(L-R) David DeLuise and Jennifer Stone as hosts of Wizards of Waverly Pod. Hayley Kiyoko with Selena Gomez on the set of Wizards of Waverly Place (Photo credit: PodCo/Disney)
Hayley Kiyoko’s Wizards of Waverly Place character Stevie has become an LGBTQ icon for many who grew up watching the series, but at the time, Kiyoko said she didn’t know she was giving off what she called “lesbian energy.”
She talked about her time on the show with Wizards of Waverly Place stars Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise on their PodCo podcast, Wizards of Waverly Pod. Stevie was added to the show as one of Alex’s (Selena Gomez) friends, and fans caught some of the vibes the two were sharing together. Stone, DeLuise and Kiyoko discuss how series head writer and executive producer Peter Murietta revealed that there were intentional hints thrown regarding a potential exploration of a queer relationship between Alex and Stevie. Ironically, Kiyoko said that at the time, she was still “in the closet.”
“I was just like, naturally very gay. I booked the role and honestly, I had no notion or thoughts that there was some kind of undertone or underlying storyline that was going on,” she said. “When I rewatched the episodes, I see that. The lesbian energy was really thriving at that moment. But I was in the closet to the public. You know, 2015, when I released ‘Girls Like Girls,’ that was like my coming out, which was years later. So I was just a baby Hayley in the closet at that time.”
She also talked about how she didn’t want people to know she was gay because she was afraid it could harm her chances of booking future roles. But, she said that as she started exploring music, she felt freer to share her experiences with her sexuality and felt allowed to be herself.
Watch the clips from the podcast below. The full podcast is available on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts.
PodCo is created by former Disney Channel star Christy Carlson Romano and her husband Brendan Rooney. The company’s slate of nostalgia-based podcasts include Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide hosted by stars of the Nickelodeon series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide Devon Werkheiser, Lindsey Shaw and Daniel Curtis Lee, and the Brotherly Love Podcast hosted by Joey, Matt and Andy Lawrence. Romano also hosts the Even More Stevens Podcast with fellow Even Stevens co-stars Nick Spano and Steven Anthony Lawrence. A Broadway and theater themed podcast is also in the works.