Trace Lysette hopes “Monica” will make a lasting difference for trans people in Hollywood
Follow Lysette made history Last summer she became the first transgender woman to direct a film in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Viewers were so smitten with Lysette’s performance in the film titled Monica and directed by an Italian filmmaker Andrea Pallaoro – that they allegedly greeted her with an eleven-and-a-half-minute greeting standing ovation as the credits rolled.
While Lysette is grateful for the recognition, she hopes “Monica” will have a bigger impact and serve as an impetus for much-needed change in how trans people are represented in Hollywood.
“It’s nice to see people celebrating milestones,” said the Kentucky-born actor. “I understand the importance of a headline, but a headline is just a headline. What I’m excited about is the abundance of trans performers, the opportunities in this industry and how it’s affecting all of our humanity.”
Watch the trailer for Monica below.
after all,”Monica— which opens Friday in Los Angeles and New York and rolls out nationwide next week — marks a major step forward for Lysette as a screen actress. She plays the title character, a transgender massage therapist who returns to her hometown to care for her dying to take care of mother Eugenia (Patricia Clarkson).
The two women have been estranged for 20 years since Eugenia dumped Monica after learning of her daughter’s transition plans. When Monica appears at Eugenia’s side, her mother, who suffers from dementia, does not recognize her and assumes that she is an employed caretaker.
Lysette, to whose credits “Transparent” And “hustlers“gives a chilling performance as Monica. Her character is a grieving woman struggling with abandonment trauma who harbors a glimmer of hope that love and family ties will override the transphobic feelings of the past.
“I just knew Monica so well and how much she would represent so many trans women that I know,” said Lysette, who first read the script for Monica in 2016. “I’ve been living like this longer than I’ve been on Anything Else — I was non-binary in the ’90s and started transitioning in the early 2000s — so I knew if I got a chance to play her, I could put her on.” bring to life in really layered and authentic ways.”
The actor also welcomed the opportunity to work with Clarkson, praising the three-time Emmy winner’s “very passionate, insightful and experienced” presence on set.
“It was really nice to watch her work and see her silence between takes and see how confident she was,” Lysette recalls. “We work similarly by not preparing too much. We work with the gut and the heart, leaving room for variables within a scene. I always felt like whatever I would bring, she would catch it.”
Speaking to the New York Times This week, Clarkson echoed that praise, noting that her co-star was “capable of a penetrating silence.”
Lysette is, of course, aware of the fact that “Monica” will be released as transgender rights remain in place a hotly debated topic Both in the US and abroad. Since the beginning of the year at least 13 states have enacted laws and policies aimed at prohibiting or severely restricting the gender-affirmative treatment of minors.
While Monica isn’t overly political, Lysette believes the film’s “thorny” exploration of a strained mother-daughter relationship could help “reach a broader audience that might be resistant to something like this if it were.” would come in a different package”.
“I was approached by a man who had been adopted and had recently reconnected with his birth mother and he said he was deeply moved by the film,” she said. “It reminded me that the issues of abandonment and reconnection aren’t unique to trans people.”
She further noted, “It’s a trans story, yes — but it’s not limited to that.”