Elite star Omar Ayuso feels a ‘moral responsibility’ playing a gay Muslim on TV
Netflix’s hit Spanish teen series Elite has returned for season seven as Omar Ayuso reprises his role as fan-favourite gay character, Omar Shanaa.
The LGBTQ+ inclusive series follows the dramatic lives of students at prestigious secondary school Las Encinas. As the racy series returns with fresh faces and a brand new set of high-school problems, Ayuso has also thrilled fans by making his highly-anticipated return.
Over the course of the Elite‘s first five seasons, viewers saw Omar Shanaa struggle to come out as a gay man living in a conservative Palestinian Muslim household. Enraptured audiences followed his character arc as he unapologetically embraced himself and embarked on a rocky relationship with Ander Muñoz (Aron Piper).
Ayuso made his last appearance as Omar Shanaa at the end of season five, which concluded with the tragic death of his best friend Samuel (Itzan Escamilla). In season seven – which dropped all eight episodes on Netflix on 20 October – Omar returns to high school still reeling from Samuel’s death.
“You do feel a responsibility as an actor in building up the character and conveying certain things for a character with a certain reality,” the 25-year-old gay actor explained.
“There’s a moral responsibility. You have to be honest; you have to start from an honest point, especially if you’re talking about a minority that has been marginalised over time. Everything you do has to help them eventually get to a better place.”
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His portrayal of Omar so far has been a roaring success, making him one of the most talked about Elite characters and receiving huge praise from LGBTQ+ fans on social media.
“I would say in my day-to-day life, being a gay man in Spain, it’s also a responsibility I feel in how I behave myself. There’s great beauty in the feedback from the fans,” he continued.
“I think one of the few things that you can say is great from social media is that you receive messages from faraway cultures that have nothing to do with you, from people you don’t know, and they convey the difficulties of trying to be who they feel they are and realising that your job may mean so much in the life of other people is something that is really rewarding.”
As an out gay actor playing an out gay character, Ayuso firmly believes this representation is “something that we need so much while growing up and also in our lives as adults.”
“It’s role models that I didn’t have as much when I grew up, that my mother didn’t have at all. So being able to be that role model and to play that role model is something that is really special,” he concluded.
The official synopsis for Elite season seven shows that Omar’s mental health journey will be the central plot. “Omar is living a new life at the university and far away from Las Encinas, but he is unable to move on,” it reads.
“The guilt he feels for Samuel’s death and the suffering from that period are still very much present, leading him to undergo therapy. Thanks to an internship, he decides to return to the school where everything happened to confront his demons face to face.
“Through Omar’s journey we will discover that the rest of the students are also silently battling their own hells.”
Elite season seven is available to stream on Netflix.
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