Zoe Terakes is standing up to censorship

· Updated on June 27, 2024

Trans masc nonbinary Australian actor, activist, and now author Zoe Terakes is one to watch this year and going forward.

Best known for their roles in Wentworth, Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers, and A24’s summer blockbuster horror Talk to Me, Terakes’ film credits are multiplying. They are even slated to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Disney+ series Ironheart, which will be released next year. In addition to film, they have been in several theater productions, receiving two Sydney Theatre Awards and a Helpmann nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

But while they were rising to stardom with the release of Talk to Me, the film was banned in Kuwait — not for the movie’s plot or content, but because of Terakes’ trans identity. When the news broke, Terakes expressed their concerns and the ramifications of the ban in a statement on Instagram.

“Our film doesn’t have queer themes. Our film doesn’t actually ever mention my transness, or my queerness. I am a trans actor who happened to get the role,” Terakes wrote. “I’m not a theme. I’m a person. Kuwait has banned this film due to my identity alone.”

“Our survival is so dependent on our ability to look to each other, to share with each other, to lean on each other, to love each other, to see each other,” they continued. “My heart breaks for the trans people and queer people of Kuwait who have so few places to look.”

The actor suggested that readers who felt “angry, sad or confused” the ban to donate to Rainbow Railroad, a charity helping LGBTQ+ folks in countries like Kuwait where queerness is criminalized.

As their popularity increased, Terakes was named GQ Australia’s 2023 Actor of the Year, a trailblazing moment in their early career. In their acceptance speech, they praised and recognized the liberated and fearless trans people of color who came before them. “We are forever indebted to the trans people of color who fought like hell for the future of their community,” he said. “They walked down the street through heckling, and violence, and abuse, and erasure, so we could run.” Terakes ended their speech by using their platform to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Following the release of Talk to Me, book publisher Hachette Australia revealed it had acquired the rights to debut a collection of short stories by Terakes titled Eros: Queer Myths for Lovers, slated to be published later this year. Each story in the collection will retell a different queer myth.

“The process of writing this book is demanding and empowering,” Terakes told ​​OUTinPerth. “Ancient queer and trans history is a pretty special world to immerse myself in; it reminds me that we’re not alone, that we’re not an anomaly, that we’ve always been here, we’ve always been natural and essential.”

“In times like these wherein trans people are under such violent and unrelenting attack, it feels so important to look at the beauty and magic and resistance in our ancestors,” they continued.

At the root of it, Terakes is just a person trying to develop into themself and ultimately just “be” while making use of their platform. Opposing forces of ignorance and prejudice make such authentic living difficult — but Terakes’ resilience and bravery to just “be” has such immense power. And at 24 years old, their power is only increasing.

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