silver screen legend

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There Are So Many Transgender Stories to Tell — and I'm Hell-Bent on Telling Them
Michelle Hendley is an actress living and working in NYC
By Michelle Hendley

SOAPBOX SATURDAY CONNTINUES:

Before I moved to NYC, a good friend of mine lent me one final word of advice: “If there is anything — anything at all — you can do in this world besides acting, do that instead.” Film and television are industries notorious for churning out iconic silver-screen legends and spitting out the rest who couldn’t make the cut. Actors routinely face rejection and criticism in the audition room and are constantly compared to their contemporaries, from their skills to their looks. The stakes feel even higher when you find yourself grouped into a niche typecast. That is to say, you are easily lumped with other actors who fit a particular descriptor — blond, tattooed, old, or in my case, transgender. As a transgender actress, opportunity comes on a double-edged sword. If a film or show is seeking transgender talent, you have a considerably better chance of getting the audition than the majority of cis actors out there. However, the roles available to transgender artists, while certainly growing and improving, are often limited to archaic stereotypes and unsavory characters. It was not until my fourth or fifth audition as a downtrodden, junkie, crossdressing prostitute that I fully understood the gravity of my friend’s earlier advice. Typecasting, frustrating and limiting as it can be, has also allowed me to meet just about every other trans actress working on the East Coast, because we all end up at the same casting calls. There is comfort in being able to confide in other women who not just relate but empathize and experience the exact same struggles. It is a tight and fiercely supportive community to be a part of, because each of us knows that our only chance to make change in this competitive and cut-throat world is if we speak as a unified whole. Progress is an often slow and uphill battle, but just in the past year alone we have seen amazing trans-positive and trans-collaborated works like Her Story and Transparent rise to recognition. It is deeply affirming to see girls like myself making headway, but there is still so much work to be done. It was about this time last year I felt particularly defeated about my career and seriously considered abandoning acting, the city, and the dream I followed so far from Missouri. I questioned my strength to face another stereotype or demoralizing role and doubted my ability to bring face and change for my community. I was beside myself, but then, all golden bright and shiny, there was the 2016 Emmys. When Jeffrey Tambor was awarded for best actor in a comedy series for Transparent, he took his place on stage to say…

Hendley (who did some DRAG while in college), got famous in the trans media for being handpicked to star in an indie movie by Eric Schaeffer, Boy Meets Girl (not to be confused with the two British TV shows) based off watching her YouTube videos. Her “biggest” roles to date since then have been costarring in the short Soless and as Daisy in Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (I think that role was cis).

William Fraker :: Vintage 1930′s Golden Age of Hollywood photograph of silver screen legend Jean Harlow. The original platinum blonde bombshell is a stunningly gorgeous vixen in this portrait that is everything we love about classic Hollywood style, photography, and charm. An absolutely smouldering view with a fine art deco sensuality and decadent glamour.

original source: The estate of legendary pulp cover artist Norman Saunders./ via: Grapefruit Moon Gallery on eBay

Ruth was sort of right, I would learn: A relationship with a higher power is often best practiced alone. For me it was practiced in hour-and-a-half or two-hour increments, and paused when necessary. I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that my religion of choice became VHS rentals, and that it’s messages came in Technicolor and musical montages and fades and jump cuts and silver screen legends and B-movie nobodies and villains to root for and good guys to hate. But Ruth was wrong, too. There was more than just one other world beyond ours; there were hundreds of them, and at 99 cents apiece I could rent them all.
—  The miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth

Taken by Professional Photographer George Barris

2

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

Emi is a film lover and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Thoughts

I adore this novel. The very first thing that made me fall in love is the way films play such a huge part in Emi’s life. At just 18, she is working behind the camera as a set designer, which gives you a very different perspective on the world of filmmaking. I used to think that the actors were the real core of any film, but now I see just how much work goes into making one, even one as small as the one Emi is working on. It has made me look at films in a whole new way.

I think you can really tell when someone is passionate about something, and it is evident that Emi, and the author, really has a passion for films and everything about them. Nina LaCour really knows what she is talking about, form the descriptions of all the people working behind the camera, to all the little references to cult films that pop up throughout the book. Either she loves films just as much as Emi does, or she has done some serious research. Anyhow, as clearly as you can tell that Emi is passionate about films, you can see that the author is passionate about this book.

As you may have guessed from the synopsis, the main character is gay. Frick yeah, DIVERSITY! What I love most about Emi is that her being gay is not some big revelation. It’s not about her questioning her sexuality because she just kissed a girl. She knows exactly who she is and she is so confident about it. The book starts out with her trying to deal with a recent break up, and progresses into her falling for someone new. Seeing her become stronger and then taking the chance to fall in love again is just beautiful, and will give anybody warm fuzzies.

This is so much more than just a love story. It’s about family, identity, and breaking up. It’s about adventure, taking risks, and finding your place in the world. It flows beautifully and has so many amazing characters. I urge you to pick this up the next time you feel like reading something sweet and uplifting.

//Love from L

Find it on Goodreads

More reviews here

9

A 1960’s Marilyn Monroe

  Marilyn Monroe at the Golden Globe awards March 5th 1962. Award for ‘World Film’ Favourite Actress’

Betty Grable, whose legs were insured by Lloyds of London for a million dollars in 1943