Transgender celebrities in Hollywood are breaking boundaries in film and television — two industries where there has been a lack of authentic and meaningful representation for many years. Luckily, there are more and more famous transgender actresses and actors who are not only great at what they do, but who are also advocates for better portrayals and roles for trans people on screen.
From Canadian icons like Elliot Page to Emmy winners like Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, these are just some of the talented trans celebs who are providing positive representation in film and TV right now.
Elliot Page has starred in a number of films and TV shows over the years, and has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two BAFTAs and a Critics’ Choice Award. He currently stars in The Umbrella Academy, which was recently confirmed for a fourth season on Netflix.
Aside from acting, Page is also working on a memoir, Pageboy, which will drop sometime in 2023.
The Euphoria actress has been making waves with her role on the HBO hit series. Although she’s bringing representation on the small screen with her portrayal of Jules’ experience as a trans woman, Schafer has also been fighting for trans rights since she was in high school — back in 2016 she penned an essay about discriminatory bathroom laws for Teen Vogue.
She is also a model when she’s not busy acting, and has walked the runway for major brands including Prada, Dior, Coach and more.
Laverne Cox made history as the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category for her role as Sophia in Orange Is the New Black. Aside from that series, she’s made appearances in other hit shows, from Dear White People to Inventing Anna, and has also starred in films including Promising Young Woman and Jolt.
She’s been a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has won numerous awards for her advocacy, including being named one of Time’s most influential people.
Related: 11 ways to be a respectful LGBTQ2S+ ally.
Indya Moore is best known for starring in the Emmy-winning series Pose, but they’ve also started to rack up a number of film roles, from their turn in Queen & Slim to the next Aquaman film. They’ve been outspoken about the bullying and transphobia they’ve faced from their parents and classmates, but that hasn’t stopped them from being an inspiration to many — so much so that they were one of 50 heroes deemed to be “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people” by Queerty in 2020.
Michaela Jaé Rodriguez
Like her co-star Indya Moore, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez also rose to fame via her role in Pose. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama earlier this year and made history with her win as the first trans actress to take home a Golden Globe. She reacted to the moment on Instagram, writing: “This is the door that is going to open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would with love. Love wins.”
Although Pose may have concluded, Rodriguez hasn’t slowed down, with a role in the Oscar-nominated film Tick, Tick… Boom! She’s also working on releasing new music and dropped her first single last year.
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Janet Mock might not be an actress, but she’s made waves off-screen in the film and TV industry as a director, writer and producer. She has directing credits on Pose, Hollywood and The Politician. She scored a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Drama Series for her work producing the first season of Pose, and last year she earned two nominations, one for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, also for Pose.
Aside from her work in film and TV, Mock has written several books and has also worked in journalism as an editor for both Marie Claire and People.
Actress Ivory Aquino is best known for starring in the miniseries When We Rise about the history of LGBTQ+ rights in the US. However, she made history earlier this year when it was announced she’d been cast in the (now cancelled) HBO Max feature film Batgirl as trans character Alysia Yeoh. With the role, it was the first time a live-action feature film adaptation of a DC Comics title had an openly trans character.
Zach Barack made Marvel history with his role in Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is no small feat considering it was his first major movie role. He told Variety that, “being in this movie is so beyond incredibly meaningful and I hope that it means something to other people.”
He currently stars in the show Dead End: Paranormal Park, which is out now.
Chilean actress and singer Daniela Vega received acclaim from critics for her role in the Oscar-winning film A Fantastic Woman. She became the first transgender person in history to present at the Academy Awards 2018, the same year that Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Vega has also done television work, on shows including Tales of the City, and she is set to star in the upcoming thriller series The Power.
Angelica Ross is best known for starring in Pose and American Horror Story, but she’s also starred in films such as Framing Agnes. Ross is an advocate for trans people in tech and founded her company TransTech Social Enterprises, which works to help trans people in the tech industry find work. She also founded the TransTech Summit, making her a true multi-hyphenate.