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After the Monica campaign, Trace Lysette doesn't view awards season the same

After the Monica campaign, Trace Lysette doesn't view awards season the same

Trace Lysette
Photo by Kayla Oaddams/WireImage

The actress spoke to Out at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards about how promoting the acclaimed drama changed the way she views awards season campaigns.

When it came to her performance in Monica and the awards campaign that followed it, Trace Lysette did the damn thing!

The Monica star experienced a rollercoaster ride while promoting the project and trying to compete with projects from the big studios. After getting an 11-and-a-half minute standing ovation when the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Monica wasn’t immediately picked up for distribution by major studios. This prompted its leading star, Lysette, to ask for help so she could afford a publicist for the awards campaign.

When asked by Out digital director Raffy Ermac on the red carpet of the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards about the long and arduous journey that led her to this moment in time, the actress responded:

“I have mixed feelings about the awards campaigning and the journey of it all. Lots of things that I learned this year. I wish it was less about the money and the fame and all of that sh*t that does not coincide well with art. But again, art is subjective. (…) The real win is making something special that will live on regardless of whatever accolades.”

Lysette continued, “I don’t look at awards the same way. I mean, I never thought they were the end-all, be-all. I heard Glenn Close say something years ago about how it was just an honor to be nominated. But I look at awards differently. They don’t mean the same thing to me now… now that I’ve seen behind the curtain of The Wizard of Oz.”

Though she is now operating with more caution for awards, Lysette is still hopeful that a trans performer will one day win an Oscar. “We’re gonna keep trying,” she said.

When asked to choose the one media question that she wishes was never asked again, Lysette said: “I’m just kind of over the cis actors playing trans roles thing. I feel like we’ve kind of… we’ve said what needed to be said about that.”

In the interview, Lysette also praised Film Independent and the Spirit Awards for giving a spotlight to lower-budget films and LGBTQ-inclusive projects. “I’m so grateful to Film Independent for keeping indie films alive and performance-based awards alive. So yeah, I threw on my gold Dsquared2 and I’m ready to have a drink and just celebrate this journey of Monica… and put her to bed.”

Some of the best LGBTQ+ films in the past 50 years have been independent productions, making awards shows like the Spirit Awards an important vehicle to highlight the lives and stories of our community. “There are just so many marginalized voices that need to have their stories told,” Lysette added. “If we don’t champion indie film, we will lose that.”

Monica is now streaming on Hulu.

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