Wanted: Transgender actors for Hollywood, little experience required

Tue Aug 25, 2015 7:12am EDT
 
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By Jill Serjeant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When director Sean Baker was looking for transgender women to appear in his indie movie "Tangerine," he did not turn to a traditional talent agency. Instead, he found them through a Hollywood LGBT center.

As the producers of daytime CBS soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" were developing a transgender storyline this year, they approached the advocacy group GLAAD for leads on casting.

Fueled partly by acclaim for TV series such as "Transparent" and public fascination with the transition of former Olympic champion Bruce Jenner to a new life as Caitlyn Jenner, Hollywood is seeing a boom in movies, TV shows and reality series about transgender topics.

To meet the demand, casting directors and producers are often going through unorthodox channels to find transgender talent - experienced or not.

"As a transgender man myself, I see a lot of show runners coming to me and asking about any transgender actors I know of," said Nick Adams, director of programs for transgender media at the Los Angeles headquarters of GLAAD, which promotes lesbian, gay and transgender issues in the media.

"That's how it's been - a loose network of transgender people who have these databases of friends and acquaintances. Otherwise the casting system is just not set up to search for them," Adams said.

Laverne Cox, the transgender star of "Orange is the New Black," had acting training and professional credits before she was cast in the award-winning Netflix series set in a women's prison. But many of the new transgender faces in Hollywood are far less experienced.

Scott Turner Schofield, 34, spent years as a speaker on diversity issues and in regional theater before making his TV acting debut in May on "The Bold and the Beautiful" as the first transgender man in a major role on a U.S. daytime drama.   Continued...

 
Actress Laverne Cox poses backstage during the 2015 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California in this June 28, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Phil McCarten/Files