Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What I’ve Been Saying…

There is a movie that has “ just finished its run on the independent film circuit and after racking up an impressive amount of critical acclaim and sweeping the 2014 FilmOut Festival,” it won the Best Director award here in Connecticut at the Connecticut Out Film Festival. The movie is your basic teenage boy meets girl, girl falls in love with another girl movie.

This is the leading actress film debut and when the director saw her in YouTube videos he know that he wanted to have her as his leading lady. Here is the film trailer…

In an interview Indie Wire interviewed Michelle Hendley the actress and Eric Schaeffer the director of the movie “Boy Meets Girl,”
Bent: How did each of you decide that you wanted to be involved with this project, and when did you come on board?
Schaeffer: I wanted to make a film that was in keeping with the themes that are important to me - finding love, being accepted for who you are unconditionally, breaking out of society’s narrow expectations of how one should live their life and what emotional/sexual life you're supposed to have based on how you identify gender and sexual orientation wise.

Hendley: For me it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. A transgender woman playing the role of a transgender woman in a film that authentically represents the trans experience is nothing short of revolutionary for my community. I was nervous as hell, but entirely too passionate about the story of BMG to back down from the role. I was ready to go as soon as I finished reading the script!
You got that? She is a trans-woman playing the part of a trans-woman, not a cisgender woman palying a trans-woman.

What does she think of cisgender women playing trans-women? In an interview with Claire-Renee Kohner of the website “The Column” she was asked,
How do you feel about roles like Maura [Jeffery Tambor] in Transparent or Rayon [Jared Leto] in Dallas Buyers Club going to cisgender actors?
I’m happy to see fabulous cisgender actors bringing visibility to trans issues, but I will be happier when I get to see those roles played by fabulous trans actors. Works like ‘Transparent’ and ‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ are helping more than they are hurting (in my opinion), but as long as my community is being represented by cisgender people there is more work to be done.

Why do it think trans-actresses and actors should play trans parts? I think Michelle Hendley answers to these questions says it best,
How much creative input were your able to provide to the Director in order to produce such a true-to-life character?
The story and character developments of BMG were Eric’s creations, but he and I collaborated when it came to Ricky’s character as a transwoman. Eric used my personal perspective and experiences to keep many of the issues discussed in the film authentic, and it was his attention to detail and willingness to listen to my input that made this project so amazing for me.

To what level of transphobia have you experienced in your life as compared to what your character experienced?
While I have yet to experience any physical violence because of my trans identity, I was teased and bullied in my formative years. Kids can be mean, and I think everyone faces some discrimination/ bullying growing up. I was just targeted for being very feminine. Nowadays I don’t really deal with petty teasing but there are individuals who simply refuse to accept me (or any trans person) for who/ what I am. I do not give these sorts of people much mind though, to be honest. I don’t have time for all that negativity.
A trans-actress/actor can draw on life experiences to help them. They know what it is like to walk into a room and feel the tension; they know what it is like to be shunned. While a heteronormative actress/actor cannot draw on their life experiences to understand what it is to live life on the margins.

Trans-actresses/actors should not be limited to just trans parts, they should be play cisgender parts also, just as other minorities should not be limited to playing minority parts. Most parts can be played by an actress/actor of any race, sexual orientation or gender identity.

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