Dan Levy’s Serious Side

A peek at what the Convening Leaders 2022 audience has in store when the Emmy Award-winning writer, actor, director, and producer and LGBTQIA+ activist takes the stage in January.

Author: Michelle Russell       

Dan Levy portrait

Dan Levy, who will participate in a moderated Q&A opening session Jan. 10 at Convening Leaders 2022, raises awareness for many causes. (Jose Mandojana photo)

Emmy Award-winning writer, actor, director, and producer Dan Levy is best known for his work on the runaway hit comedy series “Schitt’s Creek,” which he co-created with his father Eugene Levy. The writer and actor is beloved for his particular brand of comedy — and for the work he does for the causes he cares about.

Among them is publicizing and raising money for the University of Alberta’s 12-lesson, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Indigenous Canada. When he took the course in 2020, he suggested in an Instagram post that his fans study along with him. “If 2020 taught us anything,” he said on Twitter, “it’s that we need to actively re-learn history. History that wasn’t taught to us in school. To better understand and contextualize our lives.” Around 64,000 people signed up.

Levy has also raised awareness of mental health, publicly sharing that he experienced extreme anxiety as a child and avoided social situations.

“I think that came from a deep-rooted fear of knowing that I was gay and not being able to be free,” Levy told Bustle. “By the time I got to high school, when your brain is starting to catch up to your physical impulses, it led to a very confusing time. Because on the one hand, you are now being introduced to things like self-awareness and anxiety. At the same time, you’re becoming more and more savvy when it comes to hiding it.” His escape was theater — he began writing, directing, and performing in school plays.

In 2019, Levy received GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award, presented to an LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting acceptance for the LGBTQ community.

This past February, Levy spent an hour chatting with Ryan de Kock, Boston University’s Queer Activist Collective’s outreach coordinator in an online event hosted by the university’s student activities office. “As a gay man, I wanted to tell a story that reflected the nuance of my own experiences that I hadn’t necessarily seen explored before,” Levy said about “Schitt’s Creek” during the conversation, recounted in BU Today. “For the sake of entertainment, sometimes [people’s] experiences get reduced or the edges get softened a little bit. So it was really important that the opportunity I was given be used for good… [and] I know my younger self would have really benefited from seeing that.”

“Through his work on-screen and behind the scenes of ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ Dan Levy moves LGBTQ visibility on television forward in humorous, compelling, and necessary ways,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, said in a press release when the organization presented Levy with the award. “By featuring and celebrating a pansexual character, Dan and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ are expanding representation of the spectrum of identities within the LGBTQ community in a way that other content creators should model. Dan has been such a powerful advocate throughout his career and continues to use his platform to uplift and inspire LGBTQ youth.”

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