Writer, actor, gay BFF to young Hollywood. NOLA-bred Rightor Doyle shares some of his favorite things to do in New Orleans.
Doyle is a 12th-generation New Orleanian and the creative mind behind “The Walker,” a comedic web series from lifestyle hub Refinery29 showcasing the life of a devoted “gay best friend” as he develops that role into a professional career. Doyle also stars – after all, the show is based on his own real-life story.
“You’re like a gay superhero” says one of his female clients in the trailer. All of his female companions share this sentiment as an adult, but Doyle says this character trait (and subsequent storyline inspiration) began during his early days in New Orleans. “I was a very good Robin to my brother’s slightly neurotic Batman,” he says. After coming out in college, that role became more impassioned towards his friendships of the opposite sex, though Doyle notes that “I think I’ve always had those kinds of relationships with women.”
At 18, Doyle left New Orleans to hone his acting skills in New York. He has appeared on Broadway and is known for the films Ruby Sparks, Young Adult, and the Upcoming Season of HBO’s Girls. Now a contributing editor to Elle Magazine and with a web series under his belt, Doyle is looking forward to upcoming developments as a writer/producer…and more trips to his hometown.
In the 10 or so years after he first left, Doyle says he would come back to visit but most of his time was still spent between New York and Los Angeles. Doyle admits he’s missed out on the significance of NOLA heritage as an adult, but recently, he’s been able to visit the city more often. As New Orleans (and Doyle) have picked up steam in the film industry, he continues to get back in touch with his roots.
“What’s happened here with the ‘Hollywood South’ renaissance is that I have become reaquainted with the very city I was born. Which is very similar to the idea behind ‘The Walker,’” Doyle says.
“He’s this person who facilitates other people’s needs, until he realizes that other people can reciprocate that feeling for him. So, it’s been wonderful to be back here and have other people show me my own city. It’s humbling and amazing.”
Fresh off the heels of one successful writing venture (with more in the works), Doyle finds himself needing a break from the everyday pressures to keep his imaginative resources flowing. To do so, he comes home to New Orleans for a month at the end of each year to hang out with family and do some creative work. “Creatively, it’s a revitalizing place to be,” he says. “There is no lack of inspiration in New Orleans. I feel quite free here to be myself.”
20 Questions with Rightor Doyle
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
My grandfather, Tommy Ellis. He was the truest New Orleanian I’d ever encountered and very much embodied the spirit of the city.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
My mother’s womb. [Doyle was born here]
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
I grew up in Uptown near Audubon Park, so it’s what I know and love. The Marigny and Bywater were always intriguing when I was younger but post-Katrina, they’ve become neighborhoods I am the most interested in.
4. If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?
Riding my bike around Audubon Park or up and down the levee. Visiting and walking around with my younger brother, Taylor, who now lives in the French Quarter.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
I love anything from Clancy’s. The traditions of New Orleans culture are very important to me and my family, and that applies to cuisine. I had one of the most epic meals of all time there. I can’t remember what I ate because I was absolutely drunk, but I do remember it lasted 4 hours and was one of the best meals of my life.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
7. What’s your favorite po-boy? Where do you go to get it?
Roast beef po-boy and a half shrimp/oyster po-boy. Domilise’s is the best in New Orleans. If anyone tells you different, then they’ve lost their taste buds.
8. You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
I usually start with Bourbon Street, just to get it out of their systems first. Then we go to other parts of the city that they haven’t seen on TV.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?
A Hurricane. For the atmosphere, I go to Pat O’Brien’s. I know it’s touristy, but I’ve never had a bad time there. For my sister’s birthday, I paid the dueling pianists to say her name in every song while we were there. It was the night of her life.
11. What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?
12. Best spot to see live music?
Frenchmen Street is great. Other than that, the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets is where you’ll find Tanya & Dorise, an amazing violin and guitar duo. On New Year’s while they were playing, my friend and Broadway star, Alysha Umphress, had the opportunity to randomly sing with them. It was such a great moment. It felt like those things that can only happen in New Orleans.
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
“Pre-jail” Mystikal. I still listen to him at the gym all the time.
14. Favorite New Orleans festival?
15. What’s your ideal New Orleans date night?
16. What are your favorite local shops?
Friend. In New York or Los Angeles most everything is accessible to me, but their curated experience is wonderful. I love the store and their taste. I always find something I love.
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
If I am in town during a game, I’m “watching” at my parents house, but I am really there to just eat Popeye’s.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
Dichotomous. I feel like there are two cities: the one people know, and the one they discover. A Catholic town with a hedonistic heart. There are also two versions of me when I come back to New Orleans. There’s “Cool Rightor” and “Fat Pat.” (Patrick is my first name.) Someone stop me from eating, please.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
Today and the past week that I’ve been back in town. Each time I come back to visit, I am more and more aware of the gift I was given by being born and raised in New Orleans.
Bonus Question: What’s in your New Orleans costume closet?
Tons of blonde, huge-haired wigs. My drag persona would be, without a doubt, Dolly Parton on a juice cleanse.
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