You Know Him From: His performance as gay teenager Tony in the mystery drama 13 Reasons Why, Netflix’s runaway hit about a girl who takes her own life and leaves her peers behind to pick up (and put together) the pieces.
What’s Next: Season 2 of 13 Reasons (premiering later this year), in which Tony “begins to allow himself to be loved”; this fall’s queer-themed dramedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?, led by Melissa McCarthy; his new single “Hello Again,” which he co-wrote and recorded with Evangelia, out this month.
A Bronx Tale: “The Bronx has a reputation for being a rough place,” says the 26-year-old native New Yorker, “but we’ve also given birth to some incredible art, sports stars, and actors and actresses. If I learned anything from growing up there, it was that struggle and suffering go hand in hand with success. I’m not afraid of being hit hard, because I know I can take it and keep on going.”
On His Newfound Success: “Obviously, you accrue some level of fame with a show like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still paying off student loans. But I was also able to send my father to the UFC, go see Hamilton, and enjoy a few of the finer things in life. Eventually, I’d like my dad to never have to work again, and I’m chipping away at that goal. It’s in my crosshairs, and I have deadly aim.”
Shattering the Stigma: “Mental health awareness and suicide prevention aren’t just trending topics. My real takeaway from working on 13 Reasons Why is the realization that these issues have been and will continue to be prevalent. Our entire team is dedicated to bringing that awareness to the forefront. And it’s not just a show about suicide it’s a show about women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, and about what happens when we fail to acknowledge and deal with our insecurities and pain. I’ve learned that every day is a battle for everyone, and we’re all responsible for seeing each other through it.”
Passing the Torch: “I didn’t ask to be a role model, but there are undoubtedly young people all over the world who relate to Tony. My job is to continue to kick down doors like some of the great Puerto Rican and Latino actors have before me. Benicio Del Toro, John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, Jennifer Lopezthese are all people who inspire me, and I can only hope some little kid in the South Bronx sees one of my performances and says, ‘Hey, I can do that, too… and I can do it better.’”
Photography: Brian Higbee
Styling: Alison Brooks
Grooming: Bekah Lesser / Opus Beauty