As per recommendation by Walker, I watched the film 'Tangerine' to see a fresh narrative with transgender characters. From a plot line standpoint alone, I was amazed at seeing the film not only having central, rich transgender characters, but also seeing these characters played by transgender actors. We are quickly seeing more and more trans characters displayed on film (Transparent's Maura played by Jeffrey Tambor; The Danish Girl's Einar played by Eddie Redmayne) but the bigger question is: why aren't many of these productions employing transgender talent? Yes, there is Laverne Cox, who is currently at the forefront of popular culture, but as 'Tangerine' actress Mya Taylor said in her Spirit Awards acceptance speech (for which she was the first transgender actor to win a major film award) “There is transgender talent. There’s very beautiful transgender talent,” the 24-year-old actress said. “So you better get out there and put it in your next movie.".
So that leads me to one of the bigger questions I aim to answer in my documentary: what problems arise when cisgender actors are hired over transgender ones? If there is so much talent out there, why is Hollywood not employing them? On a further note: what are the benefits to being more inclusive in media? I'm not saying that Eddie Redmayne and Jeffrey Tambor aren't talented actors who have put their all into depicting their characters, but I do think that the lack of representation in film, tv, media, etc does have a negative impact on both social perceptions of transgender people and impacts on individuals who are trans or gender questioning viewing this media.
On an interesting production note, not only did Tangerine have talent that both worked in front of the camera and behind the scenes, but it was also completely shot on an iPhone. It just goes to show that you do not necessarily need fancy equipment to make a meaningful, amazing, and visually appealing production. The filmmakers go into greater depth at how they achieved a visually interesting film in the video below: