Jay and Mark Duplass have become an unlikely duo that has not only taken over Hollywood, but have also had a hand in some of LGBT’s biggest on-screen moments over the past year.
With their production company, the brothers have produced the buzzworthy films, The Overnight, The Skeleton Twins, and Tangerine. For the latter, they launched an Oscar campaign focused on the film’s two transgender stars, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.
The festival breakout tells the story of Sin-Dee (Rodriguez), a transgender sex worker who, just out after getting out of jail, learns that her pimp-turned-boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) hasn’t been faithful. She turns to her street sister Alexandra (Taylor) for help with a Christmastime revenge.
Additionally, Jay plays Josh Pfefferman, the son of Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), who comes out as a transgender woman on Transparent. The Emmy-winning series, which returns to Amazon on Dec. 2, has helped the Duplass brothers realize the importance of fighting for Tangerine.
"Jay and I are new to the Academy, so we’re just figuring this whole thing out,” Mark told Variety. “One thing that has become apparent to us as we look at this stuff, it seems that the TV Academy has embraced what’s happening in the trans movement with Transparent and Orange Is the New Black. We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front.”
While the only other trans narrative likely to get nominated is The Danish Girl, it stars Eddie Redmanye, a cisgender actor as the real-life Lili Elbe. For the Duplass brothers, Tangerine is in its own class. While Jay is very clear it’s not about educating the Academy, he does want to make them aware of “how specific and special and unique the situation is.”
“There is no other movie anything like it out there,” Jay adds. “There are hardly any trans characters in film today, and especially, there are hardly any at all-trans actors playing trans characters.”
“We felt very bullish and confident that these girls did such an amazing job in the film and hit a new level in terms of honest portrayal,” Jay says of pushing the film into theaters and making sure its seen. “We wanted to take that chance and try and get it out there, and it’s done really, really well.”
No matter how far the campaign goes, or if it sees history made at the Academy Awards, Jay is proud of what Tangerine — and his work on Transparent — has done. “I live in a very gender-fluid world, so much so that I don’t even notice it any more, so when I notice the world being unfriendly in any way I definitely tend to do whatever it takes to help however I can.”