Ugly Betty star Mark Indelicato has found himself on another massive smash hit show. What makes this extra special is that Hacks is just as queer as Ugly Betty was. Hacks, the story of a Debra Vance, a career comedian fighting her way back into the limelight doesn’t sound like a “gay show.” However, the show and cast are on the cover of Out Magazine calling it “tv’s queerest comedy.”
The show is written and produced by queer people and the majority of the cast identifies as LGBT or Q. Indelicato discussed his days on Ugly Betty, his decision to almost leave the entertainment industry, and most shockingly the relentless questions by reporters asking him if he was gay. At 12 years old.
The With Love actor spent four years playing Justin Suarez, the fashion-obsessed nephew of the title character in the show that championed embracing your uniqueness. Set at the fictional MODE magazine, the show was the gayest thing on tv at the time. Through the years as Justin gets older and more confident in who he is, he comes out to his family by dancing with his boyfriend at his Mom’s wedding or Betty’s going away party. My memory is a little hazy! Even thinking about that moment still gets me a little choked up.
I LOVED the show and while some of the storylines were a little outlandish; [I blame stunt casting, Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lynn Sigler come to mind lol], the writers did justice to young queer kids everywhere struggling with their sexuality. I especially loved how Mark, played by Michael Urie became a much-needed friend to Justin.
Remembering his adolescence Indelicato has harsh words for the press and their pressure to push him to make a decision he clearly wasn’t ready to admit to himself. The kid was 12 years old. [‘I came out at 22 agonizing for years summoning my best friend to a diner tearfully telling her I might be gay, but from that revelation, it took me another few months to accept it and own it, and actually “come out.”] Indelicato told Out magazine,
“when you’re 15, 16, it’s like, ‘I’m just trying to make it through the 10th grade. So I [didn’t] feel the need to talk about it. You know what I mean? I’m just trying to survive high school, to be honest. The last thing on my mind is addressing the public about my sexuality.”
Related: Michael Urie says “Ugly Betty” cast would do a revival
Indelicato does know that young actors today would not be put in that position commenting
“If you did that in 2022, you just…you would not be able to do that. The public reception of that would be completely different than it was then.”
Indelicato is grateful for the immense love and support he received from both his families: the Indelicato clan and the Ugly Betty cast. The first cast member he came out to his on-screen mom Ana Ortiz, asking him to keep his secret. Her response. “I was like, ‘You can’t tell anyone.’ Of course, in hindsight it was like, ‘Girl, everyone knew.’” He also credits his parents with supporting him unconditionally, “I feel very, very lucky and fortunate that I had such supportive parents, and that [they] also didn’t make it a big deal.”
Indelicato calls Hacks the show that made him sta in the entertainment industry, “You get a feeling as an artist of just This is something special,” he recalls. After begging his agent to get him on the show he became part of an ensemble of LGBTQ+ actors playing LGBTQ+ characters.
“They’re just existing as queer people. There’s not really this grandstanding coming-out story, which I think in and of itself is a huge milestone in LGBTQ representation. That their queerness isn’t drama, that it just is.”
Hacks is currently streaming on HBO Max. Two new episodes drop on Thursdays.