Sara Ramirez knows Che Diaz, the character they play on "And Just Like That ..." has been a polarizing figure, but Ramirez isn't letting it bother them.
"I’m very aware of the hate that exists online, but I have to protect my own mental health and my own artistry. And that’s way more important to me because I’m a real human being," Ramirez, who like Che identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, told The New York Times.
In the hit HBO series, which is a sequel to "Sex and the City," Che, a cocky comedian and podcast host, attracts the eye — and then the rest of — the heretofore heterosexual and married Miranda Hobbes.
The pair's joint storyline explores issues of sexuality, gender and monogamy. Falling in love with a younger queer person forces Miranda to question much of what she thinks she knows about herself.
But even if Che had never hooked up with Miranda, or any of Carrie Bradshaw's pals, Che's story still deserves to be told, Ramirez, 46, maintains.
"I’m really proud of the representation that we’ve created," said the "Grey's Anatomy" alum. "We have built a character who is a human being, who is imperfect, who’s complex, who is not here to be liked, who’s not here for anybody’s approval. They’re here to be themselves."
Yet, some viewers, including those in the LGBTQ community, have vented online about Che's brazenly self-assured personality and off-putting behavior. A writer for the queer news and culture site Them called Che a "caricature" created so the show's creators could score points for diversity. The Daily Beast dubbed Che “the worst character on TV.”
Some, however, have defended Che, like "Orange is the New Black" alum Lea DeLaria, who told the New York Post, “People have a real problem with non-gender-conforming individuals ... I don’t think it’s the show’s fault. I think it’s the audience’s fault.”
Ramirez wishes that "AJLT" viewers would keep in mind that the world is filled with all kinds of people, and some of them are thrilled to see a character like Che on television.
"I welcome the passion that folks are bringing to the table around this representation. But in real life, there are a lot of different human beings who show up to the table, speaking truth to power in myriad ways. And they all land differently with different people," they said.
"And Che Diaz has their own audience that they speak to who really get a kick out of what they’re doing."
As for what Che would make of all the hullabaloo about them, Ramirez believes Che would handle it with humor and compassion.
"I imagine Che would have something very witty and silly and funny as a rebuttal; something that ultimately reminds everyone that they are human; something with a sprinkling of self-deprecation, because I think they know they’re a narcissist. And maybe just a little reminder that no one’s perfect."