Like So Many Queer People, Jay Colindres Is A Master Of Transformation

The actor and queer Latine TikTok icon is so much more than a girl in a pink wig.
Jay Colindres is much more than his characters 鈥 he deserves to be seen as the queer Latin icon he is.
Jay Colindres is much more than his characters 鈥 he deserves to be seen as the queer Latin icon he is.
Photo credit: Jose Carrillo

Not long after Jay Colindres began his career, he became one of the most well-known up-and-coming actors in Latin America. The problem was that people didn鈥檛 know he was acting.

In 2015, he appeared on the mega-popular Spanish-language courtroom show 鈥Caso Cerrado鈥 鈥 think a Hispanic Judge Judy 鈥 in which Colindres played Esteban, a mean-spirited gay man who is involved in a love triangle. In one episode of 鈥淐aso Cerrado,鈥 Esteban and his baby鈥檚 mother (don鈥檛 even ask 鈥昷ust watch the episode) get into it and she throws water on his face, which prompts him to yell a phrase that became instantly memeable: 鈥淓stupida, mi pelo, idiota.鈥

Most of us know that courtroom TV shows mix a little bit of truth with a lot of acting. Despite that, many who watched that episode of 鈥Caso Cerrado鈥 believed that Esteban was a real person and desperately wanted to see more of him. 鈥淧eople wanted me to stick to that character,鈥 he says. 鈥淏ut that wasn鈥檛 what I wanted 鈥 and I also didn鈥檛 know how to move on from that.鈥

To set the record straight, Colindres uploaded a YouTube video titled 鈥The Truth Behind Caso Cerrado.鈥 In it, he explained that he鈥檚 an actor, not the character Esteban from the show. He also stressed his versatility; he could transform into whichever character he was assigned, from a saintlike figure to a hardened hit man. Like so many queer people, Colindres is a master of transformation.

Colindres has 7 million followers across platforms, but it鈥檚 most likely that you鈥檝e seen him on TikTok, where his presence speaks to his genuine ability to reinvent himself. On the platform, he鈥檚 most often wearing a wig and rocking drag that looks thrifted.

You might have seen one video in which he鈥檚 dressed in a shiny purple Selena-esque jumpsuit while someone chases him through the streets and asks, in full paparazzi mode, 鈥淪elena, Selena, is that you?鈥 Colindres turns around and belts out 鈥淐omo La Flor鈥 while pouting and giving an awkward, self-assured nod. It鈥檚 not Selena Quintanilla, of course 鈥 it鈥檚 the Kirkland brand version of her. And I say that with all due respect.

In all their awkwardness and shyness, these new characters are much more authentic to Colindres than the loud and abrasive Esteban ever was. 鈥淚t鈥檚 pretty much me,鈥 he says. 鈥淚 guess people connected with my brain.鈥

Perhaps Colindres鈥 ability to shape-shift stems from the way he鈥檚 adapted to different environments. When he was 13 years old, he moved to Boston from Guatemala and lived in a neighborhood full of Latinos from different countries. Now, he lives between Boston and Antigua, Guatemala, where he says he feels safer and more himself than in America.

Colindres carries his Latinidad and his queerness in a way that I always felt was impossible for myself. I envy that, in a way. He鈥檚 able to wear a dress and a wig and act flamboyantly and still somehow be loved by a comprehensive Latin American audience (he says his biggest fan base is in Brazil).

I had to ask him if he faces hate for being visibly queer in the Latin community. From my own experience of growing up Latino and queer, 鈥渕aricon,鈥 or the f-word in Spanish, was casually thrown around all throughout my childhood. Once, I was caught wearing a dress by an uncle, which led to an appointment with the chancla.

鈥淚 don鈥檛 know. I really don鈥檛 know,鈥 Colindres says. 鈥淚 think people connect with me because it鈥檚 humor and people like to laugh.鈥 His answer makes me think despite the homophobia that permeates the culture, he doesn鈥檛 spend too much of his emotional energy dwelling on it.

Similarly to how he felt after playing Esteban, Colindres senses another shift coming. He doesn鈥檛 just want to stay confined to his pink wig character on TikTok anymore. For the public, Colindres has always been in some form of drag. But he is finally dipping his toe into just being himself, and that includes expressions from across the gender spectrum.

Colindres suspects that this shift might be challenging since some peoples鈥 reactions to his wigless TikToks have made him a little nervous. 鈥淚鈥檝e read comments that are like, 鈥業f you鈥檙e not wearing a pink wig, next time you鈥檙e not gonna get a comment,鈥欌 he says. This is, sometimes, both the gift and burden of playing a beloved character.

To me, Colindres the person is much more interesting than any character he could play, if only because he proves that being LGBTQ and Latine really sets you up to step into any role you choose.

If there鈥檚 anything Colindres鈥 career so far has shown us, it鈥檚 that you don鈥檛 need to marry a trope just because it was a great fit for a season. Colindres will be whoever he wants to be, and he鈥檒l do it authentically and unapologetically. He won鈥檛 stop transforming, and he definitely won鈥檛 abandon comedy. 鈥淚n life, I鈥檝e learned that as long as you laugh about everything, everything is going to be fine,鈥 he says.

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