Tangerine co-star Mya Taylor made a bit of awards history today at the Spirit Awards, becoming the first transgender performer to pick up a major film acting award. She was given the Best Supporting Female nod for her role in Sean Baker’s low-budget indie.
“No one tells you how nervous you’re going to be when you’re up against other great actors for an award,” said Taylor, who prevailed in a category that included Robin Bartlett for H, Marin Ireland for Glass Chin, Jennifer Jason Leigh for Anomalisa and Cynthia Nixon for James White.
Her speech was one of the highlights of a somewhat mellow Spirit Awards show, hosted by Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani. Case in point: Said Taylor onstage about when she was told Tangerine was to be shot using iPhones, “The first thing I thought, ‘The movie ain’t gonna be sh*t.”
Taylor told the press backstage that she applied for 186 jobs and went on 26 interviews over two years in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t get a job because my name and gender weren’t changed on my employment application. When this opportunity came (with Tangerine), it was like it was given by God and it made up for all the struggles I went through.”
She also responded to a comment about how society and the media has become more open to transgenders: “There has been a shift,” she said backstage. “More people are being open about different genders and races. Years ago we avoided the topic… it was an age of sexism.”
Taylor now lives in North Dakota, one of the reasons being that Los Angeles “reminds me of the struggles I went through. But I still have those memories and want to live far away.” She said she is developing her own TV series, which she promises will be education and dramatic, just like Tangerine.
Taylor said onstage that “there is transgender talent,” adding to the crowd full of producers under the tent in Santa Monica, “you better get out there and put it in your next movie.”
Watch her acceptance speech above.