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Nonbinary Actor Damian Terriquez on Industry Representation

Authentic queer, trans, and nonbinary representation is needed in the media because feeling seen can affect how you view yourself and your confidence moving forward within the world. If you see real people and beautifully written characters that feel similar to you, you gain inspiration and role models that show you that you can not only exist, but thrive in the world the way you are.

EveryQueer got the chance to speak with actor Damian Terriquez (he/they), a nonbinary, Latinx actor who is helping to pave the way and be a part of much needed representation. Their next project is the Netflix show, Glamorous, which follows a gender non-conforming, queer man in his new job working for an incredibly important person in the makeup industry.

Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

Performance Beginnings

Terriquez began their love of performing after being in a high school theater production. They met the dance team through there, ranked in competitions, and auditioned for roles throughout college. After college they got a position as a Production Assistant on Sex Lives of College Girls

Terriquez says, “that was the show where I really learned how this runs and…saw how each department works.”

They’ve been interested in the industry for a long time. “I love film and television,” says Terriquez. “I think it’s so cool. And especially talking to the other crew people that work on so many cool things…somebody had a Batman hoodie, and I was like, ‘oh, that’s cool. Where’d you get that?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, I worked on it.’ That’s amazing. I think I’ve always wanted to. I really like storytelling.”

Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

Advocacy and LGBTQ+ Representation 

Along with getting to fulfill their passion of storytelling and performing, Terriquez is happy to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and a part of the much needed queer and nonbinary representation in media. 

“I work with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. I have since I was a sophomore in college. So now being able to work with them, and do some things that are more on the ambassador side…that’s so cool.” 

Regarding trans and nonbinary representation in the industry, Terriquez says, “I feel really lucky. I have been welcomed with open arms, I did a panel for Warner Brothers a couple of months ago. It was at the Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center. The whole point of the discussion was about how to get trans and nonbinary people into the industry, either in front of the camera, or behind the camera. 

A lot of the other panelists had obviously been doing it a lot longer than I have, and had been a part of an industry that was a much different landscape than it is right now. And so…they had a different experience. I was just really happy that I was able to be a different voice in that space to make it seem maybe a little less scary, or show, you can be welcomed with open arms.

A lot of the things you hear are from an industry from, maybe five or six years ago, and that is very different from the industry today. Even post COVID, I think that changed a lot of things for people in terms of exploring their own identities or where they want to be. They spent a lot of time with themselves.

And so I think being able to, to be a voice for that for the idea that it can be easy. I’m really grateful. I think that’s super cool for people to maybe get to see and just be like, ‘oh, you know what? I’m less scared now. And I can just try.’”

Hope for the Future 

“I was so trepidatious about getting into the industry, thinking, ‘is there space? Are there enough roles?’ So now being able to do it, seeing the roles that are coming out now and having access to seeing and thinking that in maybe five or six years the industry is going to look even more different than it does now, and I’ll get to be a part of that…is really cool. Maybe I could make it easier for somebody else that comes after me.”

Terriquez hopes to see the industry continue to grow in its diversity within its cast, crew, and stories. “I think we’re getting there,” they say. 

Terriquez is excited about their new show Glamorous, because “there’s also a lot of representation from the same community. There’s not just one nonbinary character, there’s not just one Black character, there’s not just one Hispanic character. So it’s really nice to not feel like all of a sudden the whole pressure of representing an entire body or letter in the community was on your shoulders. 

Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

To continue off of that, I think the more roles you have, and the more projects that you have, you’re able to share that weight a little bit more evenly. As a community, you want to feel represented. If there’s not enough projects made, then you can’t feel represented because part of one project might capture you, but then the other one kind of leaves you out. I think it takes an entire body of work or an entire industry to make people feel represented. 

Queer people have all these different experiences and it’s not just one type of thing. So to have different shows and movies and projects that are showcasing different different lives and different just lived experiences is great.

Of Glamorous, Terrqiuez says, “I think a big aspect of the show is gender. My character is nonbinary, but the main character is gender non-conforming. The subtle nuance of pronoun conversation is there. The main character, while being played by a nonbinary actor, the character goes by he/him pronouns, and then my character goes by they/then pronouns. We’re both very similar, but then we’re also both very different. So, being able to see that and the fact that it’s on Netflix, which has such a crazy reach.”

Advice for Aspiring Trans and Nonbinary actors

“[There’s] no better time to do it than right now. I think one of the biggest things is being as confident as you can be. I still struggle with it now. But even still, I wear my little stilettos out to get groceries.

I got this really great advice from my husband. He was like, ‘people don’t want to care.’ I have had to let go of a lot of things. If I think that someone’s looking at me, I don’t try to make it a thing. Or I’ll say, ‘did you need something?’ And a lot of the time it’s a compliment. They’re just like, ‘oh, I like your shoes.’ 

And so I try to lead with that. When I was working crew, I would wear monochrome and lavender with some little highlight. And at the time, I was in charge of watching the construction guys build the sets. And I remember one day, I didn’t wear it for whatever reason. I didn’t feel like getting ready. And they were like, ‘Hey, can we talk to you? We just wanna make sure you’re okay. You’re not dressed the way you normally dress.’ I was just lazy, it’s fine. It was sweet.

Trying to lead as authentically as possible, whatever that means to people. Because I think people don’t want to try to care…people don’t want to make you feel bad. Some people do. But those people aren’t worth your time.

Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

I think in terms of the industry, I’ve met people all along the way…and everybody’s really nice.

But you know, it’s all a give and take. And so, I think you just have to lead with how you want to present and want to be received as well. 

There’s the golden rule and the platinum rule. Treat others how you want to be treated. And then the platinum rule is to treat people how they want to be treated. I think that goes both ways.

Glamorous comes out on Netflix on June 22nd.

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