Actor Kevin McHale plays AIDS Activist
Bobbi Campbell in ABC's miniseries When We Rise.
The 7-part miniseries from Gus Van Sant
and Dustin Lance Black takes a look at the people and events that
shaped the modern LGBT rights movement. It premiered Monday.
The 28-year-old McHale is best known
for playing Artie Abrams for six seasons on Fox's musical dramedy
He talked to Hollywood Today Live
about attending a private screening of the miniseries with veteran
activists at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
“It was very emotional and heavy
being in the room with all those people,” McHale
said. “Even if they’re not portrayed in the show, the
community was still involved in the movement, so little places would
come up on screen and people would be cheering, and people would be
booing at certain characters. I think it was the best way to
He also talked about playing Campbell,
the 16th person in San Francisco to be diagnosed with
Kaposi's sarcoma, at the time a proxy for an AIDS diagnosis.
“[Campbell] was a trained nurse, so
he was very vocal about [AIDS] and was really trying to figure out
what was going on,” McHale said. “And he wasn’t living in shame
and hiding it. A lot of people were really scared, but he was sort of
living out loud with it and trying to be an activist.”
Campbell was a co-founder of the People
With AIDS (PWA) Self-Empowerment Movement. The best known example of
a continuing PWA group is AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT-UP), a
powerful voice in forcing politicians and other leaders to
acknowledge the AIDS crisis.