Pictured: Actor Kevin Daniels. Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright.

Pictured: Actor Kevin Daniels. Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright.

Growing up in Texas, Kevin Daniels recalls getting involved in sports at an early age, but not taking too much of an interest in it. When his friend took him to a slam poetry competition, Daniels knew that the dramatic arts were his calling. A drama school fair at Southern Methodist University in Dallas is what eventually landed him an audition at Juilliard in New York City, and the rest is history.

The 37-year-old actor, who resides in both Los Angeles and New York City, has built himself an impressive list of guest-starring TV arcs and supporting film roles since graduating from Juilliard’s Drama Division – Group 27 in 1998. These include an arc on ABC’s Modern Family and roles in Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Hollywood Homicide and Ladder 49.

Now, Daniels has scored the role of a lifetime as a main character on USA’s Sirens, the network’s latest sitcom, which revolves around the hilariously messy lives of three seemingly incompetent Chicago EMTs, who happen to be pretty decent at their jobs. Developed by Denis Leary (Rescue Me) and Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers), the series, which premiered in March, is loosely based off the British counterpart of the same name — starring Rhys Thomas, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Kayvan Novak — which aired its first and only season on the UK’s Channel 4 in 2011.

The outgoing and unfiltered Daniels portrays Hank, an out and proud gay man, who works alongside best friend and fellow Chicago Bears fan Johnny (Michael Mosley) and rookie EMT Brian (Kevin Bigley). The first season has primarily served as a comedic exploration of the three’s friendship and outside relationships, along with the ups and downs of dealing with the constantly stressful job. Oh, and there’s a ton of penis jokes.

“I love what I do and I’m really blessed and fortunate to have the job,” Daniels said via phone from Canada, where he’s currently working on a film. “I love Sirens, because if USA does it right, it could really do something for them. I think Leary and Fisher have a really, really funny show.”

Check out what Daniels told GALO about the importance of television’s portrayal of gay characters of color, who he’d like to see play Hank’s boyfriend if the show is renewed for a second season, and what we can expect from tonight’s season finale.

GALO: On Sirens, you play Hank, an EMT who happens to be gay and black. There doesn’t seem to be too many of these characters, especially series regulars, on scripted television. The only other one I can think of is Andre Braugher’s character on FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Kevin Daniels: I just love working on this show. How diverse they made the story is accredited to our writers. Bob Fisher and Denis Leary really want the show to look and feel like Chicago. They wanted to make something that was really funny and that could celebrate friendships. It’s a workplace comedy about these guys who work with human bodies. So yeah, it can be very crass. But it’s been cool to see it resonate with folks and [have them realize], ‘Oh, this is about what people do to get through; what they do to make it and what people’s friendships are.’ It’s been one of the greatest gifts I’ve had. Hopefully, USA will pull it together and give us another season. We’ll see.

GALO: A lot of actors say most of their roles are challenging and require them to go outside of their comfort zone. How comfortable have you become in portraying Hank, and what is the most challenging part about the role?

KD: Hank is a really great character. He’s an ex-military, gay, outspoken, quick, sharp-witted guy. Who’s also lovable and cares about his friends and wants to do well at his job. As an actor, for me, it’s kind of like, you have to figure out what the rhythms are and how you respond and listen to your co-stars. I’ve got an incredible f—ing cast. Mike Mosley and Kevin Bigley — I couldn’t ask for greater people to work with. We instantly gelled in our first audition.

GALO: What would you say is the importance of having gay characters of color on scripted television right now?

KD: I think it’s really important. I think people want to be represented. I think there has to be representation when you see yourself in television, films and theater. We’ve got a lot of different colors, a lot of different spices. I played another gay character on Modern Family. It was different, but I played Longinus. Unlike Hank, he’s more flamboyant, he’s a little more stylish, and he’s not into sports. So, getting a chance to play a different gay character, it’s fine. There are [different types of] gay people in the world [laughs]. I gotta love that we get to pull people into the 21st century.

GALO: You mentioned Hank is out, proud and outspoken. If Kevin Daniels and Hank happened to meet face to face, how do you think it would play out? Would you guys get along?

KD: Hank is like my best friend [laughs]. I think Hank would probably kick my ass, but it’s cool, I could hang with him.

GALO: What traits do you share with him?

KD: My mouth can get me in trouble; I can say things I shouldn’t say to people [laughs]. I don’t know which of those came first. I think it came first from Hank, because he speaks exactly what’s on his mind and he can’t quite hide his facial expressions. We actually coined this phrase on set. We would be asked to do a lot of things quickly because the schedule was very intense. It was four-day episodes. We would shoot two episodes a week.

Larry and company write in paragraphs, so you’ve gotta learn a lot of sh-t really quickly. Some days you were just uptight. We always had a great time. We love each other, we laugh and we have fun. But sometimes you just get tired and you just get mad, and you get a new director [for an episode] who wants to be like Scorcese, and you’re like, ‘This motherf— doesn’t know what the sh-t he’s doing,’ and add a little scowl. Somebody would look at me a little crazy, and I’d be like, “My momma used to always say, ‘Fix the face. Fix the face.’” I have problems keeping my face from betraying what I’m really thinking.