BWW Blog: Being A Transgender Actor In Today's Industry
What does being transgender mean in the context of theatre today? How do we overcome the strict challenges that come with it? Hello. My name is Cam Brillon, and I am currently a sophomore acting major at ECSU. All my life, theatre is something that I've felt a great affinity for. And like many of us, I decided to major in acting to attempt to make my dream a reality.
Like many of us, picking a school was a time of high emotion, and it seemed all too impossible. But, unlike most people I had a special barrier to cross. I am a transgender woman, who started transitioning in college. At 19, I knew that I had to not only get serious about helping my career, but also myself. It's been a hard year, but something tells me it may pay off eventually. So, back to my main question: What does being transgender in today's industry mean? Well, personally, I have seen many situations- both good and bad, where my identity was pushed to a (sometimes) uncomfortable forefront. It meant pushing myself and my own boundaries to put myself out there and go after a role I wanted, unapologetically so. It's super important to be open and communicative with the casting team first and foremost. It may seem daunting but it is completely worth it. We must define ourselves openly, in order to find our own success. Creating and challenging new boundaries as well as those centuries old is something we as trans actors can strive for. And it is not easy by any means.
Putting yourself out there is very scary. I remember my first audition I attended as my true self, and was met with a large pit in my stomach and the feeling of uncertainty and fear. However, in these moments, it may be best to channel your energy to your performance. Perhaps a combination of being nervous and or being annoyed your cab was driving too slow with no traffic in sight (we all have similar moments like this I'm sure) is what you needed to reach the heightened emotion in your audition pieces you couldn't quite reach earlier. It is so much easier said than done when it feels like everyone is staring at you, and you feel somewhat unwelcome.
As I mentioned earlier, I would challenge you to take a breath, and place some frustrations into your performance. I remember when I was in a space that was unwelcoming, it was hard to not get worked up, scared and lonely. But when it was my turn to go into the room, I tried to go in there and focus on my performance, and treated it as a task at hand. A task that I wanted to fulfill with authenticity and self-reliance. I walked out of there feeling okay, knowing that despite the atmosphere I at least tried my best. And that's all it takes.
As a world, we have barely scratched the surface of what it means to put diversity onstage. We have barely encompassed every voice. There are so many stories waiting to be told, and that is what truly makes humanity beautiful. So the next time you get scared, feel unwelcome or think the theatre world is not for you: Think again. You deserve to put yourself out there, and chase the roles you wish to perform. Of course know your own limits, but- your story matters. You and I deserve to tell our stories as trans people. By putting ourselves out there- we can redefine and shape a path for the LGBTQ performers that come after us. So take the power back. Stand firm in your truth and know that someday your voice and determination will be valued and heard, even if it seems impossible at first. And it is very hard. But as I always remind myself: "The only impossible things are the ones you let be impossible. If you want to make something possible, work hard, stand in your truth, and love yourself and your art. The rest will follow." Be kind, be patient, be courteous and most of all be kind to yourself. We have a long journey ahead, but it's one we can fight for with honor. In closing, I leave you with these words from Regina George: "Never apologize for being a boss."