When NBC’s Friday Night Lights returns to NBC on May 7, primetime TV will welcome the return of another lesbian character to the airwaves via Stephanie Hunt‘s Devin Boland, the quirky musically-inclined out Texas teen. As the small Texas town reacts to the opening of East Dillon High and what it means for their football teams, Devin’s friendship with Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) grows and she continues to branch out in a bid to find other out teens.
AfterEllen.com caught up with Hunt to discuss playing gay, her upcoming role on Showtime’s Californication and making “female empowerment” music.
AfterEllen.com: How much did you know about Devin when you auditioned for the role?
SH: When I auditioned for the role, all I really had was the sides. The scene that I did, I knew that it needed to be a strong character because it was critiquing Landry’s music and calling his bulls–t, and that she was a freshman coming in to audition for his band. I knew that I needed to show strength in the audition, but I wasn’t told until after I did my callback that [Devin] was going to be a lesbian, which I thought was fine. I don’t have a problem with it at all. I didn’t know that part when I auditioned. On the set, I definitely had to realize that part of it.
AE: What sort of feedback have you received about your character?
SH: I’ve had a few fan letters saying that they really respect me and are happy to have a strong [lesbian] role model in a drama series on TV where it’s sometimes not represented.
AE: How did you prepare to play Devin?
SH: I walked into the mind space of a person that I felt like I could connect to on the basis of needing to say what you are and not holding anything back based on other people’s judgments. I could see [not holding back] in a lot of things, including myself, my peers and what I believe in. I just felt like playing Devin was channeling that but in the form of showing somebody that you’re gay or telling them that part of yourself. That’s not very well addressed in the media.
AE: Why do you think there are so few lesbian characters on TV?
SH: I think it has to do with the mindset of some people. I think that sometimes people have irrational fears and some people fear homosexuality, which I don’t think is rational because it’s just another expression of somebody’s way of feeling.
AE: For viewers without DirecTV, what’s in store for Devin during Season 4?
SH: Devin continues to live in a small town in Texas and she’s still feeling a little alienated by that but accepting in the way that she wants to continue life as a positive thought on hope. She has more friends, more experiences with girls and tries to branch out and find people like herself — people who understand.
AE: What’s going on with Season 5?
SH: Season 5 — they’re calling it an extension of Season 4, but it just began filming and I have been working on it a bit. There will be more growth and change in the town and dealing with graduations and moving on, friends leaving and staying and all the changes that come with that.
AE: Is Devin going to be dating anyone?
SH: Not that I’m aware of yet.
AE: Any fun anecdotes from the FNL set?
SH: I always like shooting our band scenes because I really enjoy the chemistry between Caleb [Jones, who plays Jimmy], Jesse [Plemons, who plays Landry] and I because we are friends in real life and we do all like to play music. It’s always sort of an adrenaline rush when you put together the music and our actual dynamics come in to play quite a bit. It’s a great set where you can feel free to do what ever you feel like you need to do.
AE: You also sing and play bass guitar. Do you have any plans for further pursue music in addition to acting?
SH: I am working on both because I love both so much. I’ve always loved acting and playing music. I started playing violin when I was 5 and I taught it for a little bit before I got the part on Friday Night Lights. I started writing songs and I have a few bands that I play in. I’m usually recording with them when I’m in Austin and then I go to L.A. for acting. Hopefully there will be a time when they will combine. Actually, there has been a time when they have combined: I have this Californication part coming up and it’s to be a musical part.
AE: Who are you playing on Californication?
SH: I play a rebellious girl in a punk band that’s based on The Runaways. It’s an iconoclast kind of girl and I like that kind of girl.
AE: Will you have scenes with Madeleine Martin (Becca)?
SH: Yes, Becca is going to be friends with her and she’s going to be playing music with her.
AE: What else do you have coming up?
SH: Just continuing my projects with The Ghost Songs, which is the band that I’m in. I also sing with a soul band called T Bird and the Breaks. I’ll go on tour with them. I also started a project with a friend of mine, Jazz, a few weeks ago, it’s female empowerment sweet melody kind of music and we just sing little doodads. We’ve been in the studio, too.
Friday Night Lights debuts season 4 on NBC tonight.