Fuller House actor and Dancing With the Stars alum Juan Pablo Di Pace is opening up about his sexuality for the first time in the public eye, coming out as gay during a recent TEDx talk. In the talk, which he gave to a group of young people in Maastricht this past June, Di Pace recalled being called a gay slur at a young age, which left him feeling like he needed to hide from his truth for years.
"I hated that word so much that I spent years perfecting myself to become a very convincing little actor," he told the crowd. "I was desperate to fit in. I wanted to know what it was like to be part of life, or if there were other people out there like me."
Having come out to family and friends more than 20 years ago, Di Pace revealed he still kept his sexuality quiet in public so as not to potentially harm his career in acting. However, when he was cast as Jesus in the 2015 NBC miniseries A.D. The Bible Continues, Di Pace recalled having a true moment of self-acceptance.
"Justifying being gay with my [mental critic], I get offered the role of a lifetime — Jesus Christ," he said. "Of all the people in the world that could play this part, they gave it to me. So, there I am, hanging on the cross in Morocco, and I look up at the sky, and I think, 'You could still strike me down with lightning. Are you sure you want me to play your son? Me?'"
"I waited, I was not struck by lighting," he continued. "Instead what I felt was an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance and freedom that I could never even put into words. A message from God? Maybe."
He implored the young people listening to his talk to "fire that critic" that lives within them and makes them not feel good enough in order to embrace their true selves.
"You are all more than good enough. You are all brilliant and unique authors," he told them. "You're in fact artists, all of you. So let's make this life a masterpiece of art. And when you're aware you're screwing up your own movie, change it."
Photo credit: Robin Marchant / Contributor, Getty