As an actor, it’s not often you get to play the lead in a feature film.
For Thomas Duplessie, the opportunity came with more than a few added perks. Thomas stars in Jump, Darling, a beautiful comedic family drama about a rookie drag queen and his ailing grandmother (available to rent starting March 9th). We caught up with Thomas to learn about his journey into acting, how he got drag lessons from Tynomi Banks herself, and why drag stories need to be told.
Oh, and how he fell in love with the film’s director on set. (We love a meet cute).
How did you first become interested in acting?
I saw my first play in the fourth grade and remember telling myself, I have to do this. I became interested in film and TV later on when I started watching the greats, like Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Al Pacino. I was inspired by their ability to disappear into a character. I wanted to study that.
Jump, Darling premiered as a Special Presentation at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival last fall. Tell us about the process of landing your first leading role in the film!
My agent sent me the script and I connected with the material right away. I knew I was going to fight hard for this one. It was a long audition process. They had me put four scenes on camera and choreograph two different drag routines over the course of three callbacks. Finally, the morning after the last audition, my agent called me with an offer.
In the film, you play an amateur drag queen. What did you learn from working with other successful drag queens, like Tynomi Banks, on set?
This was my first time doing drag so I had nowhere to go but up. They taught me a lot! I learned from watching Tynomi that if you’re not feeling yourself 100%, then it’s not worth doing. I learned to let go, not take myself too seriously, and leave my ego at the door.
Why do you feel it’s important for authentic stories about the drag community to be told?
I think with any subculture, the more exposure the better. There’s a lot more to a life spent performing than the makeup and costumes you see on stage, and those stories of struggle, perseverance, and triumph are vital to those looking for validation and representation.
Who is your favourite drag queen?
I can only choose one?! I’m going to cheat and say Sasha Velour and Tynomi Banks.
We can’t resist. Tell us about falling in love with the film’s director and writer, Phil Connell, on set!
I knew at my first fitting that I was into Phil. But it wasn’t until towards the end of shooting that I let myself go there. Nothing was said or happened until after we wrapped. We had to keep it professional! He broke the ice and we’ve been together ever since.
What advice do you have for actors who are working towards that first leading role?
Take class, take class, take class. Treat every role like the world is going to see it. BE KIND and know why you’re doing this. And if you don’t love the work, find something else.