Candis Cayne may have made a name for herself as a New York City performance artist, but it was her job as prime-time televisions first transgender woman playing a transgender woman on Dirty Sexy Money that put her in the media spotlight. After a stint on Nip/Tuck and a successful weekly club show in L.A., Cayne is back with a gig on this weeks Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime.
Out: Howd you get this part on Drop Dead Diva?
Candis Cayne: [The show] called me and my agent and asked if I wanted to do this part that they were writing for me. And I was like, Of course! It was super exciting.
Whats your role?
I play a transgendered woman who, before her transition, was married to a woman. They married and theyd been in a relationship for a long, long time. She suddenly dies in a car accident, and her family comes after all of her assets. Even though theyre mine, legally, because gay marriage is illegal, they have a basis for taking everything. And so its about the fight to keep her and her dead wifes stuff.
How was it being on set?
I was in Peachtree City, Georgia, which is so crazy, like in the middle of Georgia, shooting this television show. It was so much fun. It was beautiful, the locals were really nice, and the cast was just great. Everybody was just wonderful. I had a few cheeky moments with Margaret Cho, which was so much fun. I love her.
Had you ever worked with her before?
I met her before a few times at different like events and red carpets. Id never worked with her. But it was really fun. Shes hilarious. Shes one of those people youre just obsessed talking to her -- youre laughing.
How was hosting the GLAAD Media Awards earlier this year?
It was a little flinching. I mean, its live theater, pretty much, which Im good at, its what I do. But instead of, like, a local crowd or 10 people in the audience, theres like the cast of Glee sitting two tables down. It was really scary, but so much fun. And it went off without a hitch, thank God. I usually get kind of nervous, but for some reason that night, I walked up and there were no nerves or anything. And I was singing live. And I was like, "This is not very good that Im nervous." But it actually went really well!
And youre still doing your weekly show in L.A. at the Abbey?
Yeah, I do a show at 10:00 every Monday at the Abbey. California is completely different from New York City, but its still fabulous. And I love doing my show. Even though I really love doing film and television stuff, my show is where I started at. I could never not do it. Its what I love.
Even if you become a huge movie star, youll still keep doing it?
Yeah, for sure! Maybe not weekly [laughs].
There were rumors of you moving back to New York.
Do you ever get tired of people constantly drawing attention to the fact that youre transgender, rather than letting your accomplishments stand alone?
When youre first doing something that hasnt been done before, you have to be that person. People want to ask questions. It would be lame and stupid of me to not want to talk about it because thats who I am, and Im really open about it. If you show a representation for the community, thats going to be a positive step for everyone in the right direction.
But does it get frustrating having to tell your story over and over?
Well, I always joke with my friends that when I get interview questions, its the same 10 questions. You know what I mean? But its like, at least theyre talking.
Do you think there will be a time when you will be offered major female roles rather than transgender female roles?
Id like to read for those kind of roles. Who knows? Who knew Id be on an ABC show? Im holding out.
As one of the most highly publicized transgender people out there, how does it feel to be that role model?
Its an honor. Its a total honor to represent the community that way. Thats all I can say about it. I have nothing negative to say about it.
Youre going to be at Vancouver Pride soon, right?
Yeah, Im actually at the airport right now! Im going to Vancouver in about an hour, and Im the grand marshal, which is amazing.
You use the word gorgeous, and an abbreviation gorge, a lot. Whats that about?
I know. Its just one of those words -- those catchphrases -- that I just for some reason have been saying. It just kind of developed. At first it was just "gorgeous," but now Ive had to shorten it because I say it so much. I dont know why! Its just like some people say like all the time. Like and like! Its just part of my vocabulary, I guess.
You recently ended a seven-year relationship with your boyfriend Marco, got rid of your manager, and changed agencies. Are you going through a renewal?
Yeah, its been a really weird few months. My manager did something that was just unforgivable, which I dont really want to get into. And so I had to let her go. And Marco and I, you know, we still love each other, and Ill always love him. He was not happy here, and I was. It was a huge divide in our relationship. My agency -- I have nothing bad to say about them. They just werent doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to focus on female roles and going out and auditioning every day. Thats what I want to do. And so I signed up for a boutique agency, KSR, which is really great. They actually call me a lot, and they want to work for me. Im enjoying it. Its been a really weird time, but a lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and Im the happiest Ive been in a long time.
Whats up next for you?
Part of change and renewal is starting from scratch. I had to let go of a lot of the projects I had been working on because of ties with the old people in my life. Now Im just going to focus on doing television and film and start working on another pilot. I hope it all works out.
Ive got to ask, what is the secret to that fabulous hair?
You know what, I have to say -- thank you -- and also, a lot of it is genetic, I have to admit. Oddly enough, I get my hair thickness from my father. He has like a huge pile of hair on his head. Hes almost 70, and its thick and gorgeous. I just shampoo with regular shampoo and condition with regular conditioner. Nothing much. And a good hot set -- a good curling iron is always good. It makes your hair big and fluffy. The bigger the better, I say!
Candis Cayne appears on Drop Dead Diva this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.Send a letter to the editor about this article.