Scroll To Top
TV

Talking Coming-of-Age & Queer Inclusion With Netflix's Grand Army Cast

Talking Coming-of-Age & Queer Inclusion With Netflix's Grand Army Cast

Talking Coming-of-Age & Queer Inclusion With Netflix's Grand Army Cast

PRIDE chats with the stars of the gritty, new teen drama series. 

byraffy

Coming-of-age isn't always a pretty process, and Netflix's newest teen drama series Grand Army, which follows the lives of five very different students at Brooklyn's Grand Army High School, is a gritty, dark glimpse at what life is for teens growing up in the modern world.

PRIDE sat down with the cast of Grand Army — Odessa A'zion, Odley Jean, Amir Bageria, Maliq Johnson, and Amalia Yoo — to talk about the show's queer inclusion, bringing difficult and oftentimes ignored topics to mainstream television, and the always continuing journey of young people finding out who they are. 

"She's so not the model minority," actress Amalia Yoo, who plays Leila, a Chinese-Jewish Grand Army freshman who is struggling to create a new image of herself now that she goes to a new school and is surrounded by the pressures of dating and socializing. "With Leila, the amazing thing is that it shows you how much of a process coming into your identity is. It's not this thing that just happens to you. You're, you don't wake up one morning and you say, 'I know exactly who I am.' No one is going to tell you. No one tells you, 'This is how you're seen in the world. This is who you're gonna be in the world.'"

She continued:

"I hope it shows people that it's a process. Coming into your identity as a feminist is a process. Coming into your identity as a girl is a process, as a Jewish person, an Asian person, whatever your ethnicity is, it's a process. She sees the people around her and she thinks, 'Oh, they know exactly who they are. I need to know exactly who I am.' And you don't, and that's okay."

The series also features a gay storyline via Sid, an Indian-American jock who is trying to figure out his sexuality while being a part of the toxic, overly hetero, and masculine environment that is the Grand Army swim team. 

"I feel like the writing brings a lot, especially with that queer aspect," Amir Bageria, who plays Sid, said about what it was like taking on the role and the importance it has for South Asian LGBTQ+ representation. "I remember like the first day of the read-through, I was playing Sid sorta like one way, very stoically, like he like didn't wanna be there, and Katie (Cappiello, Grad Army creator) was like, 'Hey, just one note, when Sid's with the boys, he's with the boys.' And I was like, 'No, he's like, he doesn't want to be there, right? Like he's just kinda pretending.' And she's like, 'No, like he's with the boys simultaneously talking about all this thing with everything else going on.'"

He continued:

"My older brother is gay and I have known that for a very long time and like in my head I was like, 'I know everything about this.' And then as soon as Katie kind of gave me that note, I was like, 'Oh, no, I don't.' So I think the writing brings that aspect of it. With regards to being Indian, I'm not really first-generation, my parents both came here when they were incredibly young and it's very interesting. To be honest, I've always kind of struggled with my culture side, so this was actually a really big exploration of a character, but of also myself. I feel an immense responsibility and I hope that I've done right by it genuinely."

The first season of Grand Army is now streaming on Netflix

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Raffy Ermac

Digital Director, Out.com

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel