Interview by Anna Altheide
What musical had the biggest impact on you growing up?
Rent. This was the first musical theatre show that talked about or even addressed AIDS at all. It was my first exposure to what AIDS was; and the musical talked about it at a time where it was mocked and actively ignored by the government. I saw gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans folks, sexually fluid folks and relationships that fell outside of cisgender heteronormative monogamy. I finally felt like there was space for me, even before my identity was fully realized.
What’s your dream role and why?
I feel as though my dream role is one that doesn’t exist yet; the character I’d play uses they pronouns; they are trans and non binary, and the story doesn’t focus on that aspect necessarily—it more so accepts that as the reality. The new ‘norm’. A world in which trans folks are accepted and not killed for existing. But if I had to pick-my dream role in a pre-existing musical it would be Hedwig or trans Orpheus in Hadestown. I mean, come on.
How do you believe your identity has played a part in developing your current career?
As an actor part of your job is to bring yourself and your experiences to life in an audition room, on stage, and on screen. I believe you need to be grounded in who you are; not necessarily know definitively who or what you are (because we are fluid in so many ways) but at least have examined how you relate to/walk through the world. It’s obviously a privilege in itself to have this awareness where you can access emotions and self reflection—but if you do have it; I believe it’s important to examine your morals and your privileges. Get into your core.
I’ve had the privilege to safely examine and actualize my identity, play with my gender presentation and (for the most part) be accepted and seen. This is humbly and gratefully owed to Black, Brown and Indigenous trans women and queer people of color who have paved the way for me, and others like me.
Stepping into my identity allowed and continues to allow me to bring my full self in the room. Into every room. It allows me to speak truths to myself and therefore translates to my relationships, my craft, my whole life. I think people in this career can sense the truth you bring to the room. Being unapologetically and authentically me always and all ways. Not bending to fit the mold that the cis-white-het patriarchy has created for this society and therefore this industry.
What advice or wisdom would you give your younger self, or a young person in a similar situation?
Keep. Being. You. (If you feel safe.) Someone will see you. I mean, really see you. Even if you don’t see yourself in different forms of media in a positive way, someone along the way will. It’s difficult, but keep carving out the space for yourself. Keep fighting for yourself and keep uplifting other marginalized folks around you. Fight for them. Keep unlearning, and keep relearning. Oh, and listen. Listen to those who are marginalized. Always.