Hustlers, one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the fall, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday night ahead of its U.S. release. Its cast came out to support the film, including Trace Lysette.
“This is not a common experience for a trans actor,” Lysette told Variety on the red carpet when asked to reflect on her role in the film.
The Jennifer Lopez-produced movie is inspired by a 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler, in which a group of former strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Hustlers also stars Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, and Lizzo.
During the red carpet event ahead of the TIFF premiere, Lysette was asked if she had advice for young trans women. “Dream, baby girl, because listen: It’s only going to get better for us, so keep your head up and don’t give up,” she said.
Lysette plays Tracey, who is one of the strippers in the film.
Her other acting credits include Shea on the comedy-drama web television show Transparent, which tells the story of Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman who is the head of a Jewish family and is in the process of transitioning. Lysette also appears on the OWN series David Makes Man and has guested on the FX ballroom series Pose.
In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress opened up about the importance of representation for trans youth.
“I get messages every day from trans youth telling me how important it is that they can see an actual trans body on TV and how much it means for them that a trans actor is playing a trans role because they can finally see themselves,” Lysette said, “So many trans people are just trying to be seen for who they really are in true depictions that are sometimes so elusive in Hollywood. I really take the messages to heart; it lets me know that my job is worthwhile.”
Hustlers drew raves at TIFF, with reviewers calling it “funny, empowering, sexy, emotional, and a bit scary” and Lopez for giving “a full-force performance... genuinely deserving of awards consideration.” The Lorene Scafaria-directed movie currently holds a 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.