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The Fire Island star shares his top tips for the perfect summer, from beach reads to road snacks.

Actor Zane Phillips grew up in Colorado and Texas and is now based in New York. He made a name for himself on Legacies before getting his big break in last year’s hit rom-com, Fire Island. In it, he played Dex, a reimagining of Jane Austen’s Mr. Wickham, whom Austen described as having “a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address." His newest show, Glamorous, premieres on Netflix this summer.

So, first: how did the Fire Island project come about?

Zane: Years ago I’d seen Joel [Kim Booster] tweet about a gay Pride and Prejudice, and I was like…I want to manifest this. My mother is a big Austen fan, so I grew up watching all the adaptations. When I got the script I was like “Oh my god, this is it.” It was so clever and finely tuned.

Any favorite Fire Island spots?

There’s this place called the Sunken Forest, it’s a boardwalk in the woods, really peaceful…you can spend your entire time [on Fire Island] at the pool and going out, but I like that there’s an option to have space to yourself. In New York, where you’re never really alone, it’s invaluable.

Pride and Prejudice aside, what’s your favorite beach read?

One time I read The Wheel of Time series, this epic fantasy. By the time I got to the sixth book, I was in it whether I liked it or not, which is something I look for — big stories that keep you engrossed.

When you’re not reading, how do you relax between gigs?

I’m a big crossword guy. It's my morning ritual: I make my coffee and I do my puzzle. Also, since I’ve been [in Los Angeles], I’ve gotten very into queer line dancing. It’s a wonderful combination of my life growing up in Texas and my present life in the community…it’s so healing and fun.

Are you a big road trip guy, then?

Definitely. One of my favorite routes, which my family used to take a lot, is to go from central Texas out west to El Paso, through New Mexico and White Sands, to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and on through Colorado and into the mountains. I love driving in the West.

Will you share your top three tips for the perfect road trip?

Don’t be afraid to stop. The death of a road trip is pressure on time…if you have to pee, stop. If you see something interesting, stop. If you’re hungry, stop. At the end of the day, you’re going to make it to your destination. Make it comfortable for yourself. Match your music to your surroundings. If it’s summer, find music that feels bright, if it’s winter, find something more meditative. Or if it’s a podcast, theme it…I was driving through Tennessee and listening to Dolly Parton’s America. Whatever it is, create an experience for yourself. Make yourself start early. It lets you see the whole pathway of the sun, which is such a cool experience. And it’ll help with doing number one. 

Do you have a go-to road snack?

I like anything that’s sweet and salty. Normally, I bring a cooler, and put carrots and hummus and deli meat in there…I’m kind of famous among my friends for always having ham.

What’s your take on the idea of the “American road trip”?

America has a lot to work on, but being able to drive for hours and hours and see the way the landscape changes is one of the really unique things we have. You don’t have to leave the country to experience someone living a different way of life, and you’re not doing it from 32,000 feet in the air or through a screen — you’re seeing it with your own eyes. I think it’s a political act to take yourself out of your comfort zone like that.

Photographed by Ryan Pfluger
Interviewed by Kate Andersen