This interview comprises minor spoilers for Episode 9 of Season 2 of “The L Phrase: Technology Q.”
In its 5 years on air, “The L Phrase” introduced lesbian romances, drama and plenty of, many intercourse scenes to the small display. (One hundred eleven, to be exact, however who’s counting?)
However Jillian Mercado — the 34-year-old actress and mannequin who performs Maribel within the present’s reboot, “Technology Q” — by no means thought she could be in a kind of intercourse scenes. Rising up with muscular dystrophy, she hardly ever noticed bodily disabled actors on TV in any respect.
A Dominican American Bronx native who attended New York’s Style Institute of Expertise, Mercado started making her title as a mannequin back in 2014, when she landed her first advert marketing campaign with Diesel. Since then, she has signed with Artistic Artists Company; based an initiative referred to as Black Disabled Creatives; and joined the forged of “Technology Q,” her first appearing function.
Though the unique “L Phrase” notably lacked main characters who weren’t cisgender lesbians (or actually anybody who fell outdoors of the slender scope of straight, white beauty standards), the reboot, which debuted in late 2019, welcomed Mercado right into a notably extra numerous forged. And this season, as a romance blossomed between Maribel and Micah (Leo Sheng), Mercado bought to change into the type of character she needed to see when she was youthful.
“Intimacy and intercourse for the incapacity neighborhood was by no means one thing I actually ever noticed on TV till now,” Mercado, who makes use of a wheelchair, wrote final month on Instagram after her first intercourse scene aired in Episode 5. “My coronary heart is so FULL of gratitude that I’m able to say that I’m one of many first individuals to indicate you ways that appears like on nationwide tv, for thousands and thousands of individuals to see.”
Within the present, Mercado performs a sharp-witted lawyer who typically acts because the voice of cause, doling out recommendation to her youthful sister, Sophie, together with their mutual associates. However a extra weak aspect of her character is revealed when Maribel’s friendship with Micah, a transgender man, grows into one thing extra difficult. As Maribel and Micah sleep collectively and finally fall in love, it provides viewers a possibility to rejoice the 2 characters’ pleasure somewhat than spotlight their previous traumas.
“Actually, the one factor that we would like is for individuals to know that we’re human,” Mercado mentioned.
In a video interview from Los Angeles, the place “Technology Q” is filmed, Mercado mentioned queer courting and the significance of telling joyful tales about disabled individuals. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.
Have been you a fan of the unique sequence?
I really used to look at it beneath my covers after I was youthful as a result of my mother and father thought it was just a little too risqué for me to look at, which bought me much more curious.
Did you determine with any of the characters?
I don’t assume there was a selected individual that I recognized with. I picked components of each character. I imply, Shane was all the time such a badass; she was a troublemaker. Her plots had been all the time so chaotic and fascinating.
I come from a Dominican family, and we love drama. We love mixing issues up. So I all the time leaned extra towards her character. However I feel that everybody simply had a unique facet of what life is about. Every character highlighted the most effective and the worst qualities of the human expertise within the courting world, and particularly the queer world.
Do you assume the present has completed a superb job deepening its illustration of characters who aren’t white cisgender lesbians?
I imply, I’m on the present, so that claims so much! There’s not one particular technique to be queer, and that’s why “Technology Q” has been ensuring that everybody is seen and heard.
How did you incorporate your experiences as a queer, Hispanic particular person with muscular dystrophy into Maribel’s character whereas additionally being delicate to your personal boundaries and privateness?
My character — and my work basically — all the time feeds into my actual life and my private life. However what I’ve discovered, as I enter the grownup world, is to actually just remember to do take time for your self and ensure you’re aligned with what you consider in. However I additionally love being an advocate for my neighborhood, and I’ve been privileged to speak in my work about various things which were missing in my neighborhood.
You’ve talked about earlier than that seeing Aimee Mullins open Alexander McQueen’s spring 1999 present in customized wooden prosthetic legs was formative for you as an aspiring mannequin; had been there any actors on the massive or small display who gave you an analogous second of inspiration?
I feel the one illustration the place there was with somebody who had a bodily incapacity was all the time in a hospital. It was all the time very medical, like, “Save this particular person from no matter their incapacity is.” However we’re not simply all about medical units or medical conditions. We’re a lot greater than that. And on tv, if there was illustration, it was all the time performed by any individual who didn’t have a incapacity. And their narration of what I used to be watching was not even remotely near my lived expertise or to what most disabled individuals stay.
Maribel’s intercourse scene with Micah is one in every of few TV intercourse scenes involving a bodily disabled particular person; what felt essential to remember as that scene was developed?
The writers of the present had been wonderful and so communicative about what would make me really feel comfy and what was most essential for me. However I do know that I’ve by no means seen a intercourse scene with somebody who is definitely disabled, onscreen. And I used to be excited as a result of I used to be like, ‘Oh, I get to do that for thousands and thousands of people that’ve by no means seen it.’ However it additionally type of damage me that that was a actuality.
Yeah, it’s scorching, and naturally it’s “The L Phrase,” so every little thing seems to be wonderful and exquisite, however for me, it was a lot greater than that. It was having the dialog that’s such a taboo for individuals who have disabilities, the place individuals assume that we don’t exit; we don’t have relationships; we don’t have intimacy with anyone, as a result of they assume that no person will ever love us as a result of we glance completely different or we stay life in another way. All of us have alternative ways of being intimate with one another, and simply because ours is extra visibly completely different, it doesn’t make it less-than.
Maribel’s relationship doesn’t blossom with out friction, however her romantic plotline is notably wholesome and constructive this season. Why do you assume the writers went in that path with Maribel, versus the difficult (and typically very messy) relationships that the present often creates?
It’s actually particular to have a narrative line the place it’s not messy and never chaotic — as a result of belief me, I like a superb chaotic second, however I’m a sucker for a love story. I’m such a hopeless romantic. I additionally assume that as a result of Leo is trans and I’m disabled, that’s already a narrative line in itself. Individuals can simply really feel like these are simply two individuals who actually love themselves, and it doesn’t should be messy as a result of possibly society views them as messy.
What would you wish to see subsequent in your character?
Maribel is such a powerful, boss character, so I’m curious to see the place she goes as a result of that is the primary time that she’s actually let her guard down. She’s been damage so many instances. However she’s such a cussed, decided individual that I’m curious to see if she’s going to be the one to mess it up. I do know Micah is the sweetest character on this present, so there’s no means that he’s going to do something like mess that up. However I really feel like Maribel may.