Raven-Symoné On Why She Declined the Offer to Make Her 'Raven's Home' Character a Lesbian
Raven-Symoné had reprised her role of Raven Baxter from That's So Raven in the recent Disney Channel spinoff.
Raven-Symoné is proud of her lesbian identity, but she doesn't feel the need to extend it to the characters she plays.
Speaking recently on the Pride podcast, Symoné recalled that when Disney Channel execs asked if she wanted her Raven's Home character, Raven Baxter, to be a lesbian, the 35-year-old actress shot it down.
"You know what, there was a conversation before the series started, and I was asked the question, 'Would you like Raven Baxter to be a lesbian?' And I said no. I said no. And the reason I said no wasn't because I wasn't proud of who I was, or I didn't want to represent the LGBTQ community in any way," she said on the Pride podcast. "It was because Raven Baxter is Raven Baxter is Raven Baxter." (Related: LGBTQ Glossary of Gender and Sexuality Definitions Allies Should Know)
It was important for Symoné, who came out in 2013 and married wife Miranda Maday seven years later, to draw a line between herself as a person and the fictionalized version of herself onscreen.
In Raven's Home (a spinoff of the original Disney Channel series, That's So Raven), Raven lives with her divorced best friend Chelsea, played by Anneliese van der Pol. Together, the women raise their children in a shared Chicago home. In the original series (which ran from 2003 to 2007), Raven had psychic powers, and in the spinoff, her son inherits her gift (which is, at times, also a curse). Symoné joked that her character's cohabitation with Chelsea was enough of a hint that no men would likely be in the picture. (Related: How Coming Out Improved My Health and Happiness)
"There was no reason for me to change the human that she was in order to fit the actress that played her," explained Symoné on the Pride podcast. "And Raven Baxter is a character that I was proud to play, even if she is straight, cisgender, I don't mind. Let her have her moment. She was divorced though, and I had no worries about saying, 'No boyfriends.'"
Symoné continued on the Pride podcast that she "didn't want to change" who her character was. "Again, when you really start blending your personal self with your character self, it's even harder. Like, I'm stereotyped for the rest of my life — let's just keep it 100. If you ever see me in another character, you see Raven Baxter and that's just what the deal is. And I think the one thing that differentiates me from her is now a lot more." (Related: Actress Mae Whitman Is 'Proud' and 'Happy' to Be Pansexual)
Still, Symoné admitted, she may have opened up about her sexuality earlier had she been given the room to at the time of That's So Raven.
"At the same time I was mad at myself because I could have embraced who I was a lot earlier, and made it a part of the conversation to kind of spearhead the whole entire diversity push," she said. "But again, during that time of the different sitcoms when I was younger and the first installment of the Raven Baxter character, you know, the talk of my personal life was never something I was allowed or comfortable to talk about. But it feels good to be able to do it now."