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Of the 25 actors that have been nominated for an Oscar for playing an LGBTQ character, a grand total of zero of them have been openly queer. The debate on whether or not only gay actors can play gay roles has many sides and nuances. After Darren Criss, who is straight, won an Emmy for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Criss vowed he would never play another gay man because he didn't want to be "another straight boy taking a gay man's role." Actor Ben Whishaw, who is gay, feels otherwise. "I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn't be defined only by what we are," Whishaw said. Recently, Kristen Stewart also weighed in on some of the complexities around the issue.

Variety recently asked Stewart about the importance of gay actors playing gay characters. Stewart acknowledged the complexity of the issue. "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it's such a gray area," Stewart told Variety.

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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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