The Academy Celebrates PRIDE 2023

As #PRIDE Month 2023 comes to an end, The Actors Society recognizes iconic roles and contributions to the craft by LGBTQ+ members of our alumni community that you can celebrate year-round! 

Vico Ortiz - Class of 2011

Ortiz plays non-binary pirate Jim Jimenez in Max’s Our Flag Means Death. Regarding their character’s acceptance on the show, Ortiz told Entertainment Weekly, “It was amazing. And seeing everyone's response on social media, all of the Latiné, non-binary kids are just crying and I am crying with them because it's such a huge moment. And I love that.” 

Hailing from Puerto Rico, Ortiz is a Latine/x non-binary gender fluid actor and activist who can also be seen in Amazon’s Transparent and S.O.Z.: Soldados o Zombies, Max’s The Sex Lives of College Girls, and VIDA on StarzThey were awarded the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award in 2022.


Taylor Mac - Class of 1996

MacArthur Genius Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Mac’s extensive and ongoing theatrical career has been aimed toward change, whether societal or in the theatre. Even Mac’s pronoun - judy - is an artistic tip to “a personalized pronoun for someone whose gender (professionally and personally) is constantly changing.”

This month, Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music debuts on HBO, documenting Mac’s one-time only, 24-hour live marathon theatre event that offers a different take on U.S. history through popular music, complete with decade-specific costumes and audience interaction. 


Kate Moennig - Class of 1998

Moennig’s role as Shane McCutcheon in Showtime’s trailblazing The L Word catapulted her into the queer canon in the mid-2000’s, and again in 2019 with The L Word: Generation Q (which she also executive produced). Moennig has said, "I think that character, Shane, is far more significant than me. I was just lucky enough to play her, and I’m assuming that maybe the reason she’s been able to withstand this test of time is because she was so comfortable in her own skin and aware of who she was. Even though she was incredibly flawed, she was someone who was unapologetic for who she was as well, and she stood up for herself." 

Moennig also spent 7 seasons on Showtime’s Ray Donovan, and hosts the podcast PANTS with L Word co-star and fellow Academy graduate Leisha Hailey, Class of 1991.


Brett Crandall - Class of 2011

Graduating from The Academy in 2011, Crandall began developing his talents as a puppeteer while active in the New York theatre scene. After moving home to Kansas - for what he thought was a brief moment - he saw a need for queer-themed puppet shows in the middle of America. Thus, Crandall founded Playchella, a family-friendly pride arts festival with entertainment and community resources, and a platform for his puppet shows. 

PBS NewsHour profiled Crandall in 2022, where he said of performing, “It's a whole different set of rules when you're in the theater or when you're sitting with an audience that you get to listen and pay attention and let something affect you. And so then putting queer stories into that and allowing folks to feel sympathy for queer folks, instead of just the discontent or malice or fear, whatever it is that they have been working with or taught, that is — was not their fault. That's not — that wasn't their idea in the first place.”


Ethyl Eichelberger - Class of 1967

Ethyl Eichelberger was an Obie Award-winning playwright, actor, and drag performer. Several years after graduating from The Academy in 1967, Eichelberger legally changed their name to Ethyl, joined The Ridiculous Theatre Company, then began writing and performing over thirty solo and group performance pieces built around strong women throughout history, legend, and myth. Ethyl’s energetic performances and wild musical numbers reached a legendary status in the East Village, finding stages at famed venues like La Mama and P.S. 122. Eichelberger would also perform in Broadway in the 1980's with The Flying Karamzov Brothers.

“I do want to leave a legacy. Of whatever, for anyone who’d be interested… One would hate to think that one has passed through this world and left nothing. It’s not even so much leaving something, it’s having done something to better the world. I hope I’ve opened a lot of doors.”

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