‘Chippendales, welcome’ Actors Quentin Plair and Robin de Jesús Talk ‘Dancing Bootcamp’ and Breaking Down Masculine Tropes (Exclusive)

Hulu’s newest drama series Welcome to ChippendalesThis is a fascinating exploration of the complex history of Chippendales’ male revue. It uses fiction storytelling to help contextualize and humanize the characters and the events that occurred during the rise and fall, and the founder of Chippendales, Somen. “Steve” Banerjee, played by Kumail Nanjiani (Marvel’s The Eternals, Silicon Valley). Ahead of the series premiere, PopCulture had a chance to speak with some of the cast, including actors Quentin Plair and Robin de Jesús, who play Chippendales dancer Otis and real-life Banerjee associate Ray Colon.

Notably, Colon was a real person who was involved in the story. Otis however is a fictional character and is meant more than to be another dancer. “Otis is based off a collection. It’s fictionalized, his story,” Plair explained. “I think it’s really telling, his story, because I think it mirrors, in a way, Steve’s story, both being others in this other culture. They both come into this thing that becomes a predominantly white event, and they’re both others outside of that. So I think how they experience these things that happen being on the outside in different ways, it is kind of a way to see through a looking glass how other cultures exist alongside these things for so long that are just primarily Caucasian, white-based events.”

De Jesús offered some insight into how he approached playing Colon, who is somewhat dramatized in the show. “Everyone’s roles have been fictionalized, really. So there is some stuff about my character out there, but I really just listened to spirit to be honest. I knew general stuff about him.”Then he shared.”A few months ago before I even booked the show, I had been taping myself for an audition and I did something and my posture changed. I was like, ‘Yo, who’s that? Who’s that character?'”

“I just started riffing off of that for months and months,” De Jesús continued. “Everything that I began to define when I got the audition for Ray was Ray. It was like I was downloading something for the future and I was like, ‘Oh, Ray’s the one that’s going to help me execute this.’ I was really interested in finding something tonally darker for me personally as an actor, but what really attracted me to Ray was his humanity. I felt like it was an opportunity to show two brown men who do terrible things actually be soft with one another and present in a way that men don’t usually get to present around other folks.

He went on to say, “This is how men should be with each other. Another thing that interested me was the idea of “How do you say sorry” and “How do you make it right?” That’s something I will explore in the series.”

(Photo: Erin Simkin)

Plair finally answered our questions about how he learned to dance for the role.” to get ready for playing Otis. “I have no dancing experience. I am not a dancer.” he said, then quipping, “I don’t consider myself a stripper. I have never done it before. Will not continue.”

Going on to share a little about the experience, Plair said, “It was inspiring. It was. It was just that I forgot to take it off the screen. I was there for two months, working hard every day, from Monday to Friday, in bootcamp dancing. I learned a lot of dance styles, including jazz, tango, and other types. The choreography was an important part of the dance, which involved a lot stretching and other such things.”

He added, “The whole process was very intense. I learned the choreography and performed it on rehearsal stages. Finally, I did the live thing in front of people screaming and watching.” Lastly, at one point in our conversation, Plair joked that his friends are not keen on their significant others watching him bare nearly all in the show. “I’ve got a whole group of friends chat.” he said. “They aren’t allowing their wives watch it. Yeah, yeah. They won’t. They are like, “Nah, we won’t let our wives see you that way.”Chippendales, welcomepremieres Tuesday, Nov. 22 on Hulu.

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