IN CONVERSATION WITH ZANE PHILLIPS
Actor Zane Phillips had his breakout roles in the CW series ‘Legacies’ and the Searchlight feature ‘Fire Island’. He can be currently seen in the new Netflix series ‘Glamorous’ which premiered on 22nd June.
Zane, you’re starring in Netflix’s new comedy series ‘Glamorous’. Tell us more about your experience on this project.
Essentially, I had known about the show through friends for a little while. From the get go, I was extremely excited about it. Jordon’s vision of a tiny little queer utopia really appealed to me, especially having come off ‘Fire Island’, which changed the way I saw myself in a professional setting. I think that sort of affirmation became a common theme amongst the cast, especially as we started getting closer. The community on-screen started to inform the community we were forming as a group of artists and vice versa. Everyone’s highest priority was to tell this story and so that ended up creating a refreshingly ego-less environment. We all like to talk about eating lunch in Benny’s trailer together every day, but I think it’s the perfect encapsulation of how much love and adoration there was amongst the cast.
The series is a LGBTQ+ comedy. How important it is to see a series representing the LGBTQ+ community on our screens and in the industry?
One of the questions I think we are really having to ask ourselves lately is why representation is important to us, especially as multiple corporations have proven unable to give meaningful support in the midst of this new wave of anti-queer sentiment. And to me, this sentiment has always taken the same form, has always used the same words. Namely, it’s fine if you’re queer, just don’t force it on the rest of us. It’s hateful language, but it’s couched in a sort of faux-generosity. There’s this rhetoric that we should be grateful that they would even allow us to be ourselves in private. So in terms of representation, what I want to see is queer people living unabashedly public lives and creating a living, thriving community.
Our message is that being queer is something to be lived and celebrated in every aspect, which is why I think a workplace is such a wonderful setting for something like this. We get to see the intersection of identity and the professional, public-facing persona, and we see how they are not in opposition.
In ‘Glamorous’ you portray Kim Cattrall’s son. How was it working with her?
Kim is an absolute force. She brings her expertise into every moment of her work, which I think inspired the rest of us to make sure that we were all bringing our A games. That’s the beauty of pairing someone with such a storied career with some of us who are a little newer to the game. Plus, when someone comes in with a sense of confidence, they can also bring in a sense of play. Those days were always my favorite.
How would you describe your breakout roles in ‘Legacies’ and ‘Fire Island’ changed your life and career?
What I love about my career so far is that I’ve been able to explore some very different worlds, from the intensity and self-seriousness of ‘Legacies’ to the sexy wryness of ‘Fire Island’. I think I’ve come to understand that what I want from my career is constant challenge or at the very least, constant change. If people can look at me doing a character and say “Hey, I didn’t know he could do that”, then that would be my ideal.
We would love to hear how did you catch the acting bug. Was there a defining moment that pushed you into this career direction?
I spent my adolescence in a small town in Texas, where the biggest ambition one could hope for was playing college football. Opportunities in acting were few and far between, but we did happen to have a pretty good community theater. Big ups to Fredericksburg Theater Company. I got roped into doing some shows because they always needed boys. My junior year however, during a production of ‘Man of la Mancha’, which has an absolutely brilliant score by the way, I came to understand theater as something more than just a fun thing to do with friends. It resonated with me, allowing me to access emotions that small town conservative values had taught me to suppress. I knew nothing about acting as a career, but I knew I wanted to follow it as far as it would take me. I suppose I’m still kind of at that point.
Which moment in your career would you say was the most defining one so far and why?
Honestly the pandemic put a lot of things in perspective, as I imagine it did for pretty much everyone else affected by it. So much of my life was defined by waiting for somebody else to give me opportunities. Over the course of that period, I learned that I would have to make those opportunities happen for myself. It essentially taught me how to be ambitious. Of course, I am indebted to so many people since that time, but I have been far clearer in my own mind about what I want to accomplish and how I might go about it.
You’ve always been drawn to the study and preservation of endangered languages. What makes this something you are so interested in?
I think in the process of growing up, especially in the society that we do now, we develop a hyperawareness of our planet’s impending loss of biodiversity. Or at least those of us who grew up watching a lot of Animal Planet. Come middle school, I was taking Latin and I found myself with an aptitude and a passion for foreign languages. From there it just became a fascination with linguistic diversity, an extension of biodiversity in a way, and then language preservation. I do think that art has a place in solving many of our crises and I think this is no different. It’s something that I attacked with typical undergraduate zeal, but I do still hope to be an advocate down the line, in any way that I can.
You’ve done quite some theater plays before acting in TV and film. Can you share some of your fondest memories from your time on the stage?
I do have to shout out the ‘Outsiders’ here, which somewhat recently ended its run at La Jolla Playhouse. I had been part of the developmental process for quite some time and I have to say I have very rarely experienced a director so insightful and incisive as Liesl Tommy. Theater at its best is a collaborative exploration, a soul that is dug out through 20 to 30 people approaching a text with every fiber of their being and experience. Liesl led us through incredible discussions on masculinity and class, spoken through the text. It remains my fondest theater memory and we didn’t even have an audience.
Besides acting, what are some of your other biggest passions in life?
I love to bake. To the point where my sister and I have spent objectively too much time making a pristine gingerbread estate complete with a lake and greenhouse.
After ‘Glamorous’, what’ next for you? Any projects that you can share with us about? What are your dream roles and projects for the future?
Well, first priority is getting through the strike, ideally with the WGA getting what they deserve. And then after that, I think I just want to find something different. When it comes to dream roles, my answer is always different. Let me do action, let me do fantasy, let me be a young Benoit Blanc in a flashback in ‘Knives Out 3’.
interview by JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
ralent ZANE PHILLIPS @zanethan
photography CULLY WRIGHT @cullywright
styling CHRISTIAN STROBLE @christianstroble
groomer ANNA BERNABE @heyannabee
styling assistant JACK WILSON @jach_w
producer SAXON TROBAUGH @saxont
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja