, the Laguardia High School Alumni’s fanbase is rapidly growing. As is his platform, which he plans to carefully use in the right way.

You were born and raised in New York City. There’s the idea that being raised in New York is universally different. Would you say that it has shaped you as a person in any particular way? Does that idea resonate with you?

I would definitely say growing up in New York has affected me. Overall quite positively. Part of it is getting to grow up in Manhattan and another part of it is being fortunate enough to come from a family that could afford resources, like taking me to the theater. When I was very young, my family and I had a subscription to The Roundabout Theater Company. I think that’s the amazing thing about New York City, that you have all of these incredible resources with such close access. When I decided I wanted to be in Magician, one of the best magic stores in the country happened to be a couple blocks from my house. Or, when I decided I was interested in Self-defense, one of the best places to train for that was also not far from my home. I was able to attend Laguardia High School which is a really great school. So, for me, I think growing up in New York always helped keep my expectations very high. I never really had what can be labeled as “small town syndrome,” when you feel like you’re hot shit because you’re the best one. While attending Laguardia, I was always around people working very hard to succeed, so in turn that helped me grow to be very aggressive in my own pursuit.

You mentioned Self-defense. You also dabbled in Bodybuilding and fitness. What sticks out to you when you think back on that chapter of your life?

I mostly competed in Power Lifting, which is a sport where contestants attempt three types of lifts in a set sequence. I did one Bodybuilding competition at the end of my competitive career which was about four years long. The Bodybuilding show itself was very interesting, mostly because it was the last thing I did in that world in a sense, and definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a sport that requires your full energy and engagement, like, 24 hours a day. From sleeping and cooking. I was actually reading through some of my old training journals last night, and I think that even when you’re in it, you’re trying to make it through, so you don’t have the time to really understand how miserable you are [laughs].
You’re cooking all your own meals, weighing them out to make sure you have the proper amounts. You’re also carrying your meals around in tupperware, all of the time. This included Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, New Years. It was a miserable experience, But I’m glad I did it. My whole life, I always wanted a six-pack, the way I’d see it in the media portrayed all the time. The media makes it so appealing in a way that actually makes it seem more normal than it actually is day to day. During the time of the bodybuilding show, I was at my peak physical aesthetic, probably ever. I had beyond the six-pack, but interestingly, getting to achieve that and then realizing that it didn’t make me happy, was really useful to me because I was then able to let go of that expectation of myself.

What was that like for you? Going through that change.

It took time. After prepping the way that you do for something like that, your mind is screwed. You’re so used to being restricted both physically and mentally. It’s nice to now look back and say; yeah, I prefer a moderate lifestyle, and not having a six-pack. We’re not all built that way. One can do it, and I did, but it was’t worth the sacrifice that is required to do that. I wonder sometimes how long it would have taken me to figure that out If I hadn’t gone through that experience.

On HTGAWM, your characters been experiences some shifts from last season’s tone. What’s that like behind the scenes?

Some of the writers told me I had some big stuff coming up, but I always take that with a grain of salt because different things mean different things to different people. I’ve always learned to keep my expectations as low as they need to be to motivate me to do the work, you know? Imagining the work without luck on my side. Then if I get lucky, which I have, you take that, too. In that same way, I was enjoying what I was doing on the show already. I was sure I’d love what they had planned, but I was so content with where I was too.

That’s a very good and interesting way of putting it.

Yeah, it tends to be helpful! I think happiness, ultimately is where you’re at, minus your expectations, or vice-versa. The difference in those two, a lot of times can provide a lot of dissatisfaction, it can make people feel hopeless and like giving up on things. But with that being said, some of the work I’ve gotten to do this season has been the most demanding from me as an actor, and that’s wonderful! I very much enjoy the comedy of the show, but it’s also nice to have those moments that require your full attention. To get your mind in the game, in the sort of way that you’re able to lose yourself in the work, which is very fulfilling.

Your new film Ratter co-starring Ashley Benson is the biggest departure for you character wise on-screen. What can you divulge?

The script is great and the film is very creepy. It’s based on real occurrences. We live in a world where people could take over our devices and have access to our cameras. We shot it with all sort of devices, really lending to a natural style of performance which I really enjoy. The script itself gave so much to the character, so everything just came together naturally.

What’s changed for you since wrapping production on the film?

Besides my even heightened awareness of what woman go through, since shooting that film, I’ve since covered up my laptop camera. It doesn’t hurt and it offers me a piece of mind, when I’m picking my nose in front of my computer or something [Laughs]. Working on this film sparked more of a my interest in gender equality. In the film, there are guys hitting on Emma (Ashley Benson), and it’s supposed to be subtle, but it’s not. Just seeing what women have to deal with all the time, everywhere they go. It did a good job for me of putting me in the shoes of a female and seeing what that might be like.

On social media, you don’t shy away from voicing your opinions. Wether that’s Social or Political. The first time you posted something like that, we’re you scared of the backlash you’d possibly receive?

I’d be lying in saying I was fearless. And there are things, for better of worse that I would like to say that I probably shouldn’t. In this industry at least, there’s that tricky balance of choosing which battles you want to fight. My platform is due to the fact that I have a career as an actor. The idea of it getting bigger because I continue to work in the industry is a good thing, also because it allows me to level that with speaking about social justice issues. But I think going after every single thing, could ultimately cut me short in that.

But as a straight white man, who hasn’t had to call anything out in life, it’s a very new process of figuring out—when and where you don’t. It’s a privilege to be able to step into that space when I want to, and step out of it when I don’t. Which is what compels me to speak up about things. But I’ve been exploring that part of myself and figuring out that balance, while pushing my comfort zone with this platform that I’ve been given.

What’s been the most rewarding thing you’ve found from being so publicly outspoken?

It’s a very interesting balance because it shouldn’t be a rare thing that a straight white man speaks out about Gender or Racial equality. That shouldn’t be as rare as it is. Because it is, I do get a disproportionate amount of praise for saying the same things people of color and woman and trans people have been saying for a long time. I tend to get more credit for i,t or more notice for it. It’s an example of that privilege in action. So, that’s something I can’t help but feel guilty about, but I shouldn’t, and that doesn’t stop me from speaking out. In terms of rewarding, people expressing gratitude to me has been really wonderful and fulfilling. I get messages from people all of the time telling me I’ve encouraged them to speak out about things.

You posted a photo on your instagram of you reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander a couple a few weeks ago. The statistics on that post were insane. Is that generally the engagement you receive?

The New Jim Crow book is incredible, it’s about the Criminal justice system and how in turn it disproportionally effects people of color. That post was very live reaching. My parents were in Florida recently buying subscriptions to a theater company, bragging about me being their son, and someone there pulled out their own copy of The New Jim Crows book and told them he bought it after seeing my post on instagram. It’s like I have my own little media empire, my own little news channel and I can make it what I want to make it. It’s all really rewarding, and I’m looking forward to digging in some new ways to reach people.

The must’ve been quite the read?

The more I read, the more I realized how being white instantly makes you unaware of a lot of different issues, or being a man makes you unaware of certain issues. Getting to have these conversations with some of my straight white male friends is very fulfilling. They’re my friends because they’re kind and compassionate and intelligent. But people are perceptive, and unfortunately sometimes people in privilege have to hear things from other people in privilege, that’s sometimes the only way they listen or are more likely to listen. I think mobilizing more people like myself will put us one step closer to the world we all deserve.

You seem 100% opposite from your character in some ways. Is there any character on the show you’re the most like? And why?

I wouldn’t really say that I’m like any of the characters on the show, but everyone likes to view themselves as quite unique, so I’m not really sure, [laughs].

But I think if I were to have the chance to play another character, it would’ve been fun to play Connor. Just because I’ve never really played a character that’s confident like that. I think Asher’s perceived confidence is actually based in insecurity. It’d be interesting to play someone like Connor who’s very confident in what he does. He’s a cool guy, and neither Bennett or Asher have been cool guys. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only really been professionally acting for the last three years. So, hopefully I have a lot more characters to play with a lot more range to explore.



Story by Dio Anthony
Art Direction Dio Anthony
Photographed by Maarten de Boer
Grooming by Stephanie Hobgood for Exclusive Artists Management using Peter Thomas Roth
STYLED BY LISA CERA, THE REX AGENCY Assited by Aja Davis & Kenneth Crowder


About The Author

Stephane Marquet
Creative Director

First of all, excuse my French! … I was born in the South of France. Lived in Paris for 10 years and travelled the world until I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, because obviously recession was a great time to move to a new country! I also arrived around Halloween and was greeted at the Social Security offices by a nurse who directed to the window Number 6 so a witch could hand me my social security number. Welcome to America. I am a painter, a photographer and the creative director of BELLO mag.

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