Vancouver transgender actress makes history on General Hospital with casting


After more than 14,000 episodes, long-running soap opera General Hospital is still breaking new ground with the recent debut of the show’s first transgender character to be played by a transgender cast member.

But with the progress that’s being made in daytime television, Vancouver-raised actress Cassandra James says it’s time for the rest of Hollywood to catch up.

“Film and TV reflects culture, it reflects the world that we live in. And if it’s not doing so accurately in terms of representation, then we have a problem,” James, 25, said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

“I’m happy to be changing that.”

Not a regular soap-opera viewer before joining General Hospital, James said she braced herself for a “brave new world” of soft lights and high drama.

Much of the serial’s cast, crew and devoted fan base have stuck with the show through decades of dizzying plot twists — from assassination attempts to alien encounters — over its 55-year tenure on the air.

While some of the storylines may seem larger than life, James said there are elements of her General Hospital role that ring true to her experience as a member of the transgender community.

James said she feels fortunate to have been supported by loved ones during her transition, unlike her character Dr. Terry Randolph, who struggles with acceptance by her family on the show.

In one scene, Randolph tells a childhood friend that transitioning isn’t a decision she made on a whim, but rather, was a way for her to reconcile “the difference between the physical and the emotional.”

One of the show’s male leads trips over his words as he tries to support Randolph, assuring her that it’s “awesome” she can finally be her true self.

James said she thinks this could be a “teaching moment” for many in the soap opera’s broad audience, some of whom may have not encountered a transgender person outside the small screen.

More poignantly, she said she receives messages from fans thrilled that they’re finally able to see themselves reflected on their favourite TV program.

But these kinds of benefits are harder to realize when so many transgender roles are taken by cisgender actors such as Scarlett Johansson, said James.

“I believe that my cis coworkers in the industry need to be doing better,” she said. “It’s just the culture that we live in. The pendulum swings, and really, visibility could not be more important than it is right now.”

Johansson has been …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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