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In season four of Transparent, your scene at the drag pageant in the Valley was really fun and touching. It was wonderful, because my roots as a teen were spent performing in the drag bars of Dayton, OH.
Drag was not only my introduction to womanhood, but my introduction to entertainment.
I danced all over Manhattan for eight years — for ball players, CEOs, hood dudes… And that was so not a safe space where I could talk about being trans. And when I got out, a male friend of mine was like, “Yo, you need to invest in yourself.
I would literally go into character when I would go into work, and monitor my slang and my mannerisms. I had a bad breakup with a boyfriend, and I left the club one night and slit my wrists on a side street in Midtown. You have so much potential, you gotta do this acting thing.” I was like, “You’re right.
I eventually went to Thailand and had my bottom surgery, came back, and auditioned to work in cis strip clubs.
I decided to keep my business to myself, and to get by on my passability.
In an interview with PAPER, you hinted that this season would address the unfinished business between Shea and Josh — but that isn’t happening. Maybe there was too much footage and they had to cut some things. At what point did you start to channel your energy into performing and dance? When you transition from male to female, sometimes you can get caught up in the vanity of it all.
I was disappointed, but maybe in season five we’ll see some closure for Shea and Josh — or even just Shea winning without Josh! I got to choreograph a halftime dance with the cheerleading squad, which was all-female, at my high school. We did this whole routine to “Maria Maria” by Santana, and “Thong Song” by Sis Qó — it was a mix. I was so focused on getting my outside shell “correct.” That was drilled into my head by my elders, like, “You have to be passable. You have to use your only resource, which is your body.” After I lost my job at Bloomingdale’s because they wouldn’t allow me to use the women’s restroom, I was a working girl in the Village.
My own experience of dating cis-hetero men has really been a challenge, because of the stigma they have to endure for attempting to love us.
We were paying homage to the Queen Mary, which was this iconic club back in the day in Los Angeles.
Last season, the road trip episode with your character Shea and Josh was a real highlight.
It starts off sweetly enough, with flirtatious foreplay in a roadside diner and hand-holding at an abandoned water park.
But after Shea, a trans woman, discloses that she’s HIV-positive, Josh’s perma-adolescent blundering and crude objectification results in an ugly argument.
” Lysette said recently, reflecting on the scene over the phone. This fall she brings a little “Delta Burke realness” to Transparent's fourth season, as an entirely new character — pageant queen Celine, who appears in a touching flashback.