Gavin Lewis is a series regular opposite Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in Hulu’s upcoming drama series “Little Fires Everywhere,” based on Celeste Ng’s best-selling novel of the same name. You probably know him best from his lead performance on Netflix’s multi-camera comedy “The Prince of Peoria,” playing the title role of “Prince Emil.”
Outside of acting, Lewis is passionately involved in raising type 1 diabetes education and awareness, and he strives to lead by example and change what it means to live with diabetes. We sat down with him to learn more about living with type 1 Diabetes (T1D) while acting.
What’s it like to work on the set of Prince of Peoria?
It was so much fun on set! Everyone involved was incredibly nice, and it made it feel like hanging out with your friends and family every day rather than going to work. We got to do a lot of crazy things on the show like climb a mountain of BBQ sauce, crash through walls and ceilings, and work with a super-talented monkey and other animals. There was always something exciting happening.
What’s it like to be the star of a Netflix show?
It really just seems kind of unreal. My everyday life is pretty much the same with school, and chores, and hanging out with friends. But sometimes when I turn on Netflix to watch a show, I’ll see my face on there, which is pretty cool.
When were you first diagnosed with T1D and did that affect your acting?
I was diagnosed with T1D when I was six years old and I hadn’t started acting yet. When I began acting about four years later, I didn’t think too much about it. My parents didn’t let diabetes change what I could or couldn’t do. I even went to karate camp the day after I was released from the hospital. So I never really thought about it being an issue when I started acting.
How do you manage your diabetes on set?
Everyone on set has always been super supportive. Having my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor is a huge help and lets me keep on top of my blood sugar, so I rarely have to stop what I’m doing. I also have my mom on set and she helps watch my blood glucose numbers from the sidelines on her Dexcom Share app, and she steps in when I need help. Sometimes, when I’m really focusing on work, I miss the signs of low blood sugar, so having my mom there is super helpful. In six months of shooting Prince of Peoria, we only had to stop rehearsal once because of T1D.
What was your favorite on-set moment?
It’s not exactly “on-set” but my favorite day of the week when working on the show was Mondays. We would get together as a cast every Monday morning to read the script for the week, but it was way different from most table reads. Instead of just sitting in chairs or sitting around a table, we would do the whole episode on our feet with really hysterical props and sound effects. It was like doing a mini production of the script and getting a chance to try out the new material and jokes in a really entertaining way. We always had so much fun and it got every week off to a great start.
What advice would you have for someone who was recently diagnosed?
My advice to someone newly diagnosed with T1D is to focus on the positives and not let diabetes hold you back from doing what you enjoy. Focus on how diabetes isn’t going to change your life in a negative way and that it can actually help you be a healthier person. As long as you put in the work to be prepared, diabetes is something that you can live happily with. Something I wish I would have been able to tell myself when I was first diagnosed is that I wouldn’t actually have to have a shot in my stomach every time I ate. Unfortunately, the ER doctor told me this and as a six-year-old I didn’t know there would be other options for shots or that I could use a pump for insulin. The idea of shots in my stomach for the rest of my life was a little scary.
You are so young and already doing amazing work, what’s next for you?
I have a new project coming up soon that I’m super excited about. I’ve also had the amazing opportunity recently of being able to follow some television directors on set and learn about the different aspects of directing. I love acting but being behind the camera is definitely something I’m interested in doing someday.
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