Carrying with him the spirit of positivity, a confident smile and a colorfully flamboyant jacket, I met Yuval David on the streets of The Village, in front of the historic Bitter End. With a larger-than-life persona, Yuval became an instant life-long friend.
Using his talent, creativity and his phenomenal career, the Israeli-American actor, advocate, producer, content creator and speaker directs his efforts to evoke social change. With a kaleidoscope of television appearances, including CBS’ “Madam Secretary,” “Days of Our Lives,” “The Michael J. Fox Show” and the primetime series “What Would You Do?”, as well as film and Broadway credits, he “redirects the spotlight on him back onto causes and issues that will help to give rise to a better world,” which is also the title to his digital series featuring Mark Cuban.
The award-winning actor, host, film producer and advocate knows how to dive into the essence of the character he portrays. Aside from acting, he often narrates and creates YouTube content and performs one-person shows in theaters. He produces a slew of Web series and emcees various cultural, humanitarian, philanthropist, social and political events, including at the Israeli consulate in New York. He uses his vibrant personality and powerful convictions to bring forth social change, which has even allowed him to visit and speak on Capitol Hill.
You’re a busy guy.
I have this new HBO mini series that I was cast in. I have this indie film I was cast in, which has conflicting schedules, so that has to be figured out. I’m doing voiceovers for two documentaries. I’m producing almost a dozen of my Web series, three of which are filming concurrently now, because I thought maybe I didn’t have enough going on. I’m also a producer on a documentary feature, and in the meantime I’m auditioning and doing my speaking engagements. I have advocacy work, a film that I’m doing for the National LGBTQ Task Force… everything is happening now.
I’m exhausted just listening to your schedule. What are you going to do for World Pride?
During World Pride month, I have multiple speaking engagements, and I also have a dozen Web series that I am producing. Whenever I have a moment to create content, I’ll create content. So that’s whenever I am not in a film or a TV show or producing or directing. I have this one Web series called “One Actor Short.” It’s probably one of my favorites of my content. I go out onto the streets of New York, and I ask random strangers to play a role in a short film. In under 10 minutes I improvise a scene with them, direct them, so that it’s guided improv, and they have a role in a movie. So the last one I filmed had a whole LGBTQ twist. I really was hoping that it could happen, but with improv I just have to be OK with whatever happens. I don’t know who I’m going to interview. Then magic happened. I had this amazing trans black woman who was one of the random actors that joined (they are not real actors, just people off the street). I’m doing all of my speaking engagements and speaking on Capitol Hill and speaking in events here for World Pride, but my own artistic content got to have this whole LGBTQ theme. So I’m really excited about that.
You say that you identify with the trans community. Why?
There is something so inspiring about being trans and embracing the concept of being in transition, because ultimately we are all in transition. I just think we need more trans leaders, like people to be political leaders, to be the heads of organizations. They have created that safe space around them, they created that brave space around them, which is bigger than safe space, to be themselves openly, no matter what. Trans people face many challenges in our society, yet they continue to move forward on their path. That is very inspiring to us all.
You were on one of the most popular soap operas, “Days of Our Lives.” What kind of character did you play?
I played the French guy. When people saw me in the street, they would say “George!”, and all of a sudden people would start speaking to me in French. I don’t really speak French. I speak a little French; I can get by in the streets of Paris, but not when people speak to me with full-on French. All of a sudden I became one of the top young French actors in LA. Melora Hardin and Joely Fisher was doing a movie, and she needed a young French guy for the love interest. So, I went in to audition with a French accent. I had four callbacks, and then I got cast in the movie! They still didn’t know I wasn’t French. But that’s how I approach all of my characters. I live them, I love them. It’s the same with advocacy work: You’ve got to live it.
You take acting and turn it inside out, creating advocacy work?
I have the platform. The more successful I am as an actor, the more successful I am as an advocate.
The more successful I am as an advocate, the more success I hope to have as an actor. People used to tell me to change my name, because it’s too ethnic, but I would say, “That’s who I am.” Then when people found out I was gay, I started acting at a time when people said I had to fight that, because I wouldn’t be mainstream enough if I was out and proud. I struggled with that. It was a very challenging thing at first, in LA especially. I would only talk about it if I became friends with someone or if I felt the flow. If I didn’t feel the flow, I just wouldn’t. That was my foray into acting. I would hide everything. I used to consider myself the actor who could play anything. I speak many languages, I do every accent, and I would do these one-person shows where I would play completely different characters. It’s still wonderfully exciting. But I learned to embrace more and more who I am and what I bring to the world, why I should be cast in this role, why I bring something unique to the table because of who I am as a unique individual, and to proud be of that.
Most of the roles you play are straight roles?
I never thought about that. I did turn one of my roles gay. It’s in post-production now. I play the arch nemesis in this movie. His character is a lone wolf, he’s a hitman, but he does everything in a very stealth way, so nobody ever finds him. The lead role was played by this gorgeous, big, muscular guy, 6’4”, and here I am, 5’9”, and his hitman partner in the movie is this other giant guy. There is a part of this film where my character gets captured by these guys. The director was chatting with me while we were doing this whole prepping for the scene when he told me that they decided to add a scene, because I was killing each scene. He told me I took the character to a place that they didn’t expect and that the character became bigger than they expected. As an actor I thought, “Great, more screen time.” As an artist, I enjoyed the creative process of delving so deep into this character. They told me they wanted to have a scene where my girlfriend was captured. I told him that I really saw my character as gay. I told him I can change him, but I really saw him as gay. I saw a great opportunity, because so many gay characters are depicted as comedic or the sidekick, or like the woman who has the gay best friend. So I thought here is an opportunity where you have a character who you can enjoy already, and there’s nothing about his character that you enjoy because he’s gay. You can now ride the wave of what’s happening in the industry in terms of representation with a character who’s gay, but it’s not about him being gay. I totally pitched them on this, and they agreed. Then they cast a guy to be my boyfriend, and it was amazing to see how that was my character’s vulnerability. As tough as this character was, he still had love in his heart for his boyfriend. It made the character even more approachable, more likable, more lovable. And, I got to play a gay character.