HER STORY

Diva (UK) - - Culture | Jen Richards -

Jen Richards is the co-writer and star of Emmy-nom­i­nated web se­ries Her Story, about the lives and loves of two trans women in Los An­ge­les. She’s also a pas­sion­ate ac­tivist with a kind heart and in­fec­tious laugh who’s not afraid to speak her mind. She took time out of her birth­day to talk to DIVA about putting trans vis­i­bil­ity at the heart of Hol­ly­wood.

DIVA: Your back­ground is in ac­tivism and non-prof­its. How did you get into act­ing?

JEN RICHARDS: I’ve acted ever since I was a kid. I did theatre in high school, con­tin­ued into col­lege, and then as an adult I did com­mu­nity theatre. It was just some­thing I loved to do, but I never had any pro­fes­sional as­pi­ra­tions. And then when I tran­si­tioned, I gave it up.

Why?

I just as­sumed that with this change, I would never act again. There aren’t many roles for trans peo­ple – cer­tainly not enough to stay ac­tive in the theatre – and I couldn’t con­ceive of a time where I would feel com­fort­able just go­ing out for a reg­u­lar fe­male role. That’s what I be­lieved at the time. I feel dif­fer­ently now.

What changed your mind?

An op­por­tu­nity came up to write a web se­ries for a pro­duc­tion com­pany, which even­tu­ally be­came Her Story. When we started, it was just this lit­tle pas­sion project that a few friends were do­ing, so we were go­ing to act in it, too. I never an­tic­i­pated that it would end up hav­ing such a gi­gan­tic au­di­ence and that there would be all this pres­sure on my per­for­mance! It ended up be­ing very ter­ri­fy­ing. I ac­tu­ally tried to pull out of it, last minute. The rest of team said “nope, that’s not an op­tion”.

Thank good­ness they did!

Her Story rein­vig­o­rated and reawak­ened my love for act­ing and re­minded me that I do have some skill there. And it just hap­pened to come out right at the time when this con­ver­sa­tion be­gan in Hol­ly­wood around trans rep­re­sen­ta­tion. I had the right marginalised iden­tity at the right time and in the right place!

You re­ally didn’t an­tic­i­pate the suc­cess the se­ries would have?

No, no, no... [laughs]. It’s ab­surd. It was so out­landish it didn’t even en­ter into that realm where we could dis­miss it as out­landish! We cer­tainly thought it was

CAR­RIE LYELL CAUGHT UP WITH WRITER, AC­TRESS AND AC­TIVIST JEN RICHARDS TO FIND OUT WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A TRANS WOMAN IN HOL­LY­WOOD RIGHT NOW

“It just doesn’t oc­cur to cast­ing di­rec­tors to con­sider a trans per­son for a non-trans role”

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