Nico Tortorella

What made you want to pursue acting?
Honestly? The Mighty Ducks. I was a hockey player growing up The Mighty Ducks 2, fused hockey and acting in such an amazing way. That was kind of the driving force. I think also the classics; I come from a big Italian family, so Goodfellas, The Godfather, and A Bronx Tale were staples in my household.

What would you say is your dream role?
The more that I’m playing “believe” in my real life and working on myself, actually the harder it is for me to play “make-believe” right now. So today, my dream role would be playing myself.

What has been your favorite role to play so far?
The most challenging character was Carson in a film I did called Hunter&Game. I played a drug addict DJ and I just really went for it. It was definitely hard. It had its moments where it was really fun, but it also had its tough moments too. I got lost in that role. You couldn’t pay me to play that role again tomorrow, but I’m really happy it happened because I think I learned a lot about myself and the idea of method acting.

The happiest I’ve been acting is playing Josh [on Younger]. It’s all based on love and respect. I get to bring that energy home and it’s no coincidence that, as I’ve been playing this role, everything in my life has just been so positive. He leads with his heart on everything. Undoubtedly, that comes from me, like the actor that plays him, but it’s just such a great show to be on. It’s been incredible.

Let’s talk about Josh & Liza. What happened?! I feel like Tyra Banks in saying this, but I was rooting for you guys!
(laughs) Definitely! Well, still root for me. It’s not over yet! We just wrapped the fifth season and Josh and Liza have been in a whirlwind since the first episode. Their relationship is just so beautiful. So rarely on television, you get to see people who have been romantic end things and then revert to a platonic relationship that still holds so much power and love. Josh and Liza are family now. Liza left everything she knew, moved to Brooklyn and Josh became her rock outside of her work life. And it’s not so different from Josh in Brooklyn. This woman came and moved to Brooklyn, and she was his escape from all of Brooklyn in such an amazing way. That relationship is never going to die, it’s going to keep evolving.

What else can you tell us about Josh’s character in season five? What can fans expect?
Josh’s relationship history has always been rocky and unstable. Sure, he’s married right now, but he and Claire have known each other for what? A month or two months and now they’re married. She’s from Ireland, he’s from Brooklyn, so it’s going to have its hardships for sure. There’s going to be a lot of space for him to learn what that means. If you’re asking me, Josh really has to learn how to love himself and not rely on someone else to provide that love for him. I think the way Josh loves others is how he needs to love himself, which is a truism for everybody.

nico tortorella

Tell us about your podcast, The Love Bomb.
My favorite memory from The Love Bomb is probably when we were moving into the second season, we made a whole new intro. That’s when I first got into sound design and what it meant. Playing with a modulator and seeing the different sounds we could make; that was really incredible for me to explore. I can’t even pick a favorite episode; they’re all so wildly different and for me, it was a real education on all things love. I think “love” itself is a noun, an adjective, and a verb. It’s also like who we are and what we are. The big takeaway is that the secret is not trying to find love, but to be love.

You’ve recently come out as gender fluid, or in your terms, “cissy.” Tell us more about what that means.
There is not one label that I’m saying this is who I am for the rest of my life. I love language and I just wrote a book of poetry. I’m obsessed with words and how we use them. I think they can either be used as medicine or weapons. I feel like I’m getting my Doctorate in the medicine right now. I’m exploring the world of gender and what it means to me. I think the more work I’ve been doing in the space, the less I believe in gender as binary, as the construct that it is.

I’m stuck in a really interesting place right now in my own education and journey and it’s something that I work on every day, but it’s exciting. It’s explorative. My fluidity far transcends my sexuality and my gender identity. It’s everything I am, and everything I stand for. It even saddens me that we’re in this place in the world that we have to fight for these things right now.

I think really with social media and the interconnectivity of all of us, we are able to talk about it and find our tribe in a way that hasn’t really existed before and that is so beautiful. We’re living in the last generation that will ever know what life was like before the Internet, which is fucking crazy to think about. The exponential rate at which we’re moving towards this singularity is so magical but so crazy. I think gender and sexuality are just part of that.

Do you think there’ll be a time it all disappears?
That’s kind of the utopian dream. Obviously, it is the dream, this oneness, but I don’t know if that is actually what I want right this second in my life. I understand the spectrum far surpassing gender and sexuality, and I appreciate it. Without it, the good doesn’t exist. You need that duality in absolutely everything for us to survive. I appreciate labels; it’s how we find each other, you know? I don’t think they always need to be fixed. They can be for some people. This is my own inner struggle that I work through on a daily basis.

What has been the industry’s attitude of people being more of themselves in the public eye?
The industry has changed so fast since I’ve gotten into it. Even within the last year, even the last six months with the #MeToo movement, everything is different. The industry is very much so a mirror of everything that’s happening in the world. We’re moving to a place that’s changing so fast that every day there’s a different answer to that question. I can speak for myself and say I haven’t had an issue. If anything, being more myself and speaking freely about who I am has only brought me more opportunity.

Since you’ve been an advocate for and a role model for young, queer people; what advice would you give to LGBTQ+ youth?
Share, share, share! Just start sharing with yourself, then your friends, your family members. The power of sharing publicly is so important right now. We’ve been taught one thing for so long; of what love and relationships are supposed to look like and now that’s changing because we’re seeing more stories. The more stories we see, the more we’re going to believe. Find a way; whether it’s through art, social media, music or poetry, whatever. Just share and create. To be frank, my biggest inspiration that I turn to for creative juice is to queer youth. What the kids are doing and the way that their minds are programmed is so different from any of our elders’. They’ve had access to so much more information from such a younger age than what they’re capable of is so much more powerful in a way that we don’t even know yet. Keep sharing so I can watch it! (laughs)

Tell us about your experience as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
So amazing! That show has been such a staple to my life for so long that I knew that I always wanted to be part of it in one way or another. It’s funny, the show came into my life from the Menendez: Blood Brothers movie. To me, drag is a way to approach gender but it’s so much more than gender, with a sense of humility. So much of the life people take so fucking seriously all the time. To me, drag was a way to play with life in such a beautiful way. There’s a childish enthusiasm to drag that is so beautiful. That’s what really attracted it to me in the first place. It’s so visceral. It’s using your body, your voice, your face as a canvas as a form of resistance, too! It’s so fucking layered.

Let’s talk about All of It Is You; Why poetry?
I think that the way in which I live my life is really poetic and it was just the natural place to start. There’s a space in which my brain operates and my mouth moves, and for me, poetry lives in between those two. That’s where the magic happens for me.

Do you feel you’ve learned a lot about yourself in the 45 days it took you to write it?
Absolutely. Having to harness inspiration every single day for that long is innately spiritual. I set up a timeline and had a certain amount of time I was dedicated to the work daily, and there is obviously a rhythm to my poetry that is almost like a mantra. I think the greatest way to start learning about yourself is through spiritual practice and that’s what that book was for me. It still is. I pick it up every day and I’ll read something, and it hits me in a new way every single time. It was a guidebook that I could go back to and be inspired. I wrote that book for myself first.

I wrote the whole thing in order. I started with the first one and ended with the last one. By the time I got to the universe section, I had just found my flow. That’s my favorite section to go back and read. There’s the most subtle magic in that section than any other section.

How did it feel when you got the printed piece?
Ahh! All the of the work I’ve done in the past ten years in the industry has either A. been somebody else’s baby, so to speak, and B. has been on television or on a podcast that lives in the ether. There’s a forever quality to a book that is so much different and when I held the book for the first time, that realization just exploded through my body. It was very emotional, it still is.

And seeing people read it in other countries…
Oh my God! That book is everywhere! It’s fucking insane. That even more so inspires the idea that I’ve got to go and hit the road. I need to travel and connect with people.

What was the toughest part of writing the collection? The easiest?
It’s almost like the hardest part and the easiest part is the same thing. I think sharing it with the world was the hardest part but also the most natural for me. I’ve never written a book before, nobody’s ever seen my words on a page.

In the introduction of the book, I talk about my biggest insecurity; my own intelligence. I’m educated– I went to high school, and to college for a year and a half, but I have friends who’ve done their undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. all at Ivy Leagues– these are some of my best friends, who are my inspiration, and resources that I go to and get to intellectually workshop on a daily basis. But I will always feel like a little lesser than because of how I have been educated… which is stupid, but that’s what we’re taught, right? To be able to share a book like this with the world, definitely had its fear in it. But at the same time, it could not have been easier for me.

Are there plans for a second?
I’m working on it right now. I think with the first book, I quite literally attacked… everything (laughs). I think the next one will be sexuality and gender driven. That’s just where I am in my life. I want to write that book with a real global voice. I want to travel, learn and share it with the world.

What’s next?
My marriage has been so fulfilling and incredible. We are growing both as a unit and as individuals every single day. There are the books, then I think there are secondary and tertiary relationships but I think our polyamory is something that’s really exciting.

Words: Nico Seidita & Laura Ersoy
Photography: Aysia Marotta
Styling: Mike Adler at Angela DeBona Agency
Grooming: Laila Hayani at Kahlo Makeup Art