Although 34-year-old Brian Michael has been acting professionally for five years, he admits his career hasn't been "visibly trans." Only now has he began openly exploring his FTM trans experience in acting, thanks to a recent appearance on OWN's Queen Sugar, where he played a trans man named Toine.
When explaining the experience to GLAAD, Michael said, “I was so moved and honored; there aren't many acting roles about trans people, let alone trans men in TV and films.”
Michael has previously performed in many other productions including Blue Blood, Girls, Gossip Girl, Person of Interest, as well as The Detour, yet all of these were cisgender roles. Michael said he always wanted to play trans roles, but finding them was difficult until he discovered the Queen Sugar script.
"I've found that often when things are written by people outside of the trans experience, they tend to focus on these common tropes: the painful disclosure, or the physical aspects of transition itself," Michael said. "The characters tend to be pre-transition or early in transition, and the storylines they are involved in are mainly focused on their transition and them seeking other people's acceptance or their non-trans love interest or family members' reaction."
Michael said, when speaking about the difference of this trans character “Toine and Ralph's relationship is much more reflective of the experiences I've had with long-time friends and I hadn't seen that on screen yet. I was excited at the thought of sharing this with people who may not know that they know trans people in their personal life.”
Michael plans on playing more trans roles, adding that he’s “happy that I am working at a time when there are roles like Toine being written. At a time when writers, producers have been open to the input of trans artists and advocates and are holding space for full and authentic trans narratives—and reaching out for trans actors for these parts."