In film and TV, LGBTQ characters are more prominent than ever. Representation of queerness has breached the gatekeepers of the mainstream with a fervor over the last handful of years. Breaking away from stereotypes of what gay and lesbian people are like, we embrace the visibility and absorb those characters like a camel to water. However, there are still many voices, faces, and stories that are missing when it comes to representing the spectrum of our community.
For transgender stories, the media saw a massive surge in 2014-2015 with TV shows like Transparent and movies like Tangerine. Trending lists and Sundance picks are now ranking titles typically sequestered to the LGBTQ section on search bars into the mainstream must-see lists. While opportunities for both stories that star trans characters are limited, and the roles offered to trans actors are few and far between, there is some narrative and awareness that this needs to change, as of yesterday.
However, when it comes to actors and characters who identify as nonbinary, there is still a severely underserved and untouched market. Gender is difficult for some to understand, especially how gender and sex are separate entities, and the need for differentiating pronouns outside of he/she is not part of the standard lexicon. Yet.
For actor Liv Hewson, who is a member in the ensemble cast of the upcoming Netflix queer Christmas rom-com Let It Snow, coming out as queer while on the zombie show Santa Clarita Diet was a no-brainer. Being LGBTQ in Hollywood no longer means an axe to one’s career, and while the show was cancelled after three season, it has now set the actor on a new path: forging the way of nonbinary representation in the next wave of stories we need to hear.
While Hewson has been out as nonbinary in their personal life since the age of 16, coming out in a public way is a more recent proclamation for the now-23-year-old.
“I’ve only started to talk about my gender identity publicly within the last year or so,” Hewson told Gay Star News.
“That wasn’t for any specific reason. I wasn’t quite sure how to; I wasn’t quite ready, and it’s been very gradual. Me being more expressive with my pronouns, that’s something that happens in very small steps. And that’s okay. You know, I’m figuring it out, and I’m happy that it’s something I’m starting to feel more comfortable with now,” they said.
The upcoming Let It Snow, to be released on Netflix on November 8, depicts LGBTQ folks on the screen and is cast with many folks from the queer community.
“There are several different love stories and holiday tales, and I get to play a lesbian, which is great. Lesbians have Christmas, too!” they said.
In addition to their lesbian character, the ensemble cast will feature also feature Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’s Kiernan Shipka and bisexual YouTuber Anna Akana.
Hewson is also in post-production for the film Under My Skin, to be released in 2020, in which they play a character who is questioning their gender identity. While questioning may be something that Hewson is beyond, bringing a nonbinary or genderqueer person to audiences is a way to educate and see the variance of people living outside the he/she binary.
“That’s part of the reason why we tell stories in the first place, to articulate different human experiences and explore how different things feel and look,’ they said. “Storytelling is about empathy in a lot of ways, so I think it’s very important to see as many different kinds of people on screen and in fiction as possible, and that includes nonbinary people.”