If the NBC/Netflix show Champions got praise for anything, it was for the young actor playing Michael Patel, the gay teen dropped on the doorstep of the father and uncle he barely knew. The New York Times even said, “It’s a lot for a child character, but the young Mr. Totah is superb: His comic energy is astoundingly well calibrated, and he allows just enough genuine humanity to show through Michael’s haughty, campy fieriness.”
However, we now know that the Times, and indeed everyone else, has (inadvertantly) been using the wrong pronouns, as the actor who played Michael, Josie Totah, has revealed she is a transgender female and prefers her/she/hers.
Writing in Time, Josie refers to the fact many just assumed she was a cisgender young, gay man, saying that, “I feel like I let myself be shoved into a box: ‘J.J. Totah, gay boy’… In the past, I’ve halfway corrected people by telling them I identify as LGBTQ. I wasn’t ready to be more specific. I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted, that I would be embarrassed, that the fans who knew me from the time when I acted in a Disney show would be confused. But I realized over the past few years that hiding my true self is not healthy. I know now, more than ever, that I’m finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself. I’m ready to be free. So, listen up y’all: You can jump on or jump off. Either way this is where I’m heading.
“My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”
She also talks about the impact watching the doc-series I Am Jazz had on her, which follows the life of trans teen Jazz Jennings. Josie also talks about how she is off to college, but also intends to keep acting.
Sadly that won’t include any more Champions, which was cancelled following its first season. You can read Josie’s full essay over at Time.