We love the return of a diva, especially when it’s Kim Cattrall. After pleasing the gays with Sex in the City and the reboot of Queer as Folk, she returns to the screen in Netflix’ Glamorous, just in time for Pride season. The show celebrates queerness and our community, centering on the life of Marco, a gender non-conforming queer youth on their journey to figure life out. Making a splash as Marco’s friend Dizmal, a drag queen who performs at the nightclub where the show is centered, is one of the top non-binary Latinx actors to watch out for this year, Damian Terriquez. Damian joins Drag Race luminaries Monet X Change and Priyanka, holding their own and often stealing the spotlight. New to the screen, this Hollywood newcomer has already had featured roles in Netflix’s That 90’s Show, HBO Max’s The Sex Lives of College Girls, and OWN’s All Rise, sharing their journey of embracing their true, non-binary self while redefining makeup and beauty standards for all. Not only are they having their moment on-screen, but they also taking over red carpets with their signature looks. WERK! This world traveler and multi-lingual activist has led a colorful life, belying their young age. Damian’s life already needs an on-screen treatment.
Born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Damian’s love affair with entertainment would blossom while they watched movies in the office where their mom had to work.
I would pick up a movie on my walk from elementary school to my mom’s office at Hollywood Video and we would return it at the end of the day before we went home. There were so many movies I watched in the back of that office. I loved the escapism of the early 2000’s superhero/fantasy/action- adventure movies. Van Helsing, Underworld, Elektra, and the original X-Men trilogy were all the pinnacle of what movies were for me at the time. Although I never thought I would someday get to be on the lots where those movies were made, let alone in front of the camera as an actor.
Damian is proud of their Latin heritage. Growing up in a Mexican culture tends to be laden with hyper-masculine norms thrust on the males of a family. Damian’s experience was unique and allowed them to explore who they were.
It wasn’t as machismo as it might have been had I been in a different pocket of my own family. By that, I mean that I was raised in a HUGE matriarchal family. My grandmother was the eldest of 13 siblings and as her grandson, I was afforded a certain amount of grace. Again, I was raised by a single mother and the majority of my family consists of women, so I have always been around feminine energy and sensibilities. Also, with a family as large as mine (my grandma being one of 13 and my mom being one of 9), there’s a certain strength in numbers where no one is ever the first to do anything so things hardly ever come as a shock. That being said, there are always two sides and some of my family that still lives in rural Mexico is not the most open-minded. But it’s been really great to see everyone come together and rally behind me and what I’m trying to accomplish with my career.
Damian’s identity would evolve over time, owing their self-expression to … shoes?
I always knew I liked guys. I remember so vividly having a crush on this boy named Michael in my pre-school and I was never really ashamed or bothered by it. I was incredibly lucky to be raised by the mom that I have and I think the only reason it took until I was 13 to “come out” is because I didn’t know I had to. The gender expression aspect of my identity now didn’t come until much later. I studied fashion and marketing in university and just found women’s clothing and design so much more interesting than that of the male counterpart. It was a slow exploration of what felt like me and what didn’t. It’s difficult to decide who you are in one fell swoop and even more so to stick with one definition of what you see yourself as for a lifetime. So again, I think it comes down to luck. I’m lucky that I have a partner and family who allow me to explore who I am and who I want to be. It also helps that I’m an EU size 39 [US size 7] in shoes so it was an easy transition to shopping in the women’s section.
It was a gradual exploration, and while we got there in the end, it all began with footwear. I started exploring with some low-heeled boots, almost like tango shoes. That then developed into growing my nails out little by little. And then I was wearing more interesting tops (from the women’s section) and before I knew it my closet was 90% clothing from the women’s section but it was just because that’s what I liked. It really all stemmed from wanting to wear what I wanted and not caring what other people had to say about it.
Damian comes from a younger generation where non-binary is an established term. The identity means something different for everyone, for them it means being free.
Sometimes the people who name things really hit the nail on the head. (To me) it means that someone doesn’t have to strictly be one thing or another. That how you choose to express yourself doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. And that we all live in a world of gray rather than black and white.
Damian’s transition from middle school to high school would be difficult. In a little over a year, they lost their dad to a massive heart attack (he was only 35). The family moved to Temecula, CA – far from the friends they had known since preschool. If that wasn’t enough, they were diagnosed with cancer at age 15, a misdiagnosis that would take weeks to resolve. Overcoming life’s obstacles, Damian would find their footing in the performing world. Damian was offered a place on the varsity cheer team after the coach noticed Damian’s skills in gymnastics. They would go on to theatre and dance, winning multiple competitive dancing awards, and being ranked in the top 10 dancers in North America. Wanting a jump on life, they completed high school in three years. In college, they would get their marketing degree with an emphasis in fashion, turning their senior year thesis into an actual business – Epicone, a gender-neutral clothing company. Not bad for a kid.
Part of Damian’s charm is their knowledge and understanding of other cultures. They volunteered to teach English in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In addition to English, they can speak Spanish, French, and Italian.
I think people could learn a lot when they allow themselves to go outside their bubble. It’s why I decided to learn French when I could just as easily have gotten an easy ‘A’ in Spanish. It’s why I chose to study abroad in London as opposed to Paris, because by that point I had friends in France and England was sort of the scarier option. I do empathize with Americans because it’s so expensive to go outside of the country. But the beautiful thing is that we live in a multicultural place where you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to Europe to learn about people who are different from you.
Dance and performing continued to play a part in Damian’s life and while studying abroad in London, they would audition for the Lion King and decide to focus full throttle on their entertainment career, going on to dance in music videos for Halsey, Tiesto, and Dillon Francis.
Did they ever think that identifying as non-binary would limit their career?
Absolutely. But it isn’t up to me if I get a role. Other people have to decide that I’m what they’re looking for. And I don’t know how long that’s going to take so I am not going to waste my own time. Before I started out, I was comfortable with the idea that it might take a long time to gain momentum. Luckily, I underestimated people and didn’t let that deter me from counting myself out entirely.
Their new show, Glamorous promises to delight as well as keep the queer conversation going, even in the face of our current political oppression.
It’s the most exciting thing! The show does so much in terms of queer, BIPOC, and intersectional representation, while at the same time not relying on that as a gimmick. This is a show about people who live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and the cast represents that. At the same time the LGBTQIA+ representation is just that, representation. These are people who have career goals and want to fall in love and make friends. It’s a show about a diverse group of people trying to make it in a cutthroat industry in a global city – which I can relate to. I want people to know that queer stories are still worth telling after the coming out part. I am grateful that those projects exist but I feel like we are at the next phase of the LGBTQIA+ storytelling.
Are Netflix audiences ready for a show like Glamorous?
I think so. If you look at the success of Heartstopper on the platform then it should be an easy comparison. But looking at the success of Sex Lives of College Girls on HBOMax and the lack of early adulthood shows out there right now, I think Glamorous would fit really well in the current landscape while also filling a void in the marketplace for young adults who are starting their first jobs or leaving home for the first time. That sweet spot of not being in high school or college anymore but also not feeling like a fully grown adult yet even though you’re out on your own.
In true Hollywood drama, their audition for Glamorous was, well, less than glamorous.
It was … interesting. Because of the pandemic, I was cast from self-tapes which I emailed in. But I got the initial audition while on a ship in the middle of the Irish Sea while on my way to Cobh. I taped the audition facing my room on a television while recording myself on my mom’s phone and acting “opposite” a friend on speaker phone acting as my reader. Oh, and I was in a bathrobe.
Everything that could have gone wrong trying to get the tapes sent over did. I ended up having to iMessage the videos to my fiancé so that he could WeTransfer the files to my agent so that she could email me if they were good to go so I could text him to submit them. But after it was all said and done, because of the time difference and daisy chain of communication, the tapes ended up being sent to the wrong studio and I was locked out of submitting for a while. It took a second but we convinced casting to accept them. Then we ended up submitting the same tape twice! Eventually they asked for the rest. A week later when I was back state-side the callback went much smoother and a week later they said I got the part. And I was off to Toronto!
Another scene for Damian’s life story as a series.
With shows like Glamourous showcasing lives that don’t fit the norm, and with the current political attack on the trans and non-gender conforming community, what do they want the world to know the most about the non-binary community?
I would love for people to understand that while we are a community, we are also individuals. Gender expression is a very personal thing and the circumstances surrounding one non-binary person do not automatically apply to the next. I know people think that might require a lot of effort but it just boils down to looking across at the person in front of you and seeing them; getting to know them, just as you would anyone else.
Despite a rocky high school start, Damian’s star has been on a journey of success. Despite the success, they never stray far from their beginnings.
Every little win is a mountain top. So many things have to go right for anything positive to happen in this industry that anytime I get a good news email, I’m elated. So far, my biggest personal victory has been to have navigated my career as authentically as I have. I’m surrounded by people who I genuinely enjoy, I work with charities that mean a lot to me, and I’m a part of shows that I can really stand behind.
And their message to the community this Pride?
This Pride, more than ever, the community needs to be vocal and remember what Pride stands for. Different aspects of the community are being targeted and I think that those with a platform have a responsibility to represent those who don’t. In terms of legislation, both proposed and passed, I think people who are lucky enough to be at a Pride celebration should remember and fight for those who are unable to share in the spoils of living in a liberal or progressive part of the world.
Watch Damian as Dizmal on Netflix’s Glamorous this Pride season
Follow Damian on IG: @DamianTerriquez
Last modified: July 8, 2023