There’s a chance that a little bit of Hollywood history could be made later this month if Kitana Kiki Rodriguez or Mya Taylor are nominated for Oscars, as it would be the first time a transgender actor has been given such an honour. The movie’s director Sean Baker has been out there fighting their corner, including an interview with TheWrap where he says, “The most important thing to me is the recognition of Mya and Kiki. I don’t care about my nomination or any of that stuff, I just want a budget for my next film. Mya and Kiki delivered and showed they have talent.”
Baker is also keen to point out that while some of Tangerine was inspired by events Rodriguez and Taylor knew of or were involved in, they very much gave performances in the movie and didn’t just extend their own personalities to the role. He says, ‘This is not a one-off for them. They’re barely playing themselves, no matter what people think. Like every actor in every movie, you have characteristics of one’s own persona in the character, but they’re not playing themselves…
“Kiki is a sweetheart and she’s barely taking part in this campaign. She’s a very shy and introverted person, and Mya is very different from her character too. My hope is that people recognize their great talent so they can parlay this into their dreams and their futures… Now that more trans roles are being written, it’s time to look at trans actors who can play these roles.”
Baker also adds that he thinks it’s unnecessary to have a specific award for Transgender actors, saying, “The best thespian should win the award. This is how I see it – Mya and Kiki are women and they should be recognized as women, so if those gender-based categories exist then they should be nominated under the Best Actress category.”
It is believed that this is the first time a distributor has launched a major campaign in the hope of getting a transgender actor an Oscar nomination. Some have suggested that Mya Taylor may get a nomination even if her co-star misses out. However, they both deserve it, as they put in tremendous performances in the movie, which follows two transgender sex workers over the course of an increasingly difficult day. It’s a movie filled with humour, emotion and a depiction of transgender people which stretches far past stereotypes, despite being about sex workers. You can read our review of the film here.