If you’re looking for a fun series with a deep meaning and an even better cast, don’t look any further than Glamorous. The latest Netflix production, which premiered last week, tells the story of Marco (Ben J. Pierce), a gender non-conforming character with a dream of conquering the beauty industry. The show artfully portrays the genuine challenges faced by individuals, particularly those from marginalised communities, as they strive to make their mark in the industry. The spectacular actor bringing sassy Chad to life is Zane Phillips, who discusses the values of the series and the experience he had while being on set.
Glamorous isn’t just any old show; it’s a game-changer, breaking the mould, and daring to challenge societal norms, all while shining a spotlight on the authentic experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. “We are sort of removing ourselves from that heteronormative gaze,” he says, giving audiences a front-row seat to the genuine lives and fabulous interactions of queer individuals.
Phillips isn’t the only star in this constellation — in particular, the iconic Kim Cattrall. Cattrall brings her legendary talent to the screen, playing none other than Madolyn Addison, Chad’s dazzling mother. With such a Hollywood heavyweight in the mix, the excitement is palpable. “The show is built around veneration towards this character of Madolyn Addison, and none of it had to fake that,” explains Phillips when asked about his relationship with Kim. “The mutual respect and the sort of fear that you come interaction with, you’re like, ‘Nah, this is real.’” Chad follows in the footsteps of his superstar parent, carrying the torch of their illustrious legacy while forging his path in the glittering world of showbiz.
The series hits right in the middle of Pride Month, adding an extra dash of fabulousness to its impact. It’s all about inclusivity, acceptance, and celebrating the beautiful tapestry of stories within the LGBTQ+ community. It shows both fun and seriousness — something Phillips takes to heart. “I do think what people are going to see is the reality of these characters,” he explains. “I hesitate to use the term stereotypes because I think that term can often be weaponized against queer people. Everyone wants us to be something. What I love about this show is that you get to see people move in and out of cliché, and then something else happens, and now this character has so many more elements to that. For me, as a gay person, I spout clichés all the time. I’m like a walking Twitter thread sometimes. So, there’s an element of reality to that, and I think the beauty of our community is that we can operate in these very different ways, whether they are shallow or deep. That’s something that we had to do for a really long time. It’s how you survive and how you get by.”
Phillips has dedicated a great deal to portraying Chad in the most playful yet intelligent manner. “It was important to me to play both the humour and the competence because he is a really competent salesman and I think we sort of see that throughout the show,” he states. “He gets distracted but when he’s on his game he’s on his game. The script really reflected that. I had to make sure that everything that I was saying I said with most confidence because sometimes salesmanship is not about selling the right product — it’s about no matter what the product is, you sell it right.”
Upon analysing Chad’s behaviour, it becomes evident that he has faced significant challenges. Despite appearing to have everything under control, there is undoubtedly some form of underlying trauma that has shaped his character. “The way Madeline comes across in the show is like she has had a hard time of it too. She has clawed and scraped her way to where she is. And so, for Chad, he feels intense pressure to be that person for his mother,” he says.
To prep for Chad who is, undoubtably, a very good-looking man who’s going to draw your attention, Phillips got to work. “Physically I knew that I am going to be shirtless a lot so to talk in a vainer sense, I knew I was going to have to be on it in terms of working out and eating and all that, which is hard with a full schedule for 4/5 months and having long days. I would get home from set, and I would have an hour until the gym close, so I had to rev myself up and you just go.”
When questioned about the similarities between himself and Chad, Phillips states, “What motivates Chad is trying to live up not only to expectations of his mother, but to the society around him and this idea that you grow up without a father figure at all, and suddenly you take it upon yourself to be that person. To be as strong and as well-rounded, and as accessible as you can be because you feel the responsibility of taking care of your family. You’re making sure that you are representing yourself right in the world around you that’s something that I certainly feel. I feel an intense pressure to be everything for everyone and again it’s something that we grow up sort of internalising because we don’t feel like the world is going to support us otherwise, so we have to support ourselves.”
Taking on the role of Chad, particularly the process of preparing for it and immersing himself in the character, has provided Phillips with numerous lessons and personal insights. “I think I learned to just trust in myself and in my abilities a little bit more. It’s an ongoing process, but I think so often we miss that we are in a safe, supportive space while we’re in it. We are so careful in our everyday lives, we’re so suspicious, but we’re vigilant. There’s a hyper vigilance to being queer. A lot of times, that means that you spend more time worrying about how you show up instead of just enjoying the fact that people want you there and people support your talent, and people want to see more of you. There was just such an outpouring of support from within the house, so to speak, that I think that’s something I’m trying to take more into my life.”
As evident, Glamorous transcends the realm of entertainment by making a positive impact and offering valuable growth opportunities for the cast. The show fosters deep friendships among the actors and imparts invaluable life lessons. It successfully strikes a harmonious balance between light-heartedness and thought provocation. “We were obsessed with each other. We would eat lunch in each other’s trailers every single day,” Phillips explains when asked about the cast and the camaraderie they developed throughout the four-month production. “Over Labour Day, we all rented a lake house for the weekend together. It was just so special. The group thread is still going strong. That was super healing for me to be around so many people who cared about the work and everyone cared about each other.”
In terms of its audience, Glamorous stands poised to leave a profound imprint on the television landscape. Through its commitment to authentic representation, captivating storytelling, and embrace of the full spectrum of queer identities, the series represents a significant leap toward achieving genuine LGBTQ+ visibility. In particular, Zane Phillips has the desire that individuals will glean a valuable lesson from his work: the importance of not taking oneself excessively seriously. By encouraging a light-hearted approach, Phillips seeks to inspire people to find humour and joy during life’s challenges.
As for his future, the sheer creativity with which he portrayed the character of Chad has instilled a sense of great optimism. Audiences can find themselves fervently hoping that Phillips’ exceptional performance will serve as a catalyst, propelling him toward remarkable achievements in the acting world. The hope is that his portrayal of Chad will open numerous doors, leading to an array of exciting opportunities where he can further showcase his talent, versatility, and captivating presence on-screen.
Glamorous is streaming now on Netflix.