Zach Barack on being Marvel's first openly transgender actor
Zach Barack who will be seen in Spiderman: Far From Home opens up on being Marvel's first openly transgender actor
Washington DC: Fans will soon be witnessing a new face in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as actor Zach Barack is making his debut in the upcoming film 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'. Variety spoke to the newbie as he prepared to watch the finished movie for the first time at the Hollywood premiere.
"I'm kind of losing my mind a little bit, but I'm acting like I'm not. I don't know that it fully has [sunk in]...I don't quite have the capacity to explain how meaningful it is to me," Barack said.
Although DC recently introduced its first transgender superhero on TV with Nicole Maines Dreamer on The CW's 'Supergirl', and Marvel featured Aneesh Sheth's openly trans character Gillian on Netflix's 'Jessica Jones', the move to cast Barack was still an important one, a move that the 23-year-old actor said was fitting in light of his own connection to comics.
"I'm not by any means an expert on comics, but I read them growing up, you know, and they were important. And there's something very inherently trans about those stories, especially ones where identity and hidden identity is part of them. For example, Peter Parker's journey [in Spider-Man: Homecoming] is a lot about balancing being a teenager and having this other part of your life," he explained.
"And that is just so trans, it's something that I absolutely think I've felt on a daily basis sometimes - especially being a transmasculine person because sometimes there's a pressure to be a different way than I feel naturally inclined to do because I want to fit in, and I have to actively fight that instinct," he continued.
In the upcoming Marvel film, Barack plays Peter Parker's classmate, a friend of the superhero who gets caught up as mysterious forces create mayhem worldwide.
The newcomer was actually planning to spend summer break working at a local Chicago restaurant. Instead, he landed the role of a lifetime, getting the call to audition for 'Spider-Man' just two weeks before the movie began filming.
Since news of Barack's casting broke in January, he has received a lot of appreciation from the industry. Barack says it's been an "honour" to receive such positive feedback, adding that he also feels the responsibility of being part of this important movement of LGBTQ representation.
Barack said that watching Laverne Cox star in 'Orange is the New Black' was an important experience for him as a transgender person and as an actor. He also reflected on what it was like for him growing up without seeing trans representation on screen, "I don't think I actually saw like a person that I consciously knew was actually trans in any form of media until was like maybe 17, 18."
"Before that, the only thing I'd seen was 'Boys Don't Cry,' which not only doesn't have a trans person in it but is a really brutal story and the prospect of coming out wasn't super exciting after seeing that. When I saw these messages of other people sort of being like, 'it's really meaningful'...I remember I cried the first time I saw one of those because I remember wanting to write those," he recalled.
In addition to the representation of trans characters, Barack said the increased exposure of the LGBTQ community has also been powerful.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and producer Victoria Alonso have previously said that they are planning to incorporate more LGBTQ representation in the Marvel universe.
'Spider-Man: Far From Home', which also stars Tom Holland, Samuel L Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Zendaya, hits the big screens on July 2, this year.
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