By James Maloney
There is so much diversity and equality in the film industry. Many movies and TV shows have great representation of the LGBTQ+ community.
This is a brilliant step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done in regard to how they are portrayed in some or all shows and movies. There are things that desperately need to be fixed in the industry.
Cis people tend to get all of the roles that do not relate to them.
This came under criticism with people calling Sia an ‘ableist’ for giving the role to Maddie rather than someone who is autistic. It felt like a sort of insult, in the sense of how Maddie had portrayed those with autism in the movie when that surely is not the case at all.
Maddie had come forward when talking about the role and said that she felt uncomfortable playing the character as she knew it would come across as offensive to autistic people.
Sia came forward in a tweet regarding a specific scene in the movie where there are restraints used on Ziegler’s character. This caused a lot of backlash.
“I plan to move the restraint scene from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough… I’m sorry”.
It is said that Sia had actually hired an actress who has autism herself to perform the role but was fired and replaced with Maddie. The actress supposedly found working on the film “unpleasant and stressful” but instead of finding ways to support her and make the environment more comfortable for her, she was recast.
But when it comes to transgender roles in movies, they are not highly spoken about. Or barely for a matter of fact. Many transgender actors have been pushed to the side and have had to watch cis actors/actresses play the roles of a character who is trans, without fully relating to it. It simply is not fair that they are given the roles and are having to pretend as though they relate to the struggles and hardships of what trans people go through on a daily period.
Not many trans actors/actresses may want to play trans roles in movies or shows, as some might just enjoy playing the cis role, and they should rightfully be allowed to do that as well if they so choose to. This has caused many trans actors difficulties finding roles nowadays in the industry, as the roles have either been taken by cis straight actors or the company they are auditioning under may not cast them solely because they are transgender. This last point however is debatable.
Laverne Cox, the well-known and well-loved American actress, shared her story of her transition as a transgender woman playing the role of Sophia Burset on the popular TV show Orange Is the New Black.
She has spoken up about her transition throughout the years and has been an inspiration for many transgender individuals. She is one of many amazing transgender actors that have been able to play the roles of characters who are also transgender and can fully relate to it in order to connect to the characters.
Despite having made amazing progress in being in movies and shows, and getting a lot of recognition within the industry, many transgender actors/actresses have found it difficult to get a job.
Actress Trace Lysette is one of the most famous transgender actresses in Hollywood. The actress recently lost her health insurance in 2018.
She played in many amazing and interesting roles alongside famous names such as Jennifer Lopez, RuPaul and Caitlyn Jenner. Despite this, she has faced difficulties. She did not earn enough to be eligible for health insurance.
It is a hard thing to go through especially when you are gaining so much popularity in roles in movies or TV shows.
Lysette had spoken up about her struggles of being a trans woman in the acting industry,
She said to IndieWire that:
“It’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s very telling of how hard it is to be a trans woman in the industry.
“It’s an odd thing when you walk down the street and people come up to you with tears in their eyes and regarding your work and telling you how much your representation means to them.
“And you look at your bank account and it’s like… ‘what the f**** is happening?’ it’s not adding up really”.
Many trans actors who audition for a role in a movie or a show are sometimes knocked back or are told straight to their face “you’re not trans enough”. What does that even mean?
Many get knocked back for cis character roles never mind also being refused a trans character role?
Make it make sense, Hollywood.
Transgender actors/actresses are not the only ones who are suffering from discrimination within the acting industry. People of colour are being poorly represented within LGBTQ+ movies or short films. And the number of transgender characters represented in the films is still really low for the third year in a row.
Statistics have shown that in 2019, only 34% of LGBTQ+ characters were people of colour. This is a significant decrease to the 57% of LGBTQ+ characters of colour in 2017. This statistic has only gone down over the years and it needs to change immediately. This particular group of actors/actresses are the most targeted in the industry purely for their skin colour and sexual orientation/gender.
This goes for disabled actors too. They are not being represented enough in movies or are being played by actors who do not suffer those disabilities and are instead being given those roles without actually fully understanding the extent of actually living with that disability.
But it is said that there is slightly more representation in the sense that disabled actors are actually now being cast in disabled roles.
In the popular show ‘Sex Education’ actor George Robinson is the first disabled character in the show, making his debut in season 2. He plays Isaac and is known for his wit and sarcastic comments.
The show is Robinsons’ first ever acting job. The actor was sadly involved in a rugby accident a few years ago which resulted in him being tetraplegic, but regardless he is excited for his future in acting.
Overall, the acting industry is overrun by cis straight actors. While nothing is wrong with this, it is not fair that they get all the limelight and all the credit when other acting groups are not getting any recognition for the hard work that they do.