Richie Dupkin

Tell us about yourself! What do you do for a living? What are your interests? What are your pronouns?

Hi! I’m Richie and my pronouns are he/him/his! When I’m not acting, which isn’t exactly frequent these days……I nanny, personal assist, TaskRabbit, sell plants, edit resume/reels, etc. I do a bunch of things and am definitely a bit of an NYC hustle queen in the most cliche way possible. When I first moved to New York, I also ushered a bit at Aladdin. I have big healthy interests in all things Film/TV, social media management, health, and fitness lately….LATELY…drag, and fashion of course. I panic bought $200 five-inch platforms like 6 months ago and have worn them out once to a Trader Joe’s, naturally. 

About how old were you when you came out? How was the climate you grew up in?

-I came out when I was freshly 19 and a Freshman in college. I grew up on Long Island. Despite it being an hour from Manhattan, it could not be more oppositely vibed. Long Island is a pretty consistently conservative place to grow up. Long Island is a bit quieter than the south about being conservative, but once you leave the environment you grew up in and experience other ideas, it dawns on you that you went to school with 3-6 people of color and you’ve never actually met a human being who identifies as queer. Because they can’t come out. Perspective!!! My family is an extremely accepting and loving group of individuals and has always had my best interests in mind. It was clear in my house I would be accepted by my parents in whatever I wanted to be, but getting past my own insecurities was the issue. It was hard to be a closeted queer boy of course. I was well-liked by my gal pals, which was the catalyst for a lot of my guy pals to capitalize around the only viable way to bully me. Fag this, fag that, etc. I heard it pretty consistently all my years of elementary to high school. But denied it every time!!! I had huge trouble letting myself be open with myself about being queer. I don’t think I admitted to myself that I was queer until moments before I kissed a boy in college. Your brain is scarily good at repressing what you feel every day, especially if it doesn’t feel safe to you. I have a very strong will, personality, and sense of morality, so it was easy for me to pass through life like I was in control and things were fine. Spoiler!!!! They weren’t!! But things get worse before they get lovely.

Did you make career choices that allowed you to feel comfortable being open about your sexuality? (Are you out or feel comfortable being out at your workplace?)

I went to college originally like an absolute lunatic as a TV Production major. I say lunatic because I had no idea about/interest in doing that. I just thought it was a more viable option than being an actor, which at the time, was the only thing I truly loved. I went to Hofstra University, about 15 mins from my parent’s house. I didn’t apply or audition for any acting programs both because I didn’t know how, and because I didn’t know I could? Life and possibility felt a lot smaller then and I didn’t know anyone who I could follow in the footsteps of in terms of theatre training, but I sure was on my little computer always desperately searching to make sure the 3 Long Island schools I applied to had drama minors, lolz. I was lucky because I fell into the acting scene at Hofstra and ended up making the cut for the BFA Acting program, which auditioned sophomore year. In terms of being open, I just was. Being in theatre school, working in theatre, it almost feels expected. Sometimes, people will pigeonhole you for that, but my training at Hofstra sorta allowed me to feel confident that I didn’t need to be a comedic gay guy only. I could sorta do whatever I was good at, and also just be proud to be queer. So yes, I’m sure I felt comfortable being involved in acting because it was full of queer life, but it wasn’t a conscious choice. I was lucky to be supported in my newly discovered identity, so I felt safe talking about it.

If you could tell your younger self something about yourself that you are proud of today, what would it be? 

I would tell little Richie that you are so very strong and always were capable of challenging your rigid identity of yourself. I would also tell him that by 25 you would’ve kissed a boy or two and have traveled the country as a full glam fish news reporter in a MUSICAL that you get PAID for. Much more money than you were making at Panera Bread!

Have you tried to surround yourself with like-minded peers/colleagues? If so, how? 

Hofstra was quite the liberal school, so naturally, I found a large artistic family there. I also am quite lucky to have a solid group of friends from home who have supported and nurtured everything about me. We do that for each other, and that is huge. I still feel quite connected to Long Island in that way. You would be shocked at the amount of queerphobic minds you meet in and around the arts. For me it is always about calling attention to that hateful behavior, demanding accountability, and then moving on from it. I’m not concerned with changing that hateful person’s mind. I am concerned with the queer people who are dealing with that hateful behavior and making sure it is clear that there is someone who is excited to speak up for us/them. I only want to work and make lasting relationships with people who are accepting of everyone.

Who were your role models growing up? What tv shows/movies allowed you to feel seen?

Actual real-life role models were easily my father, Richie (big, I was little) for his unwavering work ethic and natural instinct of how to be a good man. My grandma for her broad sense of how to live a meaningful life, and my high school drama club director, Danny Gorman. Danny was the first (and only) queer person I interacted with prior to college. Our school had no budget for theatre so we only did one show a year, but Danny (an alum) worked his ass off to make sure we had an experience to be proud of. He was talented, cute, funny, energetic, kind, and passionate. He was one of the first people to make me feel like I had talent, and he shocked my system when he brought his boyfriend at the time to our rehearsal in SEAFORD, NY LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN. He’s a kickass professional director now and it is a dream of mine to work with him again.

Movies definitely… Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen, The Cheetah Girls, Little Mermaid, The Grinch (Jim Carey, obv) 

All things theatrical made me go insane, for sure. Wicked, Spring Awakening, etc.

The singer Frank Ocean also! His song Forrest Gump!

Complete the sentence, if I knew ____________ back when I was first figuring myself out, I would tell them _____________________?

If I knew, I’d be wearing a set of acrylic nails and short shorts to the gym in New York City, where two ex-boyfriends of mine live, while also getting to travel and act in big artful productions like The Spongebob Musical, I would tell my younger self to calm the hell down, get more sleep and just be yourself starting NOW. It will work out and you will feel a million gallons of love when you need it, always. 

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