Photo Credit: Getty Images

Terry Hu is living out their dream—and the dream of pretty much anyone who grew up watching The Disney Channel.

That’s because, after getting their neuroscience degree from UCLA and considering a career in STEM, the 28-year-old actor decided to pursue acting instead, eventually landing their first major gig in Disney’s family-friendly, monster-filled musical sequel Zombies 3.

Not only did Hu’s role as the blue-haired alien A-Spen make queer history as Disney’s first live-action openly nonbinary character, but it also meant they got to film one of their very own iconic Disney Channel bumpers, announcing to the world, “I’m Terry Hu, and you’re watching the Disney Channel.”

Seriously, if you came of age in the 2000s, you can’t tell us you didn’t want to wave that magical wand and make mouse ears, too!

Well, Hu can say they did—and that was just the beginning of what’s sure to be a fantastic career. This month alone, they have a recurring role in Max’s political dramedy The Girls On The Bus, and make a key supporting turn in the raunchy teen rom-com Prom Dates, which just dropped on Hulu this past week.

With great now projects now streaming and to help us kick off Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, we invited Hu to the be the latest guest in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our conversation, the actor shares their funny and fun prom memories, gushes over their “mouse ears moment,” and confesses their childhood cartoon crush—that’s still going strong to this day.

Is there a piece of media—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, theater, video game, etc…—that you consider a big part of your own coming-out journey, or that has played an important role in your understanding of queerness? Why does it stand out to you?

This might be cliche now but…the movie Blue Is The Warmest Color had me in a sapphic CHOKEHOLD when I first saw it my freshman year of college, when I wasn’t fully out yet. Granted, I’d always known I was queer but had seen such little representation in media (other than on Tumblr, maybe…? does that count?), so to see an acclaimed film with queer characters that felt… real and relatable (i.e. messy/human) was so beautiful to watch.

I suppose, even though that movie absolutely broke my heart, it hurt so good because it was one of my first times watching a great, raw romance film that centered on a queer relationship. 

Your new movie Prom Dates is a comedy all about the chaos of—and the lead-up to—prom night. Did you go to prom yourself? If so, do you have any memories of what your prom experience was like—fond or otherwise? If not, what would be the theme for the prom of your dreams and why?

Yes, I did! I went with a guy friend since I was not out in high school (though if I’m being honest, everyone probably knew). 

A fond memory I have is being at school that morning wearing “soffe shorts” (they were ALL the rage back then) and a ratty Hanes T-shirt but then showing up at prom with this really nice dress my friends helped me find, and it was so amusing to see people’s reactions because I truly always wore such tom-boy/casual stuff, so it was nice to prove to myself (and others) that I could “clean up nice”. 

That said if I were to organize a prom today, I’d definitely “clean up” in a cool suit, go with my girlfriend, and maybe add a “funky” theme to the whole thing? Mostly I’d just love to have all my friends there and we can all sing to pop and make TikTok dances and play games and cuddle and giggle and cry happy tears <3 

You’re also currently co-starring on Max’s The Girls On The Bus, which has given you the opportunity to work with so many talented, experienced co-stars and filmmakers. What’s something you learned from that set that you’ve been able to apply to your career moving forward?

Okay firstly, YES to “so many talented, very seasoned co-stars and filmmakers” — I’m still so geeked I got to be a part of that show with such ICONIC people.

Though my scenes were mainly with one of my real life besties (!!) Natasha Behnam (who plays Lola), I got to hang a bit with the other wonderful leads off-set occasionally and something that stuck out to me is how well-balanced they seem; it’s clear they love their job as an actor, but it doesn’t seem to be their whole life. I think that balance helps them stay grounded, which I think also plays into their presence and performance on screen, so that’s definitely something I took away—to always try and keep a good balance throughout this journey; it’s not only good for your own mental health but also for your craft too. 

Where’s one of the first spaces you can remember that made you feel a part of a queer community?

Though I did have a handful of supportive best friends/allies in high school, it wasn’t until my junior year at UCLA that I really felt welcomed into my first group of entirely queer friends, which was SO exciting. They felt like home, they were chosen family..they introduced me to what felt like a whole new world at school and WITHIN the world, and also, within myself <3 

Who’s a fictional character you had a crush on at a younger age (or maybe still do!)? What do you remember loving about them?

Meg from Hercules—I mean, come on. And yes, that still holds true a.k.a. 100% would ask her to be my Prom Date! 

Thanks to your role in Disney’s Zombies 3, you got a chance to do the iconic “you’re watching Disney Channel” mouse ears move with the wand. What was filming that moment like for you? Was it harder/easier than you thought it might be?

Unreal —when I was a kid, I’d hear radio ads all the time about how “Disney is looking for its NEXT STAR!” and I would always try and convince my mom to somehow make ME that “next star”??

I don’t know what type of power I thought she had but point is, to be on Disney and/or part of a well-known DCOM and specifically, do the “wand thing” was like…THE dream, for any kid. So yeah, it was really surreal. That said, it WAS harder than I thought but I think the key is just fully committing and trusting the magic of it all to work out 🙂 

And, speaking of Zombies 3, there’s actually a doll modeled after you and your character A-spen. But, what we want to know is: if they were to actually make a Terry Hu doll, what 3 must-have accessories would the doll come with?

Oooo GREAT question. Lightweight cross-body bag (that has essentials: lotion, floss, gum, chapstick, etc), travel size chess-board, carabiner (if you know, you know). 

Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

Is it okay for me to say one of my best friends? Okay, I’m doing it — yes, you guessed it: Natasha Behnam!! Obviously, she’s currently crushing it as a lead on The Girls On The Bus right now but she also just booked another ICONIC show (lips are sealed for now) so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before you will have no CHOICE but to pay attention to her because she will be such a recognized actor.

But outside of that, I just think Natash as a person is so worth supporting because, in ADDITION to the talent and rising stardom, she stays humble and spiritually grounded and is also a supportive, authentic friend who is just a silly, fun kid at heart. She’s a beam of light and I’m so glad we are finally getting to see and support that light shining!!!! 

Terry Hu can currently be seen in the film Prom Dates, now streaming on Hulu, and the series The Girls On The Bus, now streaming on Max.

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