Jillian Mercado on ‘Generation Q’ and the Importance of Joyful Stories

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This interview incorporates minor spoilers for Episode 9 of Season 2 of “The L Word: Generation Q.”

In its 5 years on air, “The L Word” brought lesbian romances, drama and many, many intercourse scenes to the small display screen. (One hundred eleven, to be precise, but who’s counting?)

But Jillian Mercado — the 34-year-old actress and mannequin who plays Maribel within the show’s reboot, “Generation Q” — never thought she can be in a type of intercourse scenes. Growing up with muscular dystrophy, she not often saw bodily disabled actors on TV in any respect.

A Dominican American Bronx native who attended New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Mercado started making her identify as a mannequin again in 2014, when she landed her first advert marketing campaign with Diesel. Since then, she has signed with Creative Artists Agency; based an initiative called Black Disabled Creatives; and joined the cast of “Generation Q,” her first appearing position.

Although the original “L Word” notably lacked main characters who weren’t cisgender lesbians (or actually anybody who fell exterior of the slender scope of straight, white magnificence requirements), the reboot, which debuted in late 2019, welcomed Mercado right into a notably more numerous cast. And this season, as a romance blossomed between Maribel and Micah (Leo Sheng), Mercado obtained to become the type of character she needed to see when she was youthful.

“Intimacy and sex for the disability community was never something I literally ever saw on TV until now,” Mercado, who makes use of a wheelchair, wrote last month on Instagram after her first intercourse scene aired in Episode 5. “My heart is so FULL of gratitude that I am able to say that I am one of the first people to show you how that looks like on national television, for millions of people to see.”

In the show, Mercado plays a sharp-witted lawyer who typically acts because the voice of purpose, doling out recommendation to her youthful sister, Sophie, together with their mutual friends. But a more susceptible facet of her character is revealed when Maribel’s friendship with Micah, a transgender man, grows into something more sophisticated. As Maribel and Micah sleep together and in the end fall in love, it provides viewers a chance to have a good time the 2 characters’ pleasure somewhat than spotlight their past traumas.

“Honestly, the only thing that we want is for people to understand that we’re human,” Mercado said.

In a video interview from Los Angeles, where “Generation Q” is filmed, Mercado mentioned queer dating and the significance of telling joyful tales about disabled people. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.

Were you a fan of the original series?

I really used to observe it below my covers once I was youthful as a result of my mother and father thought it was slightly too risqué for me to observe, which obtained me even more curious.

Did you establish with any of the characters?

I don’t think there was a selected person that I recognized with. I picked components of every character. I imply, Shane was at all times such a badass; she was a troublemaker. Her plots were at all times so chaotic and fascinating.

I come from a Dominican family, and we love drama. We love mixing things up. So I at all times leaned more towards her character. But I think that everybody simply had a unique side of what life is about. Each character highlighted the best and the worst qualities of the human experience within the dating world, and particularly the queer world.

Do you think the show has achieved a great job deepening its illustration of characters who aren’t white cisgender lesbians?

I imply, I’m on the show, so that claims loads! There’s not one particular way to be queer, and that’s why “Generation Q” has been ensuring that everybody is seen and heard.

How did you incorporate your experiences as a queer, Hispanic person with muscular dystrophy into Maribel’s character whereas also being delicate to your own boundaries and privateness?

My character — and my work generally — at all times feeds into my actual life and my personal life. But what I’ve realized, as I enter the grownup world, is to essentially just be sure you do take time for your self and be sure you’re aligned with what you consider in. But I also love being an advocate for my community, and I’ve been privileged to speak in my work about completely different things which have been missing in my community.

You’ve talked about before that seeing Aimee Mullins open Alexander McQueen’s spring 1999 show in customized wood prosthetic legs was formative for you as an aspiring mannequin; were there any actors on the large or small display screen who gave you an identical second of inspiration?

I think the only illustration where there was with somebody who had a bodily incapacity was at all times in a hospital. It was at all times very medical, like, “Save this person from whatever their disability is.” But we’re not simply all about medical units or medical conditions. We’re so much more than that. And on television, if there was illustration, it was at all times performed by any individual who didn’t have a incapacity. And their narration of what I was watching was not even remotely close to my lived experience or to what most disabled people live.

Maribel’s intercourse scene with Micah is one in every of few TV intercourse scenes involving a bodily disabled person; what felt essential to keep in thoughts as that scene was developed?

The writers of the show were wonderful and so communicative about what would make me really feel comfy and what was most essential for me. But I do know that I’ve never seen a intercourse scene with somebody who is definitely disabled, onscreen. And I was excited as a result of I was like, ‘Oh, I get to do this for millions of people who’ve never seen it.’ But it also type of damage me that that was a actuality.

Yeah, it’s sizzling, and naturally it’s “The L Word,” so all the pieces appears to be like wonderful and exquisite, but for me, it was so much more than that. It was having the dialog that’s such a taboo for people who’ve disabilities, where people think that we don’t exit; we don’t have relationships; we don’t have intimacy with anyone, as a result of they think that no one will ever love us as a result of we glance completely different or we live life in a different way. We all have completely different ways of being intimate with one another, and simply because ours is more visibly completely different, it doesn’t make it less-than.

Maribel’s relationship doesn’t blossom with out friction, but her romantic plotline is notably wholesome and positive this season. Why do you think the writers went in that course with Maribel, versus the sophisticated (and typically very messy) relationships that the show normally creates?

It’s actually particular to have a narrative line where it’s not messy and never chaotic — as a result of belief me, I like a great chaotic second, but I’m a sucker for a love story. I’m such a hopeless romantic. I also think that as a result of Leo is trans and I’m disabled, that’s already a narrative line in itself. People can simply really feel like these are simply two people who actually love themselves, and it doesn’t need to be messy as a result of perhaps society views them as messy.

What would you like to see subsequent to your character?

Maribel is such a powerful, boss character, so I’m curious to see where 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. But she’s such a cussed, decided person 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 show, so there’s no way that he’s going to do something like mess that up. But I really feel like Maribel would possibly.

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