Alia Shawkat is Bisexual: “Arrested Development” Star Casually Comes Out

Feature image via Shutterstock

All I’ve ever wanted is for Alia Shawkat to come out as queer and for someone to ask anyone in a serious interview if Portia de Rossi made them gay, and today I got both of those wishes! Out interviewed Shawkat about her new film, Paint it Black, which apparently has some super weird queer overtones, and since they were talking about queerness anyway Shawkat just went right ahead and came out. She says she was a tomboy growing up and her mom asked her if she was into girls or boys and she just didn’t know yet. But hey: “Now I consider myself bisexual, and I think balancing my male and female energies has been a big part of me growing as an actor.”

This is my favorite question, though.

Did working with Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development help shape your identity?

Portia started dating Ellen DeGeneres during the show’s first three seasons, and I’d met her previous girlfriend, but I think my influences are more from growing up in Los Angeles and being exposed to lots of gay artists.

But that doesn’t mean Arrested Development didn’t shape her queer career! This new movie she’s in, Paint It Black, is about the wackadoodle relationship Shawkat gets into with her dead mother’s boyfriend. The film is Amber Tamblyn’s directorial debut, and Tamblyn met Shawkat through her husband, David “Tobias Funke” Cross. I’m only telling you this so I can relay the anecdote Tamblyn gave Refinery 29 about casting Shawkat in the Paint It Black.

“I went to a Korean spa in Los Angeles, and I saw her there, butt naked, and I was butt naked, and she was like, ‘Hey, I read the script [you sent me]!’ And I was like, ‘Hey, let’s have a general meeting together, naked, in a hot tub. So it was kind of love after that point.”

Stars! They’re just like us!

Paint It Black brings the number of Shawkat’s queer roles to six. She played Ilana Glazer’s doppelganger lover on Broad City. She played gender-flipped Alexander Hamilton on Drunk History. She played gay in Clea DuVall’s The Intervention. She played gay in May in the Summer. And she was obviously in love with Ellen Page’s character in Whip It.

It’s always very heartening when celebrities come out. Visibility is endlessly important.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Yay, I’m so glad to count her among us! She’s really talented. She first pinged me as probably-queer in that movie The To-Do List, which I highly recommend to anyone who reads this site, and then that newer season of Arrested Development kind of confirmed that suspicion with how she carried herself.

    I really recommend her TBS show Search Party – kind of a gut-punch of a existential millennial Nancy Drew story, if those words can all be used in the same sentence.

    • I’d second the recommendation of Search Party. I’d agree with that description and add it’s kind of gay too(has a gay male character on the show).

    • looool did not envisage that I would tag an actual person, but hey, non alia shawkat alia, if ur cute u can call me too

  2. I thought it was obvious after seeing that episode on Broad City.. also Korean spas are awesome and it would be awesome to meet someone that way haha

  3. P.S.:


    **sprays gay confetti everywhere**
    **gives you a cat to pet and a dolly parton album to listen to**

    • Oh my gosh, C.P.! Thank you! I didn’t realize! I noticed I was getting close and thought, “I should writing something special for that.” I’m so glad it turned out to be this!

  4. There are so many queer women in Arrested Development, considering there aren’t many women on the show generally. Portia obviously but also Patricia Velasquez, Jane Lynch, Ione Sky and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Welcome Alia!

  5. I somehow thought this had already happened forever ago. I have this vague memory of there being some series of photographs of queer celebs, and she was one of the subjects maybe, I don’t know, something something, I forgot.

    • I also thought this had happened. Like, when Ellen Page came out, there was something about her “queer good friend Alia Shawkat. Maybe I dreamed that, like the time I dreamed they were remaking Hairspray with an all-lesbian cast.

      Alia would make a good Penny Pingleton.

  6. Heather!!! A++++ reporting the hard facts. This is the news I’ve been waiting for.

  7. Hallelujah praise be.

    I mean, it makes sense.

    Alia Shawkat = Ilana Glazer

    Ilana Glazer = Bisexual

    That’s just basic math right there

    • now for my personal dream of Ilana being just as poly IRL as she is in the show/ her marriage being open & being a cute lil triad with Alia

  8. I thought I already knew this somehow, but when I stopped to think about I realised I had no idea and this is news and oh my exciting news.


  9. Great news! (would be more accurate to describe her character in The Intervention as bi though)

  10. I have always felt since this interview that Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat dated and kept it on the down low. Their posturing, body language, and verbal communication reads 100% like a relationship. Not to mention they were slated to play opposites in a lesbian werewolf film.

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