In the past couple of years, the representation of transgender actors and actresses in film and television has increased significantly.
Take for example the hit FX series Pose, which cast the highest number of transgender actors as series regulars, and furthered LGBTQ representation on mainstream television. And more specifically, the show gave a voice to a very marginalized group, Black and brown transgender people.
While more progress is still needed, these 11 Black trans actors and actresses are paving the way toward greater inclusion and changing how we look at film and television.
1) Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox rose to fame for her role as prison hairdresser Sophia Burset on the Netflix drama Orange Is The New Black. Cox would later go on to make history as the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an acting Emmy, as well as the first one to appear on the covers of Time and Cosmopolitan magazine. She was also recently honored by Mattel as its first-ever transgender Barbie doll.
2) Amiyah Scott
Amiyah Scott made history as the first transgender woman to be cast on The Real Housewives Of Atlanta (though she decided to leave the show after one month of shooting). She’s also earned rave reviews as the character Cotton on the Lee Daniels FOX musical drama, Star. Scott is now slated to star in a new TV series titled When We Grow Up.
3) Mya Taylor
Best known for her role as Alexandra in the 2015 indie film Tangerine, Taylor made history when she become the first openly transgender actor to win an Independent Spirit Award. Taylor has a handful of acting roles in the works and she was recently signed to Fusion Entertainment.
4) Kitana “Kiki” Rodriguez
Rodriguez drew praise for her leading role as Sin-Dee-Rella in the 2015 film, Tangerine. Along with co-star Mya Taylor, Rodriguez became the center of the first Oscar campaigns for openly transgender actresses supported by a film producer. She would later go on to be nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her role in Tangerine.
5) Brian Michael Smith
Brian Michael Smith garnered attention from audiences for his role as Toine Wilkins, a transgender police officer on the Ava DuVernay-produced OWN drama Queen Sugar. Since the show’s end in 2019, Smith has been in several other high-profile roles such as Pierce Williams in Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q, and FOX’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. The latter made Smith the first out Black trans man in a series regular role on network TV.
6) Angelica Ross
Angelica Ross is best known for her starring role as Candy Abundance on the FX period drama Pose. Ross began her career on the web series Her Story. The web series, which tracked the lives of trans women in Los Angeles, earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama. She also starred in the ninth and tenth seasons of American Horror Story and co-starred/executive produced the web series, King Ester.
7) Indya Moore
Indya Moore (who identifies as transgender and non-binary) garnered acclaim for their performance as Angel on the groundbreaking FX drama Pose. In addition to acting, Moore is an avid activist for equality and they were named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019 by Time Magazine. Moore is slated to be in the next Aquaman movie, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
8) MJ Rodriguez
MJ Rodriguez earned acclaim for her starring role as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista on the FX show Pose. Rodriguez won best actress in a TV drama for her role on Pose, making her the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe. Rodriguez has amassed several other honors such as being named one of EBONY’s 2021 Power 100 awardees and one of TIME’s Women of the Year in 2022.
9) Dominique Jackson
Trinidadian-American actress Dominique Jackson is best known for her starring role as Elektra Abundance on Pose. A leader in her community, Jackson has frequently used her platform to highlight outreach in the LGBTQ community. In 2017, Jackson was awarded the Legacy of Pride Award in Harlem and received the first Bronx LGBT Leadership Award.
10) Alexandra Billings
Trans icon, Alexandra Billings, is the second openly transgender woman to have played a transgender character on television—paving the way for future transgender entertainers—when she took the role of Donna in the 2005 TV movie Romy and Michele: In the Beginning. Billings is best known for her role as Davina on Amazon’s Transparent. Billings is now slated to star in and executive produce the queer trans dramedy Queen Tut.
11) Janet Mock
The best-selling author, host, and activist is the writer, director, and executive producer for Pose. Mock is also the writer, director, and producer of the Netflix series Hollywood and Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. In 2019, Mock signed a historic contract with Netflix, making her the first openly transgender woman of color to sign a deal with a major studio. That same year, she received Harvard University’s Artist of the Year Award and was named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100”.