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The rise of the non-binary actor Darwin Del Fabro

The year's looking bright for this upcoming actor.

By Jon Stojan

Darwin Del Fabro

The hegemonic gender binary—knowing and identifying just two genders, ‘male’ and ‘female’ is changing. Gender norms used to be so rigidly in place that no one could possibly think about celebrating the vast spectrum of human diversity. Looking back in time, it seemed impossible, just a dream, to see anyone identifying as non-binary to ever appear on global platforms. 

With these labels in place, people who were unable to categorize themselves in one or the other faced identity crises. This hindered their ability to perform well in their personal and professional lives, triggered anxiety, and made surviving a challenge in itself. 

Thankfully, as the world progresses, a shift in the mindset is observed. There has been a rise in non-binary representation on the biggest global podium: the media. Some celebrities have opened the doors for other non-binary talents to dream about stepping into the limelight. 

Among these rising talents is a name that caught the world’s attention in 2022 after being cast in the film They/Them. Darwin Del Fabro, the Brazilian non-binary actor, singer, and producer who appeared as Gabriel in this gay conversion camp-set slasher film is a rising non-binary talent tearing their way onto the big screen. Born and raised in Brazil in the house of fashion models, Darwin left the confines of Brazil to acquire an identity in the United States in 2017. They wanted to clear the path for all those who were still struggling to embrace their true gender due to societal limitations.

Darwin is striving to make it big in this world to make young Brazilians believe in themselves, “This is possible; I can do it because Darwin did it.” 

The Non-Binary Brazilian Star with a Dream

Darwin was well-known in Brazil and built quite a resume on the local stage. They got their first major role in musical theatre at the young age of 13. Darwin had always had a knack for music and art. Coming from a family of artists, including fashion models and actors, their win at a singing contest at the age of 3 came as no surprise. They made their debut in Era no tempo do rei, João Fonseca’s musical. 

Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim became Darwin’s choice for studying theater alongside Daniel Herz. This was where they did two plays, A Outra and Lapso de Mim Mesmo. Darwin was also seen performing in the original Brazilian productions of Shrek the Musical, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Wizard of Oz. Darwin also created their own play, which was performed in Rio before it permanently moved to New York. They are currently directing the same play to be performed in June this year. 

Darwin even set the foundation of their own production company, Madalena Production, in 2015. It was the same year they produced, directed, and starred in the musical Be Careful, It’s My Heart. This was later adapted into an album. 

Despite having built a big name in the Brazilian theatre and music world, Darwin decided to step out in search of success. 

Their move to New York was based on their passion to succeed in America. After moving to the United States, Darwin enrolled in the musical theater program at the Broadway Dance Center. Even though the schedule was hectic, with around 24 classes every week and additional efforts to learn the English language, Darwin did not give up their dream. 

That Big Break

While Darwin was in New York, they released their album, Revisiting Jobim, in NY and promoted it by performing in Feinstein’s 54 Below restaurant, bringing claimed recognition as a new voice in America. This performance was followed by some notable ones in the collective production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as Adam in The Feather Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree. They also played Domenic in Tank’s off-Broadway play Real, for which they received terrific reviews. 

It was after these performances that Darwin got their big break. They landed a dream role in three-time Oscar nominee John Logan’s film They/Them. They starred as Gabriel in the film, which, according to John, was written with Darwin in mind. Darwin met John in New York when they called him and asked if he would adapt the play they created in Brazil about two painters. John came to New York and attended the workshop, which is how Darwin made their way into John’s creative landscape. 

An Attempt to Become a Voice for Non-Binary People in Brazil

By 2022, Darwin had entered Hollywood, and their performance as Gabriel brought them massive attention and admiration. While shooting for They/Them, Darwin loved how ‘safe’ they felt on set. As most of the cast and crew of the film were queer or non-binary, it helped develop a sense of ‘family’ for them. 

It made Darwin ponder the possibility of everyone else like them at home in Brazil. This is when Darwin decided to go back home and live part of the life they missed. Then came the release of their latest album, Revisiting Elis Regina, in January this year, directed and produced by two-time Latin Grammy Award-nominated pianist, singer, and arranger Elis Regina. 

Elis Regina is a name not unknown in the music world. She is considered one of South America’s pioneering and influential artists. Darwin believed that through this well-respected and globally known Brazilian artist, they could make an impact. While this release circled their attempt to ‘rediscover and embrace’ a version of themselves they had left behind, the vision was much broader.

Darwin Del Fabro

In an interview with Instinct Magazine, Darwin stated, “I wanted to channel my experiences of being a non-binary person in Rio into singing the complex narratives and blissful melodies of Elis Regina’s hits.” They further talked about how returning to their mother tongue while performing the songs of the greatest singer of her time was a dream come true.

Darwin is strongly inspired by Elis.

 “Elis helped teach me to take ownership of myself and be free. I was enchanted by this woman who went against the standards of her time. She was small and wore her hair short. She was delicate, but also quite rough…. Elis was everything at the same time.”

Media has the power to challenge societal norms and offers people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum a chance to clear a path for all those who will come after them while allowing representation. People like Darwin Del Fabro are expected to become the initiators of a movement for increased representation.

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