One year ago, Pixar introduced its first LGBTQ+ character — voiced by openly gay writer and actor Lena Waithe — in the Oscar-nominated feature Onward. Now, the animation studio is looking to break another barrier. A casting notice first posted by the official Twitter account for the annual San Francisco Trans March earlier this week reveals that Pixar is seeking a transgender performer to provide the voice of a transgender girl in an upcoming animated project.
We have confirmed this is legit, so share away! pic.twitter.com/oKLFzyjXIL
— Trans March (@transmarch) April 20, 2021
In a follow-up tweet, SF Trans March said that they had confirmed the authenticity of the casting notice with the project's casting director. "We talked to the casting director and they sent us this flyer," the group's statement reads. "They're reaching out to other orgs as well, but we got the sense we're the first to post about it."
Sorry folks, we should have been more specific with how we know this is real. We talked to the casting director and they sent us this flyer. They're reaching out to other orgs as well, but we got the sense we're the first to post about it.
— Trans March (@transmarch) April 20, 2021
Although the casting notice doesn't provide any details about the plot of the project, or whether it will be a full-length feature or a short film, it does offer a compelling sketch of this pioneering Pixar character. Jess is described as a 14-year-old transgender girl who is "compassionate, funny and always has your back." The notice goes on to say that Pixar is looking for an actress between 12 and 17 years old who is "enthusiastic, outgoing, funny and energetic" and "can authentically portray a 14-year-old transgender girl."
That emphasis on authenticity is part of a broader sea change in animation when it comes to casting. The Black Lives Matter protests last summer brought a renewed attention to the industry's lack of diversity both in writers' rooms and recording booths, with white actors frequently voicing characters of color — a practice that has been called "spoken blackface." In response, shows like The Simpsons, Central Park and Family Guy have recast a number of roles, at the behest of producers and white performers like Hank Azaria, who had preciously voiced such popular Simpsons characters as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Carl Carlson and Julio for decades.
During a recent appearance on the Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria apologized for his part in maintaining the industry's status quo for so long and called on animated shows to match the role with the right performer. "Here's the thing: if it's a character of color in particular, there's not the same level of opportunity there," he remarked. "So if it's an Indian character or a Latinx character or a Black character, please let's have that person voice the character. It's more authentic, they'll bring their experience of their culturalization to it, and let's not take jobs away from people who don't have enough." The Simpsons producers have already recast several of Azaria's roles with performers of color: Alex Désert now voices Carl, and Tony Rodriguez recently took over the role of Julio.
Pixar's casting notice is already being enthusiastically shared on Twitter, with many expressing hope that the studio will commit to authenticity by casting a transgender performer. And just as Rodriguez landed his Simpsons gig thanks to the podcast Gayest Episode Ever, social media may just play a role in making Pixar history.
TRANSGENDER PIXAR CHARACTER TRANSGENDER PIXAR CHARACTER.
NO BUT FR I THINK IMMA AUDITION. https://t.co/A2icbu7dA7
— (Clips) FAWN has a crush on Amelia (@LikeClips) April 22, 2021
Pixar Animation Studios are looking for a voice actress that can authentically portray a 14-year old transgender girl!!
THIS IS HUUUUGE!!!!! pic.twitter.com/BJTrpftZLI
— Tiernan Case (@CaseTiernan) April 22, 2021
i know i dont have a lot of following BUT IF ANYONE INTERESTED!!!! pixar is looking for a youth voice-over role, to play a 14-year old transgender girl!!! https://t.co/Tlnv9iqtjE
— lila (@steinsato) April 21, 2021
To my #trans friends - please spread this info. The only person who can authentically portray a trans character is a trans person. I hope @Pixar realizes this and hires a #transgender actress. #LGBTQ #acting #castingcall pic.twitter.com/tSo8sk1eIq
— Nikita ∞ (@nikita_engel) April 21, 2021
Re: that pixar casting call that's going around
I really hope they cast a trans girl.
"Isn't that explicitly in the flyer?"
It says looking for actresses "who can authentically portray a 14 year old trans girl."
It doesn't strictly say trans actress, and I'm cynical.
— Missy, Punk Goddess (@MysticGenesis) April 22, 2021
I hope by ‘can authentically portray a transgender girl’ they mean ‘is a transgender girl’.
But this is BIG, I have faith in Pixar and I really hope they handle this character’s story well. The opportunity it could hold would be massive. https://t.co/8gKFro2xNC
— Joe Hunter (they/them) (@imjoehunter) April 22, 2021
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