In the wake of Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and the Happy Hippie Foundation, we are in the midst of a community who is tired of being silenced by the ignorance of a culture blindly hating something that is misunderstood on a daily basis. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), more specifically the transgender, community has a new hero in openly trans actor Scott Turner Schofield, who has landed a historic role on daytime network television as the first transgender male on CBS’ The Bold And The Beautiful with the recurring role of Nick.
Outside of making television show history, Schofield is an acclaimed speaker with his one man show “Becoming A Man” (Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps) and his TED Talk: Ending Gender by Scott Turner Schofield. I had the honor to speak with the actor-activist in an exclusive interview and we chatted about misconceptions of the transgender community, the web series he has with his beautiful fiancée Jessica, and his role on The Bold and The Beautiful.
“You know I’m one of those people who have always been a performer. I would always block the television and act out my own things much to my parents dismay,” Schofield said about where his love for performing started, but it wasn’t an easy road to get that break he wanted.
Studying theater at Emory University, these were the times when traditional Shakespeare was taught and there were no traditional roles for Schofield who faced diversity because of his gender. That’s when a mentor told him “sometimes in life you have to write your own rules” and that’s what he did. Landing the role of Nick on TBTB was a serendipitous happening that GLAAD played a part in orchestrating. “Well there’s a list, GLAAD, GLAAD is an organization that looks after LGBT people, and they knew my work as a professional theater actor.”
Being on that small list of transgender people got the actor an audition and he earned the part of Nick, a character who Schofield relates to in that “he’s really good at breaking down the difficult concepts of transgender realities into really easily understood soundbites.”
Speaking with Schofield brought an interesting conversation about the misconceptions his community faces. “The first thing I’m seeing on the comments [on social media] is people really frustrated saying like, “[groans] why do we have to talk about this, why do you have to throw it in our faces, why is this even an issue,” he started. “To them I want to say this is an issue because we have been made silent for so long.”
“You know it’s that thing in Physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It is 2015 and I am the first transgender man, first transgender person on daytime television. Daytime television has been going on for a long time. Transgender people were not invited into daytime television before now, well before 2007 we had another transgender character on another show, but regardless, we have been silenced for so long, that is why there is so much noise about it.”
And much noise there is. Schofield went on to talk about the difference between coming out as a gay person and coming out as a trans person. “When you’re gay, and I know this because I was a lesbian first, because I didn’t have the word, let’s talk about how silenced we’ve been I didn’t even have the word to describe myself for the first four years of being out.”
“So you’re gay, you pick up pretty quickly that the world thinks there’s something wrong with you, so you hide the fact that you’re gay. You stay in the closet. We talk about this all the time, but we don’t talk about the fact that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, you stay in the closet and you have your coming out moment when you open the door, come out from the darkness, come out from hiding, and announce yourself to the world. You tell the truth about who you are. Transgender people, we know who we are. We know who we are, most of us, from a very early age and we spend our lives fighting to show our true faces everyday. But If you meet me and you don’t know I’m trans, and I didn’t tell you I was trans, there is no lie, there is no closet. I’m just living my truth.”
The Bold and The Beautiful in a way has become a platform for Schofield and the trans community to live that truth by the amount of viewers who watch the show everyday. “There was a statistic floating around that Americans, only 9% of them said that they knew a transgender person. So less than 10% of the culture knows somebody who is transgender, how do we expect them to understand our issues, be sensitive, be kind. It’s always the people who people know the least about that everybody is the most awful to.”
“So with Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Caitlyn Jenner, and importantly this story line, because this story line reaches 30 million people globally, and soap fans, they love their soaps, so I know this story is reaching 30 million people everyday. Talk about bringing awareness and the way The Bold and The Beautiful is doing it is also really important because before 2014 something like 80% of transgender roles were the dead hooker and now we have all of us doing what we’re doing. These are transgender roles that are nuanced, that are really showing people what our lives are. We’re parents, we are friends, we are models, we are prison inmates, you know what I mean, we’re all types of people.”
Not only can you watch Scott on TBTB but you can watch him in a web series with his fiancée, and our boy Ian Verdun, all about your non traditional relationships. “My fiancée and I started writing a web series called Ze Said She Said, Ze is a gender neutral pronoun. My fiancée’s name is Jessica Lynn Johnson and she is a traditional Christian, straight girl from the Midwest and I’m this guy who like lived all over the world, queer, celebrity activist, transgender whatever,” he said about the show.
“We’re about as opposite as can possibly be and yet we’re engaged, we fell in love with each other, and we make it work. So, we wanted to create a series where, it’s a comedy web series, where the episodes are about 6 to 10 minutes long. We put up the first episode, people loved it, so we’re just finishing up the second episode right now, and it’s about building bridges to say a guy like me and a girl like her can actually fall madly in love with each other and work out all of our differences and opinions, all of our ways of being the way we are, that most people would think wouldn’t work. And if we can do that, what does that mean for everyone else.”
Be sure to follow Scott Turner Schofield on Twitter @turnerschofield, on Instagram @scottyschofield, and on Facebook at Scott Turner Schofield. Catch Schofield on The Bold and The Beautiful airing weekdays on CBS.
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Photo: Olivia Hemaratanatorn