Representation in TV and film is important so that as many audience members as possible are able to see themselves on screen in some capacity. There are a lot of stories to tell, and none are one size fits all, as Leyna Bloom has explained. The star of the upcoming drama Port Authority opened up about representing the transgender community in film.
Port Authority tells a love story between Paul (Fionn Whitehead), a young man recently kicked out of his home with nowhere to go, and Wye (Leyna Bloom), a transgender woman of color with striking confidence. While Leyna Bloom and her character Wye both identify as transgender, Bloom is careful to clarify that this role does not and should not represent an entire community. Here is what she told CinemaBlend:
I don't think I represent the entire trans community. I think I represent ideas about the trans community that I was living on, that I was raised doing. Every trans person has different identities that have different ways of living and have different perceptions of what they think the trans experience means. Just like different people of color look different, act different, and come from different walks of life. I think our uniqueness is there in how unique our stories are outside of our identities that are boxes. Then I think it's imperative to represent who you are. And also if you're going to represent a community, make sure you do it with tons and tons of respect.
Leyna Bloom is the first transgender woman of color to lead a feature film at the Cannes Film Festival. As she said, respect is of the utmost importance when it comes to representing any community. Even if one belongs to the group they are representing, it’s important to remember that the character they’re portraying and the story they’re telling is only a piece rather than the full picture. Keeping this in mind, Bloom shared the following on how to achieve authentic representation:
When you surround yourself with a crew that really wants to make sure we are as authentic as possible, then there's many different voices and many different people on set, making sure that it's done correctly. All these businesses and magazines and enterprises in entertainment don't like to be told what they're not doing and what they could be doing better because they think that they're the professionals. But every single day, there are people that are born to do certain things that come from those communities that can tell things differently. I think if you're open to that creativity then you're open to the world changing.
So well said. Casting members of marginalized communities in roles that are telling their stories is just as important as having these people in the writers’ room, contributing to costuming, directing, and truly being part of every aspect of the story.