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A young Latina actor stars in new queer Hulu high school rom-com

A young Latina actor stars in new queer Hulu high school rom-com

What do art and love have in common? Neither can be forced. That’s according to Hulu’s new romantic comedy, “Crush.” The LGBTQ+ friendly high school movie showcases all types of love, and the beauty that comes when it arrives unexpectedly.

“Crush,” which premiered Friday, follows a young artist, Paige, who is trying to get into CalArts, a prestigious California art school. When Paige, played by Rowan Blanchard (“Girl Meets World”), receives a threat of suspension over graffiti pun art she’s suspected of creating, she is offered a pass — she can join the school’s track team to avoid suspension. She takes it and works on her ultimate goal of pursuing her crush, who just so happens to be one of the team’s captains.

Latina actor Isabella Ferreira, 19, known for her role in Hulu’s “Love, Victor,” plays the role of Gabriella, the “it” girl at Miller High. She is the co-captain of the track team, beautiful and confidently lesbian. She also happens to be the longtime crush of Paige. Paige later discovers her crush was simply just that as she begins to “crush” on another teammate, AJ, played by Auli’i Cravalho (“Moana”), who is Gabriella’s sister.

Being the popular girl in high school doesn’t mean you have it all together, said Ferreira about her character. “At the end of the day she is navigating her way through life as everyone else is.”

Auli’i Cravalho as AJ and Isabella Ferreira as Gabriela in “Crush” on Hulu.Brett Roedel / Hulu

“Crush” is not the first production Ferreira has worked on that elevated LGBTQ+ love. She’s best known for her role as the supportive sister in Hulu’s “Love, Victor,” which returns June 15 for its third and final season. 

“I’m very grateful and blessed to be able to have the opportunities that I’ve had,” said Ferreira, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. Raised in Philadelphia, she currently lives in Los Angeles. “It’s very empowering to be able to represent — first of all, Latinos and also the LGBTQ community.”

While some regard LGBTQ+ issues as taboo topics, there’s also much to discuss, she said.

Rowan Blanchard as Paige, Isabella Ferreira as Gabriela and Auli’i Cravalho as AJ in “Crush” on Hulu.Brett Roedel / Hulu

The movie comes at a time of increasing legislation to limit instruction or discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics) enacted in March.

In “Crush,” all are open about their sexuality and express their love without any fear of repercussions.

“I think it’s extremely important in times like these for people and creatives to stand up if they’re able to and show support,” said Ferreira. “That’s why I’m so extremely proud of this film, because it just is a true celebration to not only being yourself but following your heart, and I think that’s what’s important.”

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Sheyla Baez

Sheyla Baez is a production assistant on “American Voices with Alicia Menendez” on MSNBC. 

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