Jamie Clayton has been a busy girl. A former makeup artist--and Out100 honoree--has hosted a reality show for VH1, is appearing in two episodes of Hung on HBO, is the face of the fall/winter campaign for Jeremy Scott, and cracks the whip as an executioner in a band/performance group called Roma. She is also one of the small but growing number of transgender actors breaking into the world of showbiz and turning the public's perception of the transgender community on its ear. "I really hope to be judged on my work and who I am now, not based on my past," she says. We've got a feeling she won't have any problem with that.
This is your first major acting project. What was it like on the set of Hung?
It is, I'm so excited. I was really nervous, but everybody was so nice and good to me, giving direction and helping me out. Once I got into the groove, it felt so natural and good.
Thomas Jane recently raised some eyebrows with comments about his character that were taken as antigay. We're assuming he's not actually homophobic, right?
He never said anything to me on set. He was so open and generous. We have a lot of intimate scenes together in these two episodes, and he was so good to me--nothing but a gentleman.
So, what do you have coming up?
I'm still taking classes at The Studio in New York and auditioning for a lot of parts. I want a really diverse career. So, just crossing my fingers that once these episodes come out, people will see them and be wowed.
Being a transgender actor, are you worried about being stuck in a niche?
I'm not worried at all. I'm supported by a really good team of people who believe in me and what I'm capable of. Once people see the Hung episodes, people will see what I can do. There are a ton of shows out there I would love to be a part of: Fringe, Good Wife, Prime Suspect. I also have this fantasy of voicing a cartoon!
You've already hosted a reality show, TRANSform Me, on VH1. Would you do something like that again?
Hosting that was fun--I got to utilize my skills as a makeup artist and get my feet wet in front of the camera. But now that I've done a scripted show, I just love it. I don't think I'll be going back.
Have you always wanted to be an actor?
No, that's not the case for me. For so long I was trying to hide and blend in. Then I did TRANSform Me and got the experience in front of the camera, and got all this positive feedback, so I thought I wanted to host. But Brad, my acting coach [at The Studio] said I really should start doing scene work; I was doing so well in my other classes, I should focus more. And now it just feels good and so right. It really took someone like Brad to tell me I was good at this, and believe in me.
But you've also done some modeling, and are currently in the fall/winter Jeremy Scott campaign...
Yes, working as makeup artist for so long, I got to meet a lot of people. Modeling jobs kind of come up randomly--I've been photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Terry Tsiolis, so when the campaign for Jeremy came, I jumped at it. I love him and his sense of humor toward fashion.
So you are doing some very public projects. Do you think attitudes toward transgender people are changing?
I think the world at large is becoming more accepting and more educated the more exposure there is. There are still steps to be taken for community to be fully accepted, but we are moving in the right direction. Projects like Hung are great. The writers really took time and care to portray my character, Kyla, as a girl and a human being just like everyone else. It's a very realistic portrayal.
Clayton's second episode of Hungwill premiere this Sunday at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.