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Model and trans heartthrob Laith Ashley has landed his next big role, and it's one that few trans actors get to try.
In a new interview with Attitude, Laith discussed his role in the upcoming feature film My Divorce Party, where he'll be playing a cisgender stripper, a type of role that is still rarely given to trans actors.
"I'll be playing a cisgender character, which isn't a common occurrence in film and TV for a trans person," Ashley told the magazine. "We are just now getting the opportunities to appear in the media in a positive light as a whole, and having the chance to just be a performer telling a story is huge."
The movie follows Xan, a woman about to get divorced who brings her friends to Joshua Tree for an epic goodbye party to her marriage. "Chaos ensues when she reveals she brought her divorce settlement money to the party with the intention of blowing or burning it all by the weekend's end."
"I play a friendly little stripper Ajax, who they go and see," Ashley said. "I'm excited to show what I can do."
The former RuPaul's Drag Race Pit Crew member and Pose star said that he still has some work to do to prepare for the role. "I actually need to start working out more consistently and build up my body," he said. "To someone who's not really looking, you probably think I look the same, but not at all. I'm a lot smaller than I was when I was working out six days a week...To prepare for the role, I'd ideally like to be in the gym five days a week."
He wants to encourage other trans creatives to reach for their dreams, and to make the content they dream of seeing. "I can't put it on other people to write these stories," he said. "I always say, if you're a trans person and a writer, actor, or creative, make your own."
By playing a cis character in a film, Ashley is following in the footsteps of trans actors like Rebecca Root and Jake Graf, who played real-life cis people in the historical film Colette, and Patti Harrison, who last year starred as a pregnancy surrogate in the film Together Together.
My Divorce Party is set to start filming this fall, with no release date announced right now.
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