• Winner for Best Original Screenplay Dustin Lance Black for "Milk" gives his acceptance speech at the 81st Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in on Feb 22, 2009 ((Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images))Source: (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
"It was not hard to find amazing trans actors and actresses to play these parts."
Michaela Morgan

6 Feb 2017 - 12:53 PM  UPDATED 2 Mar 2017 - 2:30 PM

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has criticised Hollywood for continuing to cast cisgender actors in transgender roles.

Black is the creator and producer of When We Rise, an eight-hour miniseries that tracks the history of the LGBT+ rights movement.

He says there was no shortage of options when casting transgender roles, with a number of audition tapes being sent in by trans actors.

“So, I call bullshit on Hollywood if they say it’s difficult. And if they think it’s difficult, then they should call our casting directors because they found unbelievable trans actors and actresses, and it was actually tough to decide who to cast.

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“They still have to be a great actor, so if I can’t find anyone in the world who share some experience that they’re about to portray in this character, who’s also a good actor, then I’ll happily go for someone else, ” says Black.

Watch the trailer:

Black wrote the screenplay for Milk and says that it used to be difficult to find openly gay actors to play gay roles.

“When we were doing Milk, that’s what we wanted to do, and the studio gave us full permission to do that. So, we called agents and manager friends and they all said they didn’t have any gay actors or actresses, which is funny since I knew some of their clients were gay!”

Black says the process was frustrating but that social media is helping to effect change in Hollywood.

“Particularly in this young generation of actors and actresses who, in one way or another, have come out on social media when they were kids and there’s no putting them back in the closet in today’s social media age.”

The cast of When We Rise includes Ivory Aquino who will play transgender civil rights leader, Cecilia Chung.

Aquino recently came out as transgender in a magazine interview

Episode one of When We Rise is streaming now, on SBS On Demand:

When We Rise is a part of SBS’s 2017 Mardi Gras season and is streaming now on SBS On Demand. The series will then make its TV premiere on Saturday 11 March at 8.30pm on SBS. 

SBS will be streaming the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade live on Saturday, March 4 on SBS On Demand, and will then air our Mardi Gras special event - with commentary from our hosts, behind-the-scenes action and exclusive interviews - on Sunday March 5. In the meantime, you can keep up with all our Mardi Gras content here.