Antoni Porowski, one of the famed Fab Five from Netflix’s reboot of “Queer Eye,” joined a panel of Arizona State University students from the organization Changemaker Central at the Student Pavilion in Tempe to discuss teamwork, mental health and the LGBTQ community on Oct. 6.

As well as being a member of the Fab Five, Porowski is a cookbook author and LGBTQ rights advocate in Poland, his native country. His focus on the show is cooking. He teaches the nominated “heroes” how to prepare a dish for themselves or for loved ones.

When asked to describe his “origin story,” Porowski notes that he has always had a sense of connection with the Marvel character, Silver Surfer.

“I felt like there was something kind of lonely about him as he traveled through all the different galaxies on his surfboard,” he said. “Then he discovered the Fantastic Four, and I feel like he found a sense of purpose or meaning, which happened to me when I was 29, so I have always related very strongly with him.”

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Porowski said he was a very independent person before joining the cast of “Queer Eye.” He explained that he had always participated in sports and activities. He only had to rely on himself and wanted to pursue a career in acting before auditioning for the reality TV show. By working in a team with four other men to re-vamp a hero’s lifestyle, Porowski had to learn how to become part of a team.

“I never thought that I would really learn how to be collaborative, I always saw myself as the Siver Surfer, and then I met the Fantastic Four,” he said. “Just the idea of teamwork is a good reminder that you’re never too old to learn how to change or be different, as long as you have willingness to change and be open-minded.”

Poland’s government is very closely tied to the Catholic church, so Porowski explains that this is the reason for many anti-LGBTQ laws imposed in the country. Porowski has dedicated his platform to LGBTQ advocacy and is currently working with the Equaversity Foundation to raise funds to support the LGBTQ community in Poland.

“I strongly identify with Poland as a country and in terms of my cultural background,” he said. “So I feel like I have a responsibility to speak up for those people and to practice visibility as well.”

When asked to give advice to his 21-year-old self, Porowski reflected on his college years and explained that he wishes his mental health was more of a priority.

“I put so much pressure on myself because I thought that I had to be this thing, but I don’t really know who I was trying to do that for,” he said. “I wish I were gentler on myself. I was so hard on myself about things I had no control over.”

Sivan Plotkin, a non-binary student at ASU, said that queer representation in ASU’s presenters and speakers helps them feel more welcome.

“It’s so nice to have the community represented in such a positive way,” they said. “Antoni Porowski is such a good role model, listening to advice coming from his personal experience is so refreshing.”

As a psychology major and queer student, Gabby Soriano explained that Porowski’s speech helped her better understand her own mental health.

“The biggest thing Antoni said that resonated with me the most as a psych major I think was the need for rest. I admire him for knowing exactly what he needs to unwind and create a balance between work and life,” she said. “We live in a world that puts hustle culture on a pedestal, and to hear someone being open about not always being productive and taking breaks when needed was refreshing. I also loved how open and encouraging he was about going to therapy.”