Amazon’s original show Transparent is one of the leading voices in the transgender movement. Not only has it given a clear narrative on the experiences of trans people, but it puts a large focus on the family of a transgender person. The family dynamic and how it shifts when a trans person, in this case their patriarch, goes through changes to find their true identity, isn’t usually covered and if anything is marginalized.
The timing of this show as well as cultural trans figures like Caitlyn Jenner opening up feels kismet. Aside from niche productions like the documentary Paris Is Burning, we’ve only been given glimpses of portrayals of transgender people, and the lives they touch. And in most cases, it was always in a comedic light. Not until trans actress Laverne Cox boldly showed the inner and outer struggles of being a trans person by portraying a character on Orange Is The New Black, did these important stories spring up in the mainstream. Not only are people open to understanding the plight of many trans people, but their stories, as varied and heartbreaking as they are, are finally being shown in all mediums. Creator Jill Soloway’s Transparent is just one of those stories.
Actress Gaby Hoffmann, who portrays the daughter of a transgender woman Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) attended AOL’s studio for a chat about how relevant Transparent is and the platform it gives to trans people.
What can you say about Ali character arc for Season 2?
She’s in a really interesting moment in her life. I feel like when we came out in Season 1 she was coming out of a long period of depression sort of a technical term I like to use stuck-edness, with Maura’s coming out, like everyone in the family she was jostled awake. So when we see her in this season she’s on a path to self discovery, and she’s very curious about who she is and who she is in relation to the family and to her history, as a Jew, and as an intellectual. It’s a huge exploration of her identity that is done with many missteps, but a lot of thought and serious curiosity. It’s a wild ride.
How do you find room to improv scenes?
It’s pretty easy when you have writing like this. You just have to show up and listen and say these words that have been offered. Jill [Soloway] is at the helm and she has this unbelievable way of slapping you in the face and tickling you at the same time, and I just follow her lead. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants intuitive kind of actor so I wouldn’t know any other way, but in this scenario I can trust that that’s okay.
Sometimes a scene is written one way and we get to set and it doesn’t work, and we get to just keep trying. We know in the end the right version will be found because we have extraordinary editors. There’s incredible space to find it and all the time in the world thanks to Amazon. Time is worth everything.
When did you realize this show was lightning in a bottle?
I think the first time we were all in the same room. The first table read. It was bizarre. It felt like magic. It felt like we all knew each other immediately, and we were laughing and crying from the get-go. I didn’t really care beyond that. I thought, “I can’t believe I get to play with these people.”
This show resonates with so many right now. Do you think this show came out at the right time?
We’ve made a lot of progress, but I do want to say that the law hasn’t caught up completely, there’s still a lot to be done. So much light has been shed, and so many positive things have happened. I think there’s a paradigm shift happening. I the show is neither the cause or the product. I think as things do there’s a moment, and one turn leads to another and the whole thing opens up. This is long overdo but as America will do, it’s coming with a lot of force and a lot of happening quickly, which is great. This has been an issue that’s been bubbling up for a very long time.
What will you carry away with you from this experience?
This is truly a family and i’m so grateful I have all these people in my life, on a personal level. On a professional level, I feel like I just started acting a few years ago, because I sort of did as this iteration as myself and I’ve been able to learn so much about myself as an actress, because we get to do so many, and we have this incredible freedom, so that’s pretty invaluable.
Amazon’s second season of Transparent is available on December 11th.
[Photo by Amazon]