Meet the first black trans man in a regular TV role
Brian Michael Smith made TV history yesterday as the first black trans man to be cast in a regular TV role.
The actor will feature in Fox’s 9-1-1 spin-off, Lone Star, which will debut in January.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smith will play a “transgender male firefighter with a gift for observation worthy of Sherlock Holmes”.
He’ll star alongside Rob Lowe who plays the former a New York City first responder transferred to Texas and works with Liv Taylor’s chief paramedic at the station.
He joins Natacha Karam and Rafael Silva, who are playing Muslim and Latinx firefighters, respectively in the show.
Smith will join the ranks of Angelica Ross, who became the first black trans woman to become a series regular on two shows (on Pose and America Horror Story) in what will be a huge leap in representation.
This isn’t the 36-year-old’s first role, however. He was cast in small roles in Girls and Homeland before landing a stint in OWN’s Queen Sugar, where he payed a trans police officer.
Brian Michael Smith: “I hope this frees many of my black and trans siblings from the bondage of fear that comes from trying to exist”.
“I’m having all the feels right now”, Smith said with glee when the casting broke on an Instagram post, “but the most pressing one is gratitude!
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I’m having all the feels right now- but the most pressing one is gratitude! I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. For an opportunity that for a long time I couldn’t imagine being possible. To as a black transman play a badass transmasculine character onscreen and to be the representation for others that I wished I had growing up. I can let go of so many doubts that had threatened to overpower my dreams and I hope this frees many of my black and trans siblings from the bondage of fear that comes from trying to exist in a world that works so hard to tells us we don’t matter and that we don’t have the right to be here. As the @theebillyporter shared the last night from the #Emmy stage while quoting James Baldwin: “I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day…’It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this Earth like I had a right to be here.’ I have the right, you have the right. We all have the right.” I am honored I am thrilled and I am so thankful! Looking forward to this next adventure with my @911lonestar crew. Shout out to my wife, To my mom @mzinittowin and my family, my team: @mgrwithatweet @erabon @natashamatallanamarken, my incredible friends and classmates and my teachers @terryknickerbockerstudio And @anthonyabeson And door openers: #timminear @mrmurphy @ericsouliere @ava @oprah @anthonysparks @cheryldunye @lavernecox @chazbono @tiqmilan @marjalewisryan @sho_thelword @queensugar #nickadams @anderfinn Tune into @911 for the season 3 premiere and look for us @911lonestar in January. #911 #911onfox #911lonestar actorslife #deadline #breaking #mondaymotivation #transisbeautiful #representationmatters
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity. For an opportunity that for a long time I couldn’t imagine being possible.
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“As a black transman play a badass transmasculine character onscreen and to be the representation for others that I wished I had growing up.
“I can let go of so many doubts that had threatened to overpower my dreams and I hope this frees many of my black and trans siblings from the bondage of fear that comes from trying to exist in a world that works so hard to tells us we don’t matter and that we don’t have the right to be here.”
Smith has frequently campaigned for increased representation of trans folk on the silver screen, and has mentored LGBT+ young people through an array of college and art centre programs.
“I worked with young people and I just saw how important it was for young LGBT people, no matter where they were in their experience, to see what is down the road for them,” he told NBC News, shortly after coming out as trans.
GLAAD welcomed the news, and called Smith’s casting “a truly groundbreaking step forward for transgender visibility and representation.”
Alex Schmider, Associate Director of Transgender Representation at GLAAD said: “Trans men, especially Black trans men, have been largely underrepresented on television, making this casting and character significant not only to the entertainment landscape.”
Moreover, Smith’s casting comes as GLAAD reported that, in 2018, there were just five trans male recurring characters on TV.