The coronavirus pandemic has put many things on holdbut has also led to creative output from individuals who may not otherwise have had time to produce such projects.
Such is the case with Juan Pablo Di Pace, an out actor/singer/dancer who is originally from Argentina but who took over U.S. screens on such shows as Fuller House and Dancing with the Stars ( which had arguably one of its most controversial seasons ever when Di Pace, who many thought would win, ended up in fifth place ).
Now, Di Pace is the creator, star and director of Minutiaea YouTube series in which he plays Tomas, a neurotic but optimistic Hollywood actor who deals with the little things in his life. Among others who have appeared on the series are Ariana Savalas ( the daughter of Telly and who co-stars in the the LGBTQ-themed episode "Promise" ) as well as Fuller House co-stars John Stamos and Andrea Barber.
Windy City Times: You were congratulated for coming out last year. It made a big splash with some people. What has the feedback been like from your family and the public?
Juan Pablo Di Pace: Well, the press loves to tell when people come out of the closet. It wasn't so much coming out of the closet; it was saying the words in a public arena. I've never really been in the closet since I was 19.
I just wanted to make things personal; I wanted to talk about my journey to help those who have to deal with acceptance and even bullying. But my family has known for 20 years, as well as my friends and everyone who's important in my life. It was more of a situation in which I didn't feel it was necessary for my career, because I'm a private personbut then I was, like, "Why not?" You could say it was a professional first, on my side, but there was no shame or angst anymore. So I thank everyone for the congratulations, but it wasn't this situation where I was [sings "Ahhh"] saved.
WCT: And what do you think of the school of thought that only LGBTQ actors should portray LGBTQ roles?
JPDP: Oh, it's preposterousit's rubbish. I'm against any kind of stereotyping. When you're an actor, you're supposed to work the muscles of getting into someone else's shoes. That's the whole point of being an actor; you can embody someone else besides yourself, and that includes nationalities, sexualities, cultures and even gender. Cate Blanchett once played Bob Dylan [in the film I'm Not There].
I understand it, especially with trans actors because they have really been pushed and pulled. But with gay actors, I feel that if you're good enough for the job, then you should get the job. Now what I do think has been a very shitty double standard is when a gay actor doesn't get the same chance a straight actor would get for a straight role. That horrifies me, and should be stopped right this second.
WCT: Let's move on to Minutiae. How did you come up with the title?
JPDP: [Laughs] When I imagined this, I wanted a title that was confusing and not easy to understand. When I first heard the word "minutiae," I laughed out loud. The title and subject matter are all about the things that happen in this optimistic guy's head. It's actually about the things we make huge in our minds, but are actually small.
WCT: And you have some interesting co-stars, including a couple from Fuller House.
JPDP: That's been awesome, especially because I wanted to play with the abilities of my castmates. Most people know them as Kimmy Gibbler [Barber] or Uncle Jesse [Stamos], but they're also my friends and it was great to have them play completely different charactersincluding John cursing like a truck driver.
WCT: And the LGBTQ episode "Promise" was very moving. What made you go that particular angle [about two queer old Hollywood stars from the 1930s] with co-star Ariana Savalas?
JPDP: The episodes come from whatever's in my mind at the time, and Minutiae gives me a place to create different worlds, like a dream or a horror film.
I've been a huge fan of Ariana and we're really good friends. In 2017, we took these pictures with this amazing photographer named Jay P. Morgan. He asked me what kind of pictures I wanted, and I said, "I always wanted to be [the late actor Rudolph] Valentino." So the pictures you see in "Promise" are from 2017.
Then, I thought I really wanted to do an LGBT episode because it was June, it was Pride Month. It was really important to me, and I wanted to make my [contribution] to this and do something else besides, "Yaylet's celebrate." That type of relationshipwith gay and lesbian Hollywood stars married off to other peoplewas big back then. They were under contracts that basically owned their lives. One, it's fascinating and, two, it's real.
It's definitely a more somber Pride this year, and it's a more reflective time. I wanted to tread a fine line of comedy and going somewhere else. I'm a fan of shows like Extras, with Ricky Gervais; Curb Your Enthusiasm; and The Comeback, with Lisa Kudrow. Those shows can make you laughbut then, suddenly, you can find yourself crying.
WCT: You're the director of this series. Are you hoping to direct larger projects?
JPDP: Yeah! That's already in the works. There are two movies I've talking about directing. I think this pandemic made me realize that I'm ready to be a creative person behind the camera.
WCT: If you could work with any two or three actors, who would they be?
JPDP: Well, Marilyn [Monroe] would be fun. [Laughs] Also, I would love to have worked with Gene Kelly; he's my idol. I have a big background in dance, and he's always influenced me. You could see the joy in his face. And [working with] Cate Blanchett is a goal of mine; I think she's one of the finest actresses of our generation.
WCT: You've mentioned dance a few times. There are people, including myself, who criticized Dancing with the Stars because of where you finished.
JPDP: Well, I look at it this way: I made it to the finals. I was eliminated a day before the finals, but we [Di Pace and pro partner Cheryl Burke] were asked to come back for the finals and do our tango. At first I said, "No!," like a petulant child. Then I agreed to do itbut only if I could sing, so they let me do that.
It's a game, not a talent show. There were many factors we were not in control of.
Minutiae/The Series is on YouTube. Also, see a duet of Di Pace with Siobhan Dillon singing Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love" at www.youtube.com/watch.