I think there's certainly a lot of people in many different areas that need to get their hands on this film and experience that.
Yeah, and I've been really overwhelmed in the best way possible about the response that we've gotten. Oh my god, it's so affirming as an artist to be telling stories that are really reaching people and touching people's lives and they're saying things like, "This movie saved my life." Can you imagine? Real life is really complicated, but when you have the power of storytelling you can pretty much take it in any direction you want, and you can give people hope and give people that sort of good feeling at the end of the film which, from what I've learned from audience members and people reaching out, they haven't really gotten before. And so I'm very, very proud and very humbled to have even just contributed a little bit to that story.
Something I think is so powerful and particularly unique about Boy Meets Girl is that nearly all the characters in the film are looking at sexuality in a different way. Even in so many queer films, there's an adherence to labeling sexuality specifically, but there's a refreshing attitude in Boy Meets Girl of not necessarily having to define it.
I definitely think the message of the film is beautiful. I'm definitely not saying that there isn't a need for these distinctions. I know that there's a dialogue that's very relevant in the LGBT community right now - especially between the queer millennials - to continue to use labels to create a community, to stand up and be counted, to have meaningful dialogue that's clear, and to continue to combat oppression.
I guess, for me personally, it's important for the growth and the evolution of our collective identity to make room for the multiplicity of ways of identifying and interacting with the world, and I think that is highlighted in our film. I think there's only one moment in the film where we try to break that down, and my character Francesca is asking Ricky, 'Does this make me gay? Am I bicurious? What's my new label?' It was sort of an exciting moment, 'I have a new identity, what does it mean for me?' We couldn't really think of an answer, and I think the answer was 'We're human?' We're human. And I remember me and Michelle sort of burst out laughing because we thought, 'Oh boy, this is a little Hallmark moment,' but it made us laugh genuinely because we both really loved that moment, and we understood the importance of it. And that's sort of the underbelly of the beast of the whole film.
And this is Michelle's first feature film, right? You'd never know!
Yeah, this is like Michelle's first acting, period. I'm blown away by that girl. She's pretty much just one of those people that actors hate because she just shows up on set and she's a total natural. And we're like, 'Oh my god, we've been training for years, we've spent hundreds of dollars on acting teachers!' She's great. And she's a great person too, we've had a lot of fun. It was basically one of those stories where a Hollywood director calls you up and says, 'Hey kid, want to be in a movie?' and she said, 'Uh, sure!' Like, that never happens!
There has been so much more representation of trans characters and trans stories in the last few years, looking at shows like Transparent and really even in just last few days with Bruce Jenner's 20/20 interview. Something that often becomes a discussion is the importance of, in many situations, trans actors playing trans characters. Why would you say it's important that trans actors play trans characters?
I don't think I can say any better than the sedacious Laverne Cox. To paraphrase her, 'Visibility matters when it can save lives. When it has the ability to change hearts and minds.' Now, as an actor I think it's so complicated because you don't necessarily have to have the experience to play a part. But in the case of trans actors, I think, speaking as an artist, whatever person is right for the role is who should play the role. We can never know how somebody identifies - it's impossible to know how an actor identifies just because they haven't made it public. So we can never say that 'You're absolutely not right for this part because you haven't had this experience!' How do we know? We never know what an actor goes through. But what I will say is that there are plenty of trans actors and there is a growing number of television shows that are starting to include trans characters and trans story lines. Why not go to the actor who might know this experience deeply, know it better than anybody else? That might not always be true, but my opinion is whatever actor is best for the part should get the part and in many cases - in many cases - that will be a trans person for a trans role.
I'm sure that people are going to love your work in Boy Meets Girl. What can we catch you in coming up next?
I'm actually have a really big year! You can't always say that, but I can this year, which is great. I have five feature films coming out this year. The next film you'll be able to see me in is Body. It just got a theatrical release, and I'm playing probably the antithesis of Francesca. She's this super alpha girl, a bit sociopathic queen bee who I don't think smiles once, as opposed to Francesca whose face is permanently in a big smile with big wide eyes. So you can catch me in Body, and also in the television show that I'm on right now, Red Oaks. It's on Amazon, so I'll be in pretty good company with shows like Transparent. We're about to shoot the rest of the series of Red Oaks, but the pilot is available now!