Saturday, January 09, 2021

Michael D. Cohen and Nickelodeon Are Looking for Trans and/or Non-Binary Kids Who Are Looking to Get Into Acting

Do you know any trans and/or non-binary kids that are looking to get into acting? Danger Force’s Michael D. Cohen and Nickelodeon are here to support you! Take Michael's Trans Youth Acting Challenge at www.transyouthacting.com, plus check out audition submission tips and guidelines! Submit your casting entry by Wednesday, December 23, 2020!

Michael D. Cohen's Trans Youth Acting Challenge!



Michael D. Cohen has issues an acting challenge for members of the transgender youth community and the prizes are amazing! Make sure to check out the website below to learn the rules of the contest.

https://www.transyouthacting.com

Trans Youth Initiatives with Indya Moore, Chase Strangio, Michael D. Cohen and Danielle Pretsfelder


Indya Moore, Chase Strangio, Danielle Pretsfelder and Michael D. Cohen talk about their initiatives to help trans youth.  Trans Santa and the Trans Youth Acting Challenge www.transyouthacting.com

Michael D Cohen on etalk on CTV discussing the #TransYouthActingChallenge


The Trans Youth Acting Challenge is an initiative in partnership with @nickelodeon to support #trans and #non-binary youth who want to pursue acting.

Real Michael's story here!: http://nickalive.blogspot.com/2019/05/henry-danger-actor-michael-d-cohen-has.html


From Advocate:

Nickelodeon Wants Its Next Kid Star to Be Trans or Nonbinary

Nickelodeon is committing to the visibility of transgender and nonbinary young people.

The youth-oriented network has partnered with Michael D. Cohen, the star of its shows Henry Danger and Danger Force, on a casting call for members of this community.

Cohen, who opened up about his "transgender journey" in 2019, launched the Michael D. Cohen Trans Youth Acting Challenge. The initiative asks trans and nonbinary youth living in the U.S. or Canada, with the help of parents, to submit audition tapes by December 23. Afterward, 12 finalists will be invited to a "Zoom acting master class" with Cohen and then have the chance to participate in an online webinar with Nickelodeon's casting team.

Cohen, who portrays Schwoz on Henry Danger and Danger Force, never saw himself represented as a young person. And he was inspired to launch the initiative after receiving an outpouring of love from LGBTQ+ youth who dreamed of becoming actors but feared their "trans-ness" would be an obstacle.

"It breaks my heart that these kids question their creativity or dreams because of their gender identity," Cohen said. "So I wanted to do something that would help trans kids who love acting get access to opportunities that they wouldn’t ordinarily have."

Cohen also recognized the importance of networks like Nickelodeon as a collaborator. "If communities who have been historically beaten down and disregarded are going to claim their equal place in our society, it needs to happen at least in part by people in positions of power opening up the gates and offering up a place to nurture," he said. "And that’s exactly what Nickelodeon is doing by being my partner in this project."

Below, Cohen further discusses his hopes for the Trans Youth Acting Challenge and what it means to partner with Nickelodeon in this historic endeavor. And he encourages trans and nonbinary youth and their parents to learn more about the initiative (and how to submit a self-tape) at www.transyouthacting.com.

The Advocate: What inspired you to launch the initiative?

Michael D. Cohen: I’ve always been passionate about helping trans youth. I’ve been a Trevor Project lifeline counselor, and I’ve volunteered with summer camps for trans youth. But I wanted to do something on a larger scale and thought it would be perfect to do so with Nickelodeon.

They have an amazing take on diversity and inclusion and they were totally behind me when I disclosed. Also, I think with everything that’s gone on this year regarding social justice and the political environment, we’re all thinking beyond social media. It’s one thing to offer support in a post, it’s another to take action.

Also, in the last few months, I’ve had a bunch of trans kids reach out to me saying that they want to be actors but that they’re scared that their “trans-ness” would be a problem. It breaks my heart that these kids question their creativity or dreams because of their gender identity. So I wanted to do something that would help trans kids who love acting get access to opportunities that they wouldn’t ordinarily have. 

How do you hope that the program will help the next generation of actors who are trans?

I hope it helps them on many levels. First of all, just knowing that a major mainstream network for kids — Nickelodeon — is interested in their talent, wellbeing, and worth is important. I’ve worked closely with the casting team for Nickelodeon and also for Danger Force. We are all on the same page. Everyone cares deeply about these kids and wants to support.

I want trans youth to know there are adults out there who care about their journey as artists and as human beings. Also, I’ve talked to casting about this — that it’s important that we have trans representation in the shows — meaning trans characters played by people of trans experience. But it’s also important that trans people are cast in nontrans roles. I want kids to know that their trans experience does not have to limit their possibilities. It doesn’t have to define everything they do, including the characters they play. My hope is that this initiative will increase the possibilities for these actors by expanding roles for them and also reinforcing their own belief in themselves. 

This program will also give these kids some practical skills. The process of putting together the audition tapes for the challenge will give these kids experience for the future. We’ve provided detailed directions and a video for them so that they can learn how to do it. The 12 kids who will end up taking the master class with me will get training that I hope will help them land jobs in the future. And ultimately I’d like to see a number of the kids coming through the challenge getting considered for roles on all sorts of Nickelodeon shows. So all in all, my goal is to provide these kids with some experience, training, and opportunities that will help form a foundation for them so that they can be successful in the future. 

What does it mean to have a network like Nickelodeon supporting you in lending visibility to trans young people? 

It is very hard to put into words the amazing level of passion and support I have received from Nickelodeon. I’ve had senior executives as well as gaffers and prop masters approach me and say, “I heard about what you’re doing. How can I help?”

When we were shooting the self-tape instructional video that’s on the website for this project, one of our Danger Force crew members was asked to help out. When he found out that this was for trans youth he got so excited — he went above and beyond to find set pieces, set up specific lighting, and even made an appearance in the video. That’s generosity. Everyone’s been so generous. They get it. And it’s important that the LGBTQ+ community — as well as other marginalized communities — see this because we need to collaborate, accept support, and stand together. If communities who have been historically beaten down and disregarded are going to claim their equal place in our society, it needs to happen at least in part by people in positions of power opening up the gates and offering up a place to nurture. And that’s exactly what Nickelodeon is doing by being my partner in this project.

If there had been a television network doing this when I was a kid, my childhood would have been vastly different. I wouldn’t have felt so alone. It’s validating for kids in a way that is truly lifesaving. The messaging to kids is “You exist, you matter, and we want you to be authentically you.” So it means the world. It means that in all this mess that’s happening in the world, there are great people and great companies doing great things. 

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From CNN:

ANALYSIS: Elliot Page, Laverne Cox and others show diversity in Hollywood is about more than race


(CNN) — Inclusion is evolving.

Nowhere is this truer than in Hollywood, where there has been increased demand for improved representation by gender, sexuality, religion and opportunities for the disabled in the industry.

The recent announcement by "Juno" star Elliot Page that they are transgender and identify as non-binary was greeted with surprise but also cheers by supporters and trans advocates alike. The term "non-binary" describes a person whose gender identity is neither male nor female; the use of they/them pronouns when referring to an individual is a way of respecting this personal identity.

Page's story had me reflecting on 2015, when I had written about the public debut of Caitlyn Jenner via the cover of Vanity Fair. It reminded me of the power of celebrity.

Attitudes about the LGBTQ community and same-sex marriage started to shift, thanks in part to television personalities like Ellen DeGeneres and the late "Real World" cast member and AIDS activist Pedro Zamora, and the sitcom series "Will & Grace."

Now, celebs like Page are helping to further educate people about the trans community.

Laverne Cox: The "Orange Is the New Black" star made history in 2015. Cox became the first openly transgender person to win a Daytime Emmy Award when she was honored as executive producer for "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word."

She also has multiple primetime Emmy nominations and has used her platform to speak out for LGBTQ rights.

Most recently, Cox went public with a transphobic attack she said she and a friend suffered in a Los Angeles park.

"This has happened to me before," Cox said during an Instagram Live video on her verified account. "I've been trans my whole life. I've been harassed and bullied my whole life. None of this is new, but it's still just kind of like, 'Who cares?' and then 'Why do you need to be aggressive?'"

Sadly, such violence toward members of the community is not uncommon. At least 37 transgender and gendernonconforming people were killed in 2020, according to a report released in November by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Michael D. Cohen: The Nickelodeon actor told Time magazine last year that while he doesn't use the term "transgender" to describe himself, he had transitioned from female to male.

"I was misgendered at birth," he said at the time. "I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience -- a transgender journey."

Cohen, who has costarred on the series "Henry Danger," said he chose to share his story to both help others and in protest of the rollback of rights for the trans community.

His then teen costar, Jace Norman, told Time the revelation "didn't change anything about the high level of respect and admiration I have for the guy," and added, "it's in the best interest of the entire world to have every type of person represented on TV."

Janet Mock: The former journalist is wielding a great deal of power behind the scenes these days.

Mock is a writer/producer/director for the critically acclaimed FX series "Pose" and in 2019 broadened her Hollywood resume with a three-year, multimillion dollar Netflix deal.

"There's potential to introduce hundreds of millions of viewers to trans people, and showing people who may not understand us, that we can tell our own stories," Mock said at the time.

Such representation would not have been conceivable just a short time ago. It's further evidence of the influence of Hollywood on our culture.

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Trans Youth Acting Challenge- Bringing awareness

BURBANK – When examining queer people in the media, it’s easy to see a lack of representation especially for trans and non-binary people. Although actor Michael D. Cohen does not necessarily call himself- “trans”, last year he came out in a story in Time Magazine about his personal journey – his gender transition. 

“I was misgendered at birth,” Cohen says. “I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience — a transgender journey. [..] I have worked so hard to get to the truth and I’ve taken on labels in the past that didn’t feel true for the sake of convenience at that moment,” he told the magazine.   

For many, they probably can not name many actors and actresses who have transitioned, so Cohen is making waves. Yet, even though this is fantastic for accurate representation, some ask who he is. Cohen’s a Canadian actor who has appeared in a litany of shows and movies with some of the most memorable roles being Schwoz Schwartz in Henry Danger and all of its spin offs such as Danger Force. He has also appeared in shows that aren’t strictly Nickelodeon such as Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place and ABC’s Modern Family.  

Although he’s making a name for himself, it does not mean that his journey was easy. Cohen talks about the process of coming out in an industry surrounded by children. It is not hard to understand that those parents who hold extreme values regarding the nature of gender identity are usually upset when confronting the fact that there is a person who transitioned on a children’s show.

Cohen has faced this backlash and he commented; “People don’t understand. They think this has to do with sexuality and it doesn’t. They think this has to do with pushing an agenda on kids and it doesn’t,” he says. “What it does is send a message to kids that whoever they are, however they identify, that’s celebrated and valued and okay.”

But, what about his current gig on Nickelodeon? Their response to one of their employees coming out should not be one that bashes a person’s identity. When Cohen was asked by the Blade how Nickelodeon responded, he replied, “They handled it the way they should’ve. They stood behind their values and backed me up.” Now, one of the television shows that Cohen appears as a cast member on Nickelodeon has more than 750,000 children watching each week.

He understands the issues that trans and non-binary youth face in today’s entertainment industry, which is why he launched the “Trans Youth Acting Challenge.” According to Cohen, “It’s a casting call for Nickelodeon to see trans and non-binary youth in consideration for roles for show.” His background of being an actor in a field which greatly underrepresents trans and non-binary people, especially youth- shows that he has a clear goal to trying to transform the industry writ large.

“The reason I did it is because I wanted to create more opportunities for trans and non-binary youth,” Cohen said adding, “It’s already changed the landscape just by having this initiative.”

Posted on the website is a video of Cohen calling upon trans and non-binary youth to submit video audition submissions to have an opportunity to be potentially cast in one of Nickelodeon’s shows. Cohen has made the process incredibly simple; Upload a video of yourself acting with lines provided. On the website, there is a list of different scenes that an actor is able to choose from. 

Is there accurate representation for trans and non-binary youth? According to Cohen, currently, no. “Representation in the media is a breach in familiarity.  The more that we are represented and represented accurately in the media, the more people who can gain awareness that’s based in truth, love, connection, and community.” 

This opportunity for trans and non-binary youth is based off of the experience of an actor who has successfully transitioned and is now paying it forward by reaching out to youth who aren’t afforded many opportunities to express their true selves in this industry.

“There’s nothing more important than providing support to young people. That’s what we’re here for. Regardless of anybody’s identity, that’s what adults are here to do,” Cohen says. “We have to support young people coming up and letting them shine – letting them be their authentic self.” In this regard, Cohen understands the necessity of reaching out to trans and non-binary youth in particular. 

Cohen ended his interview with the Blade with a note of positivity telling children to come out when they are ready because even though he felt comfortable coming out – not everyone has that comfortability. “We’re keeping the finalists confidential and anonymous… It’s up to them and their family to decide if they will be public about [coming out].” Approaching the auditions in this way will allow the youth to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Cohen tells people to be themselves; “We have to bring awareness to the areas in which we have these false beliefs about who we are,”… and maybe a way in which we can bring awareness would be through the Trans Youth Acting Challenge.

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‘Henry Danger’ star invites young transgender and nonbinary actors to audition for Nickelodeon roles

A Canadian actor who transitioned from female to male years before the word “transgender” was in common usage wants to open doors for young Canadian trans actors.

Michael D. Cohen, who plays Schwoz on the Nickelodeon sitcom “Henry Danger,” has begun the Trans Youth Acting Challenge. It allows transgender and nonbinary youth in Canada to submit self-audition tapes online to be considered for roles on Nickelodeon shows.

“It breaks my heart that these kids question their creativity or dreams because of their gender identity,” Cohen said. “So I wanted to do something that would help trans kids who love acting get access to opportunities that they wouldn’t ordinarily have.”

The applicants should be able to play roles up to age 18. The top 12 will be invited to take part in an online master class with Cohen, while all applicants can participate in a group webinar with Cohen and the Nickelodeon casting team.

See www.transyouthacting.com for information. Videos are being accepted until Dec. 23.

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From Forbes:

Lights, Cameras, Trans: Nickelodeon Star Launches Casting Call For Transgender Youth

“As a kid, I loved acting,” said actor Michael D. Cohen. “I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an actor.” He was on the phone from Hollywood, where Cohen has resumed filming the first season of a new show for Nickelodeon. He’s got another project in the works for the studio, one that fulfills a need that he had growing up: seeing someone like himself on television.

“If there were something like this when I was a kid? Oh, my God! My life would be different on so many levels. So, I went to some senior executives at Nickelodeon with this idea, and they were very receptive and said, ‘Yes. Let's do this.’”

“This” is the Trans Youth Acting Challenge: A casting call for transgender and non-binary youth, supported by a Zoom master class for the top dozen prospective actors, which Cohen will teach. And he’s offering something else, to every child who enters.

“Everybody will be able to join a webinar with myself and with Nickelodeon casting to ask any questions that they have on their minds,” Cohen said. Details on how to submit a casting entry video are clearly explained on the site. In addition, there’s an online tutorial. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, and Cohen said submissions from young people outside the U.S. and Canada will get looked at, too.

“This is giving them access, opportunities, giving them a stage for people to be aware of their importance and existence and value, and for people to see that trans youth are just kids,” he said with budding enthusiasm. “They’re kids! Like, we were all kids, you know? And these kids need the representation. They need the support.”

Michael D. Cohen Is “Schwoz”

For those who don’t know who Cohen is, ask a kid. Since 2014, he’s played Schwoz Schwartz, the genius mad scientist friend of Captain Man and a regular character on the cable channel’s hit series, Henry Danger. It was Nickelodeon’s number one live-action kids’ show on basic cable, with more than 750,000 children tuning-in to watch the sitcom each week.

His distinct accent for Schwoz is “a mix of a bunch of eastern European accents, plus some Spanish, Swedish and Israeli thrown in,” Cohen said. He’s continuing in the role on the new show, Danger Force, as well as directing an episode. He’s also appeared in hit films like Whiplash and Suburbicon, a variety of television shows and teaches acting at the Michael D. Cohen Studio.

But his focus off the set right now is to promote this unique opportunity for trans and gender non-conforming youth. This is a cause close to Cohen’s heart, not just because he provides lessons to those who want to learn the craft, but because he is a man of transgender experience himself. He does not use the terms “transgender” or “trans” to explain his identity, however; “I define myself as a man,” he said.

“As long as I can remember, I identified as male,” said Cohen. “There's a picture of me at 18 months where I've got my dad's pipe in my mouth. I just gravitated toward male things. I felt like I was a boy. I knew I was a boy.”

Cohen came out in Time last year, and was embraced by everyone in the cast, crew and even fans. No easy feat for someone on a children’s TV show. He told his story to the magazine, he said, because, “If I tell my truth, that gives other people permission to tell theirs too.”

“4 Cubits Make A Man”

Cohen has a one-man show about his journey. 4 Cubits Make a Man took 15 years of his life to write, detailing fights with his mother over feminine clothing and hairstyles; growing up in Winnipeg and Vancouver as a “rough and tumble” child, whose parents heard complaints from other moms and dads about Cohen being “too tough;” and retracing the path of a relationship that did not survive his transition 20 years ago, at the turn of the century, almost a decade before Chaz Bono. The solo show was set to hit the stage in Los Angeles in the Spring, but then came Covid-19. “So, it’s on hold,” he said.

Although Cohen can’t tell his story at this moment in time, this challenge he’s created in conjunction with Nickelodeon is to do something even bigger than the actor, and that’s not intended to be a pun about his height of just over 5-feet. Cohen said he is hoping to change minds about trans kids, and addressing deep-seated fears.

“The way to look at it is not to combat it,” he said, about the transphobia so many children in the community experience. “I look at it as not giving it energy.”

What fuels his passion for this project are the public misconceptions based on fear-mongering and propaganda about children who don’t identify with the gender they were presumed to be at birth. Social and religious conservatives have created a cottage industry to shun and invalidate trans children, to outlaw safe, effective and medically-sound treatments like puberty blockers, discriminate against them in school bathrooms, locker rooms and athletics, and argue that children can’t possibly know their gender identity before they are adults.

Cohen’s Counter Argument

Cohen said his project seeks to counter the hate from transphobes and opponents of LGBTQ equality by cultivating compassion.

“I think the only way to get through [those people’s fear] is through insight and compassion. Otherwise, it is a war, and I don't want to live in a war. I don't want to live in a war inside myself; I don't want to live in a war with other people,” said Cohen, adding that this doesn’t mean he’s not fighting for his beliefs. He is, but it starts with establishing and respecting boundaries.

“If we're going to transform the world,” said the actor, “then it needs to come from a place of self-compassion first, and then compassion for others.”

That compassion and opportunity, said Cohen, is not just for the young people who feel a passion for acting and their proud parents, but for those who refuse to accept them or dismiss their experience. His aim is to win over the non-believers.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for the public,” he explained, “to see that trans kids exist, that they're valued by the network, that they're appreciated, they're taken seriously, they're important. And I believe that showing that a network like this is behind them speaks volumes.”
Nickelodeon is going to create opportunities for trans youth to be cast in all sorts of roles, not just the trans ones, Cohen said.

“That's what I love about what Nickelodeon is doing,” he boasted. “We're on the same page, that these kids are being seen for any role. We just want funny, talented kids. We aren't defining them. We just want their talent. We want them to shine.”

Cohen is promoting the casting call through his Instagram as well as on a website set up by Nickelodeon’s parent company, ViacomCBS.

“It's one thing for me to post on social media, or for Nickelodeon to put Pride posts up,” said Cohen. “It's another thing to actually take action and get behind it. And that's really what we're being called upon to do nowadays, in this new era; Activism is not just about talking, it's about doing.”

In the 1990s, what Cohen was doing was working behind the scenes in production in Toronto. Despite his fear of taking the leap in front of the camera, he decided the time had come. “This is what I want to do. It's now or never,” he recalled saying to himself. “I’ve got to do this.” Still closeted, he feared something inside would “crumble” once he committed to acting, but he said everything was going well, at first. That is, until he finally confronted his truth. “I was like, ’Ohhh. I'm a guy,’” he remembered thinking. “’Riiight.’”

“This Is Not A Lifestyle”

Cohen moved to Los Angeles and never looked back, accepting that living authentically would mean a drastic sacrifice.

“I had to be willing to lose everything,” he said. “That's what I think is so difficult about this process that people really need to understand. Like, this is not a lifestyle. This is not a choice. This is about, ‘Do I live my truth? Or do I die?’ It comes to that. And it's that the lie becomes so burdensome and toxic that you cannot go on,” unless you transition, he said.

His own experience living as the man he is for two decades, and the acceptance he’s found in the 18 months since he decided to share his truth, is why the Trans Youth Acting Challenge is so meaningful to him, he said.

“I think that people of trans experience are so undervalued, not recognizing that what we have gone through to manifest our truth is so profound, so profound,” Cohen emphasized. “That needs to be told. That needs to be out there. People need to understand that.”

Children and parents can find out more about the Trans Youth Acting Challenge by clicking here. The deadline for entries is Dec, 23, 2020.

An earlier version may have implied the webinar was only open to certain children who entered their videos but it is open to everyone who submits.

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Michael D. Cohen Talks Casting Call for Trans Youth: "This Is Inclusion"

The Nickelodeon 'Henry Danger' star is giving trans and non-binary kids a shot at TV roles for acceptance on and off screen.

Despite more trans roles being written and getting visibility on film and TV screens, barriers to aspiring trans actors getting into the entertainment business remain.

So trans Nickelodeon star Michael D. Cohen has launched the Trans Youth Acting Challenge to allow trans and non-binary youth to break through and connect with TV producers and directors. The star of the Henry Danger action sitcom for kids in 2019 revealed his own transgender journey after he transitioned two decades earlier.

Fast forward to today and Cohen sees benefits in holding a casting call for trans youth with an eye to building positive representation for trans people both on and off screen. "By creating this opportunity for kids, who knows what it will bring to them. We're giving them support and we'll see what that does for them. I think it can only do positive things, because they're getting that support, they're getting respect, they're getting the messaging that they're important," Cohen tells THR.

As a child, Cohen always wanted to act, but saw no door into Hollywood via a casting call for someone like himself that was questioning their gender. "If I had known about this as a kid, it would have been life changing for me. This is inclusion, to include someone who would not be normally included," he insists.

The Trans Youth Acting Challenge, with a Jan. 11, 2021 application deadline, will give trans and non-binary youth the opportunity to submit audition self-tapes online. The top 12 submissions will be invited to participate in an online master class with Cohen. And all applicants will be eligible to participate in an online group webinar and Q&A with Cohen and the Nickelodeon casting team.

Here Cohen is especially proud of having Nickelodeon not only backing him as he launches the casting and master class initiative, but having its own casting execs participating. "It makes me feel good to know that I work for a network that stands by its values, and that those values are in line with my own," he says.

When Cohen first revealed his transgender journey 18 months ago, he recalls Nickelodeon being supportive. But that was a first step as Cohen and Nickelodeon with the Trans Youth Acting Challenge can now move beyond encouragement to concrete steps for inclusion.

"It's one thing to be positive in social media posts, it's another to take action. And they (Nickelodeon) were ready and willing to do that, they just needed someone to come forward and say let's do this thing," Cohen recounts. He adds the Trans Youth Acting Challenge also allows Cohen to move beyond being a role model for trans actors.

"It's another thing to say, okay, what does that mean, what can I do to actually impact the lives of kids, where they can access something in a way I couldn't as a kid," Cohen insists. Part of his call to action with the Trans Youth Acting Challenge is the planned masterclass to offer guidance and mentorship to trans kids with real potential to get on screen.

"Some kids may come with skills, some kids may not come with skills. But we're really looking for kids that have a passion for acting, that show potential, that can be themselves on camera and have a desire to move in that direction," Cohen says.

The casting call initiative with Nickelodeon is also building privacy to protect young trans kids who already have the coming-of-age burden of feeling that they are the other gender or don't identify with any gender. "Nobody who submits (a tape) and participates is obligated in any way to share that they did. Confidentiality is key. We are not going to be publishing who the 12 finalists are," Cohen explains.

And if a young person who is trans is cast in a role through the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, their participation will only be made public if they are to play a trans character and if they decide to make an announcement.

Of course, young people who are transgender may well have specific skills that can be applied to acting, where questions of identity and reality are forever in play as performers assume the lives of imagined characters. But it's not that simple, says Cohen, because successful acting is really about being more of who you are.

And a trans man or woman who has transitioned may be better at that elusive authenticity prized by all seasoned actors, rather than just pretending to be someone else. "I know what it feels like to feel radically inauthentic. And that helps my acting and understanding different points of view," Cohen insists.

Having lived as a privileged man after living the life of a woman before his transition, Cohen adds he knows what it's like to live as both genders in our culture. "When I look at a character, I can see the people, I can see that character's experience in a different way. I know how different people get treated differently in the world, and that opens my mind," he says.

The challenge, Cohen adds, is to carry off the illusion to the film or TV viewer that, as an actor, you are a different character, while inside you're drawing ever closer to your true self. "I approach it like, yes, I really, really want to know what it's like to be that other character, but my only way to do that is to dig deeper into myself," he insists.

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Originally published: Wednesday, December 02, 2020 at 0252 GMT.

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