Laverne Cox and Jeffrey Tambor had a message for television executives at the Emmys last night: Cast more transgender actors and actresses.
Tambor won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. While accepting the award for his portrayal of a transgender woman on Amazon’s Transparent, Tambor made a plea for industry decision-makers to rethink casting cisgender performers, like himself, in such roles in the future.
“To you people out there—you producers and you network owners and you agents and you creative sparks,” Tambor, who took home the same award at the 2015 Emmys ceremony, said in his acceptance speech. “Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions, give them their story. Do that. And also one more thing: I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television. We have work to do. I love you.”
Laverne Cox later repeated Tambor’s call-to-action while presenting the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, which went to Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinksi for Grease: Live.
“Give trans talent a shot,” the Emmy-nominated Orange Is the New Black actress told the audience gathered inside Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater. “I would not be here tonight if I was not given that chance.”
While there has been a small but noticeable increase in the number of transgender characters represented on TV and in films over the past couple of years, these roles are often given to cisgender actors (Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent, Matt Bomer in Anything, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl), effectively shutting trans people out of their own onscreen representation. A number of trans people in the industry have spoken out against the practice, including Her Story creator Jen Richards, Tangerine star Mya Taylor, and Transparent actress Hari Nef.