“I’ve always been the type of person that just has a lot of confidence,” Terriquez tells In The Know by Yahoo, adding with a laugh, “whether it’s earned or not.”
The nonbinary dancer-turned-actor has just finished filming the first seasons of two big shows, but doesn’t take it personally if a part doesn’t go their way.
“I don’t think, ‘People don’t like me,'” Terriquez tells In The Know by Yahoo about being turned down for a part. “I’m like, ‘I guess I wasn’t the person.'”
That said, at 24 years old, Terriquez has, in fact, been the person for That ’90s Show, the Netflix reboot of the series That ’70s Show, which aired from 1998-2006. The actor is also among the stars alongside “queen” Kim Cattrall in Glamorous, a Netflix drama that follows a gender-nonconforming person who lands a job working for a makeup mogul, which is slated to arrive this spring.
And that person has meant the ability to bring Terriquez’s full self to the audition — and ultimately the roles themselves. As a Hispanic, first-generation, nonbinary, LGBTQ actor, Terriquez has been able to bring an intersectional voice to all of their roles.
On That ’90s Show, premiering Jan. 19, Terriquez plays Paolo, a hair stylist and sidekick who works alongside Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) at his hair salon.
For Terriquez, they say it was a “full-circle moment” to work alongside the Latinx actor. As the child of a single mom, Terriquez recalls watching a lot of TV, including the original That ’70s Show, in which Valderrama starred as the foreign exchange student Fez.
“I don’t know that anybody really had it in their vocabulary at that point to be like, ‘Oh, there’s not many Hispanic characters on TV right now,'” Terriquez says.
Looking back, Terriquez, whose mother is from Mexico, says it’s especially meaningful “seeing Valderrama and seeing what he did for my casting and community along the way,” adding: “I can only imagine what it was like back then.”
Diversity in Hollywood
“Back then” was definitely different. According to the 2021 University of California Hollywood Diversity Report, which measures diversity in various roles in film and television, “minorities” on scripted broadcast shows made up only 5.1% in the 2011-12 season, the report’s earliest reported season and a full five years after That ’70s Show ended. That number has since climbed to 23.2% of the lead roles in the 2019-20 season, which is still below the U.S. minority population of 42.7% in the same year.
Terriquez’s larger role on Glamorous is as Dismal Failure, a bouncer-emcee who’ll do “anything to get a buck,” and offers a great opportunity to explore the queerness of the role without having to be the sole representative of the LGBTQ community.
“Glamorous [is] such a queer show,” Terriquez shares. “It’s not just about one type of identity. There’s several people represented.”
The actor says they’re grateful as a performer that the film doesn’t just have one person “per category” on the diversity front.
“I feel like a lot of times, certain shows might use that as representation,” they say. “It’s like, ‘We have this one and then this one, and then this one, and then this one’ — where on our show, we have several ethnicities represented and several of the same ethnicity represented. So it’s not up to one person to be a representative of the entire community.”
From academia to dancing to acting
Before Terriquez began an acting career and danced alongside the likes of musicians Halsey and Tiesto, their original plan was to take an academic path.
“I’m a first-generation American, and the whole reason my family came over was to get a college education,” Terriquez says. “You know, the white picket fence idea of going to college and getting a business degree and then going to work.”
They even interviewed for a master’s program at the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
“I was getting ready for my Oxford interview, and [someone I know was] like, ‘Oh, are you so nervous because there’s not that many Mexicans in it?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m nervous because it’s Oxford, not because I’m Mexican.”
For Terriquez, that was a moment that raised their awareness about how underrepresented voices can be perceived.
And while that question caught Terriquez by surprise, what they don’t want is for people to get caught up in the statistics and hold themselves back from pursuing the life they want — a life that for Terriquez also includes an upcoming wedding to their fiancé, the actor Luke Lowrey.
“When it comes to being intersectional, like being LGBT and Hispanic or being first-generation and so and so, I think it’s really easy to get bogged down with the statistics to be like, ‘Oh, it’s so much harder because x, y, z.’ And not that that isn’t necessarily true,” Terriquez concedes. “But for me, I’d much rather focus on the things that I can control. I can’t control that I’m a statistic, but I can’t control how I approach it. And I think the biggest thing is doing things authentically.”
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