Fuller House star and Dancing with the Stars contestant Juan Pablo Di Pace is publicly opening up about his experiences as a gay man for the first time during his own TEDx talk, according to a report from Pop Culture.
In the TEDx talk, which was recorded in March and recently uploaded to YouTube, Di Pace recalls his time growing up in Buenos Aires and coming face-to-face with bullies who’d taunt him with homophobic slurs. The actor said dealing with this at such a young age made him believe that he needed to bury his truth from the rest of the world as an adult. He said he was driven to perfect his craft and become a very “convincing little actor” in order to fit in.
“I was desperate to fit in. I wanted to know what it was like to be part of life, or if there were other people out there like me,” he told the crowd.
The actor said he shared his sexuality with his family and friends more than 20 years ago, but had previously made the decision to keep it hidden from the public to prevent it from potentially harming his career. However, that all changed after he was cast in the role of Jesus Christ in the NBC miniseries A.D. The Bible Continues.
Di Pace recalled that while playing the religious figure, he had a true moment of acceptance and hasn’t looked back since.
“So, there I am, hanging on the cross in Morocco, and I look up at the sky, and I think, ‘You could still strike me down with lightning. Are you sure you want me to play your son? Me?'”
“I waited, I was not struck by lighting,” he continued. “Instead what I felt was an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance and freedom that I could never even put into words. A message from God? Maybe.”
The actor went on to encourage listeners to embrace their true selves and know that they are more than enough.
Di Pace’s next major role will be the title character in Gardel, a biopic documenting the life of tango star Carlos Gardel. Fans of the actor can also look forward to seeing him reprise his role on the fifth season of Fuller House, which began production earlier this year, according to a report from Deadline.
On the Netflix revival, Di Pace plays Fernando Guerrero, the former ex-husband and now fiancé of Kimmy Gibbler, played by Andrea Barber, and father of Ramona Gibbler, played by Soni Nicole Bringas. Fernando is a famous race car driver and apparently cheated on Kimmy during their marriage. He has since seen the error of his ways and managed to convince his ex-wife to give him a second chance.
Fuller House is expected to return for a fifth and final season later this year.