Name: Nico Santos, 40
Who He Is: Actor
What he’s contributed: Nico emigrated to Gresham, Oregan, with his family from the Philippines when he was 16. He studied acting at Southern Oregon University, first gaining notice as a stand-up comic, appearing on talk shows like Chelsea Lately. From there, he landed roles on shows like 2 Broke Girls before playing Mateo on the hit comedy Superstore. In 2018, he also garnered notice for his hilariously over-the-top performance in Crazy Rich Asians. Out since the start, he brought his longtime boyfriend Zeke Smith to the red carpet premiere of Crazy Rich Asians.
View this post on Instagram
Happy Birthday to my amazing and gorgeous man @zekerchief! Your love has changed me in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I hope today brings you as much joy and warmth as you bring me and all those around you. Thank you for making me smile everyday and for holding my hand thru all the laughter and the tears. I love you. ????
Why We’re Proud: Queer Asians remain an underrepresented group in Hollywood, so Santos’ uncompromising contribution to visibility is a major breakthrough. He’s also used his platform to speak out not just for better representation of LGBTQ people of Asian descent but also called the greater acceptance gender non-conforming men.
The fact that I get to play a queer Filipino on television and another queer character in Crazy Rich Asians is huge. I never thought I’d have a career being myself. I always thought that being an actor in Hollywood meant that I would have to put that side of me on the back burner. A lot of times with queer representation, it’s always like the masculine or straight-passing characters that they want to put out there. First, it was broad stereotypes of sissy florists and hairdressers, and then it became straight-acting white guys. And now it’s really great to see the queer landscape really change to include everybody and make the rest of the world understand that gays are not one or two things.
What should Pride look like at 100, according to Nico Santos, as told to Queerty:
Fabulous android drag queens lead the parade and actual unicorns shoot glitter from their horns! I hope at Pride 100 that we remember everyone who fought in the battle to win our equality, is truly inclusive of the vastness of our community’s diversity. And that having to fight for our full acceptance would be a thing of the past.