brian michael smith
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Brian Michael Smith Came Out as Transgender on 'Queen Sugar'

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Jan. 20 2020, Updated 2:39 p.m. ET

Over the last three years or so, you may have heard the name Brian Michael Smith dropped at one point or another. Whether you're familiar with the Michigan-born actor from his role on Queen Sugar, or if you solely remember him as Pierce Williams on The L Word, there's no denying he has a memorable presence.

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We cherish the fact that Brian Michael Smith came out as transgender on Queen Sugar (because really, it was seriously inspirational!), and we're looking to know more about the actor. So, here's everything you need to know about the man behind some of Hollywood's most groundbreaking TV characters.

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Brian Michael Smith is a lifelong actor from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

From a young age, Brian knew he wanted to pursue acting. He grew up as a "theater kid" and ended up going to Kent State University in Ohio to study acting, according to Broadway World. He quickly realized he wanted to pursue on-screen roles (as opposed to stage acting), and after college, taught drama and filmmaking to young adults at University of Michigan. 

He didn't work at UM for too long — he quickly moved to the Big Apple to continue working with young adults, at Manhattan's LGBT Community Center. Simultaneously, he was studying acting with a trainer, and performed with a number of sketch and improv troops. After landing a few Off-Broadway roles, he eventually scored a number of on-screen roles, including a cop on Girls, Julius Copernicus on Copernicus and Starr, and eventually Toine on Queen Sugar.

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Brian's role on 'Queen Sugar' helped him publicly come out.

In his role on the critically-acclaimed series, Queen Sugar, Brian plays the role of Toine Wilkins, a transgender cop, and the dear friend of the series' main character, Ralph Angel. The show pushes viewers to think more about diversity in the black community. And according to NBC, Brian used the role of Toine as a vehicle to essentially come out publicly as transgender.

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Brian had been acting for about five years before landing the role of Toine, and apparently, he had not publicly come out in Hollywood yet. This was his way of telling the world that he was transgender — although he was born female, he identified as male from a very young age, and he eventually transitioned, according to Pride.

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Smith is currently working on '9-1-1' spinoff, 'Lone Star.'

In Ryan Murphy's 9-1-1 spinoff, Lonestar, Brian Michael Smith is playing the role of Paul Strickland, a transgender male firefighter who is observant and hard-working, according to Afropunk.

In a statement released by GLAAD, he said: “I was excited at the thought of sharing this with people who may not know that they know trans people in their personal life,” according to Afropunk. As black transgender men are largely marginalized  — especially on television — this is a very important role for him.

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Brian keeps his personal life very private.

Publicly, not much is known about Brian's personal life. He mainly uses Instagram for promoting his shows, showing off seriously steamy gym selfies, and advocating for LGBT issues. According to a forum called Let's Run, it appears that Brian may be married to a woman, but very little is known about who she is.

There's no denying Brian Michael Smith is a groundbreaking actor in the LGBT community, the black community, and in general. We'll have our eye on him, and until he scores his next role, we can't wait to watch him on 9-1-1 Lonestar on FOX at 8 p.m. 

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