This year’s host of CabarGAY – Victoria Pride Week’s premier fundraiser – is Victoria-born actor Dan Payne.
“(He’s a) hot property on the Hallmark Channel, including leads in several movies and is the new leading man this season on W network’s top show The Good Witch,” says Pride Society board member Richard Lucas. “His connection for us, is that he was the heartthrob star in gay cult movie Mulligans which, coincidentally, was shot in Victoria.”
Released in 2008, Mulligans is a family drama in which Payne plays a closeted gay man who has an affair with his son’s best friend.
“It is still one of my proudest efforts,” says Payne. “It’s still one of those movies that I feel I connected with, (it was) lightening in a bottle. … And it seemed to speak and resonate with the gay community, as well as outside the gay community. I’ve had more email and more positive feedback from that film than I’ve had from anything else I’ve done.”
Payne and his family moved away from Victoria when he was still a toddler. The family frequently moved, following his father’s career in the coal industry.
“I think we counted 16 different houses until I moved out to university,” he says.
The moves led Payne, his brother and sister to form a close bond.
“My brother Josh and my sister Cathy are two of the most amazing influences and supports. We were each others cheerleaders and support – whatever was needed.”
The bond with Josh led Payne to Australia after his pro volleyball career ended.
“Like a typical athlete, I had no real plans for life. I thought I’d be young forever back then. When I retired, I called my brother and said, ‘so I’m done with the volleyball thing,’ and he’s like, ‘Cool, come to Australia, I’m building a company.’”
It was there Payne began acting and soon moved to England to further hone his craft.
“I found my way to a decent place in the UK playing – I like to joke – the big, dumb American, you know the guy in the army movie they give the big gun to, and tell him to yell ‘yee haw’ whenever he shoots it.”
With a bit of an education under his belt, Payne moved back to Canada, landing in Vancouver in 2001.
“The plan was to actually do all the falling on my face somewhere abroad where no one would ever know when I got home. It seemed to work out fairly well,” he laughs.
Recently Payne has earned notoriety with roles on Stargate SG1 and Battlestar Galactica.
“Hallmark has been my guardian angel,” Payne says. They cast him in All Yours with Nicolette Sheridan and A Time To Dance with Jenny Garth.
“For a completely different step I did a horror-thriller called Plateau and I’m really looking forward to seeing a cut of that because it’s really a pretty far departure from most of my recent efforts.”