The amazing success of Laverne Cox is a reminder that transgender performers are here, they’re talented, and their experiences need to be reflected on the large and small screen.
Too often trans actors don’t even get to portray their own community, losing out parts to cisgender actors who reap the benefits come awards season. Below are 12 trans actors we want to see hit it big.
Mya TaylorADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Taylor made a big impact with her performance in Tangerine, as well as appearing as LGBT pioneer Marsha P. Johnson in the short film Happy Birthday Marsha! about Johnson and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera.
Daniela VegaA Fantastic Woman
Vega is a 2017 breakout star: The star of Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, she plays Marina, a transgender woman who must fight accusations she murdered her older male lover.
The film, which has garnered critical acclaim, marks one of the few times a trans actress has played a lead character in a film. It went on to win Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars.
If the trans community is underrepresented overall, trans male actors are nearly impossible to find. But Phelan scored a recurring role on ABC Family’s The Fosters, as a transitioning teenager.
She quit The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but model Amiyah Scott got an even better gig when she joined the cast of Lee Daniel’s Star, as Cotton, the transgender daughter of Queen Latifah’s Carolotta.
Clayton, who co-hosted VH1’s TRANSform Me with Laverne Cox, was one of our favorite parts of Sense8, Netflix’s acclaimed sci-fi series from trans siblings Lana and Lily Wachowski.
More recently she’s appeared in The Neon Demon and the 2017 thriller The Snowman.
Harmony SantanaTibrina Hobson/Getty Images
In addition to playing supporting characters in two of the Eating Out films, Santana won an Independent Spirit award for her role as a trans teenager in 2011’s Gun Hill Road. More recently, she appeared on Amazon’s Transparent.
Elliot FletcherJason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAAD
Fletcher had recurring roles on MTV’s Faking It and Freeform’s The Fosters, as well as the first trans character on Showtime’s Shameless.
Kitana Kiki RodriguezAugusta Quirk / Magnolia Pictures
With co-star Mya Taylor, Rodriguez earned praise for her performance in Tangerine as a sex worker seeking revenge on a philandering lover. She told The Hollywood Reporter that she hopes Hollywood’s attention to trans issues “keeps coming in tidal waves.”
Michelle HendleyIlya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Hendley made her film debut in the romantic comedy Boy Meets Girl, and has made appearances on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and in the 2015 film The Player.
A veteran of film, television and theater, Billings has played transgender characters on Karen Sisco, ER, Eli Stone, How To Get Away With Murder and Grey’s Anatomy. She is perhaps best known for the role of Davina, a mentor to Maura on a Transparent.
A star of film and television in Spain since the 1970s, Fernández appeared in four films by queer auteur Pedro Almodóvar, including Matador and Law of Desire.
Ian HarvieTony Rivetti/ABCJason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD
Stand-up comic Harvie has appeared on Young & Hungry and had recurring roles on Mistresses and Transparent.