Over the course of five seasons, audiences saw Ayuso’s character struggle with his sexuality, come out to his religious parents, help solve some of the sultry thriller’s over-the-top mysteries, and get into a series of sizzling escapades with fellow hunks Manu Ríos and Arón Piper.
With the show’s rabid success and his handsome good looks, the out Spaniard quickly became a hit with fans and found himself stepping into his new role as an international heartthrob.
After exiting the show following the traumatic events of the season 5 finale, Ayuso shocked viewers in the best way possible when he returned for season 7 earlier this year.
With Élite set to sign off with its upcoming 8th and final season, Ayuso is getting ready to say goodbye (again) to his beloved queer character and the groundbreaking series.
In the midst of filming Élite‘s last two episodes, Queerty got the chance to exclusively speak to Ayuso as he reflected on his time on the show, including dropping tea on filming those passionate bedroom romps, gave insight on how his character will factor into the series finale, and where he’d like to see his career go as he enters his post-Élite era.
In his personal life, Ayuso opened up about being seen as a gay role model, how his celebrity status has affected his relationships, why he’s trying to step back from sharing thirst traps, and the surprising way he spends his nights.
You and your character on Élite have the same first name and both identify as gay. In what way are you most unlike your character Omar Sanaa?
Well, the truth is that there are many ways in which I am different from my character. It is true that there are some labels, so to speak, such as the name, the sexual orientation, but in reality it is a character that is far from what I am. I think what differentiates me most is that my character is a person who lives very much depending on others and in how his family, his friends, his partners think and say about him. And I, on the other hand, I believe, have been making a personal path to live according to myself.
And how are you similar to Omar?
We both have a very intense way of experiencing emotions.
Élite has made visibility a priority by including multiple LGBTQ+ characters and storylines. How does it feel knowing you being an out actor playing an out character has been a source of inspiration for so many queer viewers, especially younger ones?
I know that my own existence as a gay person, as a gay actor playing a gay character is a point of reference for a lot of people. But I don’t really do anything for that. I’m just me and the representation that I bring is the representation that I carry out in my day-to-day life in a natural way and by choice. Yes, I think there is a moment in which you decide when you are a public figure, how you publicly represent your values, your ideals, your way of being, what you show and what you don’t show, why you show certain things and why you hide certain other things. And I have decided that as much as possible, I will take advantage of the visibility I have to give light to those places that I want to give light to in my day-to-day life.
It is true that I think Élite is a format that for the characters and the situations it depicts it gives a lot of visibility to certain realities, but I do believe that it is not necessarily the best way to represent them. In the end, Elite is an entertainment series. It’s a thriller. It’s like a drug, something to pass the time. It’s a pretty aesthetic. And I think that along the way it has managed to represent some realities, but I think it is not the main function of the series. At the least, it is not the series that I would show my children if I wanted to educate them about certain realities.
Élite is also known for its steamy sex scenes and you’ve had your share with co-stars Manu Ríos, Arón Piper, and Fernando Lindez. While it is fun for viewers to watch, is it difficult being so vulnerable on camera?
It depends on each actor and on the general physical insecurities they may have. There have been times when the sex scenes have been more stressful because I had more physical complexes and did not like the way I looked and did not want to be seen that way. And then there are other times when I’ve handled it better.
I am not very shy about nudity and don’t usually have a hard time filming these scenes. Generally I have been fortunate to have a very good relationship with the other actors with whom I have to do them. They are also technical scenes and the crew helps us a lot so that we feel comfortable. In addition, an intimacy coordinator works with the actors throughout the rehearsal process, the construction of the scenes and during the filming so that the limits set by each actor are met. If you as an actor are embarrassed to say no to certain things, they will say it in your place.
Speaking of nudity, you’ve spoken out about trying to step back from social media in part because of how it is so hypersexualized and often leads to comparing ourselves to what we see. Have you found a healthier way to maneuver online?
I am a person, like everyone else, quite contradictory. Although it is true that my intention is to hypersexualize myself as little as possible and consume social media in the best possible way, the process of change is one step forward, three steps back. And in the process of trying to use social media in a healthier way for myself, there is also the contradiction in that nudity can be artistic and I like to express it in that way. The truth is I don’t really know and am still currently on a journey of finding a way to relate to all of this in a healthy way.
Have you begun to process that the end of Élite is on the horizon with the upcoming eighth and final season?
I’m actually in the midst of working on the final two episodes of the series so it is very fresh. What I am very excited about is that as an original character from season one I have a very important role in these last two chapters and they have written some great scenes and some goodbyes. As an actor I am taking a lot of responsibility and I am very excited about the role that my character is going to have in the last season. But to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m saying goodbye to the series because I already said goodbye when I left at the end of the 5th season. Although much of the team is the same, for me the original series is the original cast. While I am still on Élite, for me it is like another project. It’s actually like I’m doing a spin-off.
And I imagine your life changed so much in the five years since Élite premiered that coming back for season 7 must have felt vastly different.
Did your life change a lot from age 20 to 25?! Everything has changed, of course. And in the most fortunate of ways. Now I relate to the series in a more professional way, in the sense that now it’s my job. When I was doing the series before, which was the first thing I had done, it was my life. Everything was the series. The series took up all my concern, my attention, my joy, my validation. And now it doesn’t. Now the series is one part of my life and that’s it. Before, if I had a bad day on the set I would take it home. Now I can have a bad day on the set, but when I leave for home it stays there and my real life begins.
On a personal level, has the fame made it harder to make friends or find a romantic partner?
I am discovering now that yes, because as a good human being of the 21st century, I tend to self-deception, to cover up, to not feel emotions, to try not to feel negative emotions. And I thought that fame had not contaminated my way of relating to others. I am now discovering that it does. I also think that in general, famous or not, our way of relating to each other is quite unhealthy. Because of the context in which we live, because of social media, because of everything we’ve been talking about, right? And I am now starting to relate in a healthy way. I think it also has to do with age and with calmness and having peace of mind.
Looking ahead past Élite, are there any particular actors or directors you’d like to work with?
Well, there are a lot of them. It’s true that in the last year I’ve been able to work with people with whom I really wanted to work in theater. I’m going to start rehearsing something for next year, which I’m really looking forward to with an actress who is my favorite Spanish actress and with a theater director I really like. This year I have been lucky enough to shoot a series that has been incredible, with a wonderful director named Javi Giner and some amazing colleagues. The series is called Yo Adicto for Disney Plus, which premieres next year and I have a pretty, pretty strong character. But I do want to work. I want to work with everybody.
Are you interested in doing comedies or something completely different that you have in the past?
Well, as I told you I’m very intense emotionally, so what I usually like the most is drama. But it’s true that when I’ve done comedy – this year I’m in a movie called On the Go in which I get to be funny–I have a lot of fun and I think I do it pretty well. But what I really want to do is to make a drama film. That’s what I would like to do next.
One last question. What’s your guilty pleasure or something about you that people would be surprised about?
I don’t really have a guilty pleasure because I think everything has value and can co-exist. I think people may think I have a much more glamorous, exciting and fun life than I do. I actually have a very normal, very routine life and go to sleep very early every night.
While a premiere date for the eighth and final season of Élite has yet to be announced, all previous seven seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix.
This interview has been translated from Spanish, edited, and condensed for clarity.