'Love, Victor' Star Michael Cimino Wants to Inspire Teens to Live Out Loud

'Love, Victor' Star Michael Cimino Wants to Inspire Teens to Live Out Loud

'Love, Victor' Star Michael Cimino Wants to Inspire Teens to Live Out Loud

With his first lead role, the actor speaks openly about finding his passion, voice, and ways he stays true to himself.

With his first lead role, the actor speaks openly about finding his passion, voice, and ways he stays true to himself.

Photography: Connor Franta

Styling: ARYEH LAPPIN

Text: Hailee Milton

There are so many reasons to Love, Victor, but we also love the breakout star portraying Victor — actor Michael Cimino. Michael brings a fresh perspective as a new actor and person of color to the Hulu original series. Standing out among other teenage coming-of-age stories, Love, Victor confronts topics of race, sexuality, social class, machismo culture, and more. By the same token, Michael isn’t afraid to talk about these social issues. As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Michael found ways to appreciate Pride Month in quarantine. Along with all of us, he “learned how to celebrate within his home and stay connected,” finding time to call his friends, cook, and make new traditions. Inevitably, Pride could never be canceled. The sense of community is stronger than ever, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Michael has also been utilizing his platform to support the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting police brutality, and the racial injustices that are America and in his community. “I have been trying to leverage my platform to not only educate people about the ways they could help, but I’ve also been lucky to find an amazing group of leaders in the community (We Are the Movement LA) that I have been leading protests with,” Michael shared proudly. “We are trying to continue the movement and continuously make a change and speak out on injustices.” Love, Victor decided to move their release date two days earlier, to June 17th, so that the holiday of Juneteenth had its day in the spotlight. 

Michael Cimino wears Ferragamo.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Las Vegas, Nevada that residents must constantly dismiss. Raised in the Sin City himself, actor Michael Cimino could not deny it was an unusual place to grow up. But similar to the city, Michael described himself as “weird, fun, and impulsive.” As the city autographed permanent star qualities onto Michael, he left other dream jobs in the dust. Destined to pursue a career in acting, he sped through high school, taking classes virtually to fast track his theatrical dreams. Now at the age of 20, there is a sense of irony behind his new lead role in Love, Victor. Michael is transformed back into a teenager — portraying a 15-year-old entering his sophomore year at Creekwood High — this time around, his acting dreams are in fruition.

Michael Cimino wears Emporio Armani.

Love, Victor is brought to life by the same writers of the American teenage romance, Love, Simon — which has been acknowledged as the first gay coming-of-age movie released from a major studio. For this reason, the heartwarming spinoff is not only inspired by but set in the same universe as Love, Simon. Viewers will recall Nick Robinson's voice as it returns to the screen in his role as Simon Spier, but the main star this time is Michael Cimino as our new protagonist, Victor Salazar. Seamlessly, the 2020 series picks up after Simon graduated from Creekwood where he made his public declaration of love to his boyfriend, Bram. Victor walks the identical halls of Creekwood High, attends the same significant events like the Winter Carnival, and interacts with familiar characters featured in the original 2018 film — like quirky Ms. Albright and more. While Victor settles into his abrupt move from Texas to Atlanta, he reaches out to Simon over social media, hoping for advice due to similar internal conflicts of sexuality and identity. The messages between Victor and Simon help frame each episode and encourage Victor’s character development. Despite the relationships, lies, and love interests, will he finally be able to answer one important question: “Who is Victor?

At school, Michael revealed that Victor is “more of an introvert, it takes him a while to warm up to people.” His home life is complicated as tensions rise between his mother and father. He is the eldest child and embodies the role of the family fixer — the glue that holds everyone together. His religious Hispanic family prescribes to the prominent Machismo culture that is known to reject homosexuality. Unbeknownst to his family, Victor is still exploring his sexuality and, like most teens, still finding his voice. Victor relates to all audiences discovering their place in the world. Viewers can look forward to more heart-racing scenes with barista boy, Benji, and the high school cutie, Mia Brooks, as each episode gets closer and closer to discovering who Victor is.

Michael Cimino wears Louis Vuitton.

As for Michael, he took finding his voice literally, through his passion for singing. “I always wanted to be a singer... ever since I was a little kid,” he told VMAN. A member of his church knew this and one day asked the aspiring singer to join his acting class. Cimino agreed. Having several role models to look up to, Michael credits one, in particular, his older cousin Jon-Jon, who serves more as a brotherly figure. Michael describes him as a charismatic, funny, and outgoing gay man. Reminiscing, he says, “I just remember wanting and trying to be like him, trying to be a person that maybe has an impact on people.” He shares with honesty, “Jon-Jon is a huge reason why I am the person I am today;” crediting his cousin who welcomed conversations and shared personal experiences that helped to build the character of Victor.

Michael Cimino wears Emporio Armani, Ferragamo boots.

With his true calling of singing and acting established, younger Cimino began to find ways to relocate to the one place in the world he could make those dreams become a reality — Hollywood. At just fourteen-years-old, around the same time he entered high school, Michael also worked as an electrician. “And that's kind of how I funded myself to get out to Los Angeles.” Determined as ever, Michael began making a name for himself by acting in a variety of storylines from 2017 to 2020 including Training Day, Centurion XII, and Annabelle Comes Home. Feeling his genuineness through the phone, it was clear the excitement behind his first lead role was significant for many reasons. For one, the realization that his hard work was paying off. But in particular, because Love, Victor has been accredited for recognizing a major blind spot in regards to Latinx LGBTQ+  representation on screen. “Being [a]part of the production and [being] someone that can help inspire kids to be themselves is amazing to me and, that's what really attracted me to Victor and his story.”

Michael Cimino wears Moncler 2 1952 jacket + pants, Ferragamo boots

To further embody those values, he talks positively to himself with daily affirmations. “I try to fall in love with myself more and more every day...Because if I love myself it doesn’t really matter what everyone else thinks of me.” He enjoys conversing with fans, making jokes, and letting people joke on him. Laughing, Michael acknowledges, “I love —  it's kind of a bad thing to say — but I love being the butt of the joke.” Some days Michael listens to Motown and jumps on his bed. Other days he sings duets for his 165K followers on Instagram. But on an average day, he enjoys his newfound friends from the series or his family. 

Michael Cimino wears Louis Vuitton.

With Love, Victor released to the world, Michael reflects on the most powerful episode he had to film (E108) “Where Victor went to New York and met the whole gang so to speak.” The moment Victor was able to meet Bram, a queer man of color, helped him realize that there’s no one way to be gay. The actor who plays Bram in both Love, Simon, and Love, Victor is none other than Keiynan Lonsdale. With emotions running high as Michael was dealing with his personal life, and the shooting coming to an end, something else stuck with him from episode eight. Keiynan pulled Michael to the side and shared a heartfelt comment saying, “You know, they passed the torch to the right person.” Nick Robinson and the rest of the cast members agreed. 

Michael Cimino wears Emporio Armani.

Feeling honored, there is no doubt in our minds that Michael Cimino will be on more television screens soon. The writer’s room for Season 2 of Love, Victor is open. In the meantime, Michael wants you to continue making room for your voice, your identity, and your truth.

If you have yet to watch Love, Victor, get started by clicking here.

Credits: AT-HOME, EDITORIAL IMAGES OF MICHAEL CIMINO, LENSED BY CONNOR FRANTA FROM A SAFE DISTANCE.

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