Jamie Clayton (Sense8) talks trans representation at ClexaCon London
Jamie Clayton visited ClexaCon London and I was happy she did. What a burst of energy she is! After watching her in Sense8 and Same Same, I loved finding out what she is like in real life. The interview led to some funny moments, I can tell you. Jamie discussed her career, the roles she would like to play, what trans roles she would like to see in the next ten years, how she feels about trans and non-trans actors playing trans roles, and how much she loves her Sense8 friends.
Most of the interview can be read below but honestly, it was too much to write everything down. So, if you want to know everything Jamie Clayton talked about, please watch the video below this image!
In terms of benchmarks for trans visibility, what are the main benchmarks we should look for in the next ten years?
Jamie Clayton: We are diving right in! What I would like to see is… I think that society still has a problem differentiating between gender identity and sexual identity. Who I identify as is totally different than who I sleep with.
I think with trans characters, especially transfeminine characters, there is this reluctance. Because I do not think society sees trans women as women and trans man as men. I want to see a trans woman in a relationship with a man. For instance, I am straight and I want to see that on television but for some reason, there is this resistance to it.
I am speaking about America because that is where I live. And so, there is this resistance to if there is a transwoman is with a man. All of the sudden, you know, all this stuff about sexuality comes into question and all this rubbish is attached to gender and sexuality and people do not know the difference. Yes, we need more representation but I would like to see a broader spectrum of relationships within those characters.
Now that Sense8 is over, what sort of projects are you ready to move onto now? What will be the next thing?
Jamie Clayton: Whoever will have me! [laughs] No, I mean, I am picky. Because Sense8 was so great and because Nomi was… I mean, I am the first actor who happens to be trans to book a lead, which I did not know. I recently did a documentary called Disclosure, which will soon be coming out and it is great. They informed me that I was the first lead. There have been plenty of recurring characters and guest stars and all that “business talk.”
But yeah, I was the first lead and so the next thing that I go do has to have some substance to it. The character cannot just exist because of their transness. Of course, I would love to play a character that does not identify as trans but then there is this whole hierarchy in Hollywood and how that plays out.
I just want to work. I just want to work and do something good and substantial. And I want to be challenged as an actor. I want to be given the same opportunity as any other actress who is coming off of a lead of several seasons of a show would be given. That is what I want.
What currently existing character would be your dream role?
Jamie Clayton: Oh, I would not want to knock anyone out of a role that they have already got. There is so much television that I love. I watch so much television. There is nothing I detest more than an actor who wants to be on television but who does not watch television. I watch everything. If there is a show that I can be on… No, I want to be on a new show that no one knows. And I want to be the lead on it. And I want to play someone complicated and fun and sexy and funny. Want to do something, eh, what show?
[what genre? Maybe that is easier?]
Jamie Clayton: Oh! Well, I would love to do a comedy. [Jokes:] One of my managers thinks I am really funny [laughs]. I want something drama/thriller. I would love to play a drug dealer or a drug addict or a psychopath or I mean, something, you know, really true to who I am. [laughs] No, I am kidding. Oh my God, why am I so nervous?
Me: Can I ask a follow-up question? I heard Kat Barrell saying today: “I did not want to wait for the phone call, so I started creating things myself.” Would that be something you are interested in?
Jamie Clayton: [Nods] There are plenty of actors who do that. I do not fancy myself a writer or if those opportunities come up. But right now, I just want to act. I think that there is good stuff out there. There is good material and I have faith that there are people writing things that are good, especially if a character identifies as trans. I feel like there are scripts that exist where it is good.
And now, with so many women, so many people of color, so many women of color, so many queer women being given opportunities to, who are producers and writers, like Lena Waithe and Ava DuVernay… With all of these women being given opportunities, I feel like I am this close.
But who knows, maybe one day I will write something, direct something, produce something, it is all there. But for now, I just want to act.
What are your thoughts on non-gay actors playing gay characters and non-transgender actors playing transgender characters?
Jamie Clayton: Listen. I have said this before and I will say it again and my opinion is never going to change on this. As an actor, I want to be given the same opportunity to play any kind of character so I would never tell an actor to not play a role.
The issue is that as someone who identifies as trans, I am not given the same opportunities as someone who is not trans. I am not even allowed to audition for certain things or then if I do audition, “a discussion” needs to be had with producers and directors about what the audience is going to think and there is all this stuff that is put on to the character and me that does not need to be there.
I would never tell anyone to not play a role. I want to be given the same opportunities but the truth of the matter is that I am not. And most people who are actors who identify as trans are not. Do I audition for roles that are not trans? Yes. Do I hope to play one? Yes. But we are just not given the same opportunities.
And so, I think that is where the frustration lies with the community. We are just not given the same opportunities and if there happens to be one year where there are, I guess, eleven roles that are identified as trans in film and television and if a chunk of those go to actors that are not identified as trans and we are not even allowed to audition to play anything other than that, that is what is hard. But I want everybody to be able to play everything.
More of this Jamie Clayton Interview
As I said, there is much more but this is already so much to write down. So, please, check out the video and share it with everybody you know. If you would not mind, please subscribe to my YouTube channel? That really helps me in terms of visiting cons in 2019. That means bringing home those cons to queer people who cannot visit them themselves for whatever reason.
PS here are my interviews with Natasha, Elise & Annie, Kat Barrell, the team behind I Can’t Think Straight, Nicole Pacent, Mandahla Rose, the writer and producer of Different for Girls, and the directors of ClexaCon.