The Get Down star Justice Smith came out as queer in a powerful Instagram post amid Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation. The 24-year-old also announced that he’s dating Queen Sugar actor Nicholas Ashe, 25, and the pair have been attending protests together in Louisiana. “@nckash and I protested today in New Orleans,” he captioned the June 5 Instagram photo, showing him and Nicholas kissing in a photo booth. “We chanted ‘Black Trans Lives Matter,’ ‘Black Queer Lives Matter,’ ‘All Black Lives Matter’. As a black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say Black Lives Matter, but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added.”
The actor made sure to use his platform to champion the black queer community, helping his more than 300,000 followers understand how to be a good ally. “I want to reiterate this sentiment: if your revolution does not include Black Queer voices, it is anti-black,” he wrote. “If your revolution is okay with letting black trans people like #TonyMcDade slip through the cracks in order to solely liberate black cishet men, it is anti-black. You are trying to push yourself through the door of a system designed against you, and then shut the door behind you,” Smith wrote. “It is in our conditioning to get as close to whiteness, straightness, maleness as we can because that’s where the power is. And if we appeal to it, maybe it’ll give us a slice.” Here are 5 things to know about Justice.
1. He said Nicholas has been his “guiding light” amid national outcry and protests. As the nation reacts to the tragic deaths of three unarmed Black citizens — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. — Justice said his new partner has been his “rock”, writing on Instagram, “There is so much tragedy on the timeline these last couple of days so I added some photos of me and Nic to show some #blackboyjoy #blacklove #blackqueerlove. You’ve been my rock and guiding light through all of this and I love you so much. I know that on the other side of this Is change, though the fight is far from over.” He also added a series of hashtags, including, “#justicefortonymcdade, #justiceforninapop, #justiceforgeorgefloyd, #justiceforahmaud, #justiceforbreonna, #sayhername, #defundthepolice and #endwhitesupremacy.”
2. He starred as Tim Goodman in Pokemon Detective Pikachu. When we spoke to Justice exclusively back in Aug. 2019, he revealed he was a longtime Pokemon fan. “I’ve been a huge Pokemon fan since I was a little kid,” he told HollywoodLife. “I actually still have all the original, first-generation Pokemon trading cards. My sister and I each had our own decks and we’d battle all the time even though we really didn’t know the rules. Maybe we didn’t know how to read them but we would make up our own rules and then we’d end up physically battling the cards. We were kids.”
3. Justice first caught the attention of fans in Paper Towns. Before he had hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, Justice starred alongside supermodel Cara Delevingne in the buzzy 2015 adaptation of John Green‘s novel. He portrayed Marcus in the flick, which helped him gain widespread notoriety.
4. He landed the lead role in The Get Down. Justice hit the big time when he scored the role of Ezekiel, a budding rapper in Netflix’s The Get Down. The series was the streaming service’s most expensive show ever, and he carried the Baz Luhrmann-directed hip-hop saga.
5. He appeared in another Netflix production in 2020. Justice starred opposite Elle Fanning in All The Bright Places, a new Netflix film based on a novel by Jennifer Niven. Set in the fictional town of Bartlett, Indiana, the pair come together through a school project, and struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past.