Tommy Dorfman is a Modern Mover & Shaker

Tommy Dorfman is a Modern Mover & Shaker

V caught up with the '13 Reasons Why' star to talk his new ASOS x GLAAD campaign, his style, and connection in the age of social media.

V caught up with the '13 Reasons Why' star to talk his new ASOS x GLAAD campaign, his style, and connection in the age of social media.

Text: AJ Longabaugh

Today, ASOS and GLAAD have launched their second capsule collection and campaign that collectively manifests and represents the shared belief to "Stand Proud. Stand United." In tandem with the launch of this inclusive collection, they have enlisted 10 exciting young talents within the LGBTQ+ whose work/craft is establishing a new wave of movers and shakers in the broader lens of representation, equality, and ultimately, unity.

One of those faces, is actor and activist Tommy Dorfman of the Netflix sensation 13 Reasons Why. V caught up with the star to talk about this new campaign, connection in the age of social media, and what the rest of 2018 looks like.

Check out the entire ASOS and GLAAD campaign, and read our conversation with Tommy below!

Can you tell me  about your ongoing relationship with GLAAD?

Absolutely! GLAAD has been so supportive of me as an artist and activist. They are such a positive resource for people in the entertainment industry, LGBTQ+, and otherwise, really broadening the scope and making the umbrella larger and not just having queer people necessarily, but people of color; bridging  marginalized groups and our allies together. I think that was a really important facet of this ASOS collab and including the mission of GLAAD right now. They’ve been very gracious to me, and my voice and I’m so happy to support them. For me it’s always more impactful to insert my efforts to fewer things and put more energy into that, rather than spreading myself too thin. They’re definitely an organization I like to work with in that way. I’m grateful that they want to bring me back for this. We had so much fun last year and I'm ready to make this second collaboration a success.

It seems like your platform is really growing as an individual. Especially after the release of 13 Reasons Why season 2. How has your navigation of time and scope changed over the pass year?

My life didn’t change necessarily, but when you go to 2,000 people following you on Instagram to 900,000 people in a matter of weeks, months there's a moment you consider a lot. It terrifies me somedays and other days I'm really excited. Right now, I’m trying to find a balance of somewhere in between, especially with this second season coming with a lot of responsibility. I think I knew that inherently coming into this show. No one thought it was going to be what it became, but we knew that we would get some attention for it. I'm trying to be as conscious as possible with how I was presenting myself online to be both truthful to myself, but also create a safe space for people to come to; people who watch the show and identify with me or my character.

So, GLAAD has obviously been helpful with that and doing this progressive, unifying work with ASOS has been really supportive as well. I've really enjoyed finding the best ways to engage with my following, and listening to them. I’m not an influencer in the sense that I’m here selling product–I’m here endorsing things that are meaningful to me. I think this is sort of the perfect combination of that, and I like to work with brands that are all inclusive and have a message beyond making money and that are focused on changing the world in some way. The relationship between GLAAD and ASOS is really pushing and curating the brand in that direction.

I think all of the people that are following me are responding well to it. They responded really well to the campaign last year. I had the opportunity to send some product to people, and I’m really excited for them to see this new collection.

We're living in the age of social media and all things digital, and you have such a presence on your platforms that I'm sure drive your followers to reach out and connect with you. What has it been like to receive messages from kids who connect with the show? 

It’s really educational. I learn a lot from the people who watch the show, and the people that identify with my character on the show, and thus identify with me as a person, as well in other regards. I try to bring more of myself to my platform instead of just 13 reasons Why by amplifying other things that I have going on, and broaden that. I’m at a place of privilege by surviving my high school years and my hope is that in whatever way I can, I can provide a safe space for people. Obviously it’s unrealistic to go through all of my DM’s and respond to people, but directing people to the right places on a more general level is a safe way for me to interact with them and a safe way to engage with them without too much responsibility, in that sense. The dialogue is there and I'm listening. It’s nice to be able to look back at my experience and give soft guidance in that way.

I think you have this effortless positive trajectory that you graciously give out to the world.  Can you tell me some of your hopes for yourself and then also for continuing to unify communities and different groups?

What’s interesting about this type of platform is as much as politics on the grand scheme of things play a role in my activism and talking about that stuff, my following is global–they’re not all American and they’re often in countries that have it way harder than we do, so I have to take that into account. Yes, its important to advocate for what’s going on in this country in particular, but it’s almost more important to advocate for my fans in Russia or Chechnya or Brazil.

I think for me moving forward in this year, I want to continue to find larger, more diverse groups of people to speak with, and learn from and that's my hope at the end of the day–it’s all educational. And again, GLAAD has helped me so much with that.

We’re talking about inclusivity. I personally come from a place with a lot of privilege. I’m white, I work in Hollywood, I’m on a T.V. show. You know there’s a lot of privilege that comes with that. I mean on one side, I could just disappear and not see what’s going on in the rest of the world. I could stay in my little Hollywood bubble and not participate and not educate myself. On the other side I could continue to pay attention to what other people are saying and what kids are going through and all facets of the LGBTQ+ community, but also beyond that. I think really my goal is to continue to learn for the rest of this year, and take that knowledge and put it into my work. Whether that’s doing collaborations with ASOS, or my work as a writer, or as an actor that's continuing to seek out scripts and projects that push us forward and help create space for that younger generation that follows me, and encourage change so they have an easier time coming into this industry.

A longterm goal of mine is to continue to fight for a place where we have created enough space and there are enough opportunities for LGBTQ people that we don’t have to identify the creation of work in this industry as queer films or gay films.Tthe stuff that I’m writing and the stuff I’m working on is not all queer focused. I want to see more three dimensional, fully fleshed out characters that may or may not be queer and if they are queer I want to give people that are queer the opportunity to play them. We’re talking about an industry that has 95% straight roles–really less than 5% LGBTQ roles, and 99% of the time don’t even go to LGBTQ people. That to me is problematic, so I think changing the narrative of what is financeable, what a financeable person looks like, i.e. director 0r writer, and how do we find these opportunities for people. That’s the stuff that I'm really pushing towards so that in 5 or 10 or 15 years, my career flourishes and we have more LGBTQ people come up into the scene as writers, directors, and producers.

In closing, can you tell about your style evolution?

I feel like in the last couple of years especially I lost so much – as a kid I was fearless in how I dressed, I got bullied a lot for it, but it didn’t matter. In middle school and high school it started to matter. College, it mattered. Then you come into this industry and you’re told to be a certain way and act a certain way–you have to do this or, and I’m dealing with all of that I’m dealing with the type casting. I’m trying to be a little bit strategic in that sense while not losing myself entirely.

I’m trying to go back to what fulfills that inner child part of myself and what’s still fun and what feels exciting. I was thinking 3 year olds dress way cooler than any of us. I look at my little nieces and nephews and see the way they get dressed and the way that they process stuff, and I find it really inspiring–like there’s freedom to play here. In my day to day life I’m in an all-black uniform because it causes less attention than the stuff that I usually wear because just existing now causes more attention than it used to. So I’m battling that, like how do I evolve in my style while not bringing more attention to myself. I have really fun events coming up and we’re having a lot of fun thinking about what I’ll be wearing – we’ll see.

Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF ASOS AND GLAAD

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ASOS and GLAAD Launch Second Capsule Collection