It goes without saying that the level of representation for transgender men and women in the entertainment industry has been slim to none. And while the entertainment world has been doing a better job of representing trans people on screen, more work can be done.
Hopefully, it can happen sooner rather than later.
That said, you’re likely a fan of the procedural hit show 9-1-1: Lone Star on Fox if you love inclusive casts. Not only does this show deliver amazing storylines, but fans can also relate to the characters on the show.
One of those characters is Paul Strickland, portrayed by Brian Michael Smith, who's representing the LGBTQ+ community on the show. Brian does play the role of a transgender man, so viewers have been wondering if he’s actually trans in real life. Keep reading for the 4-1-1.
Brian Michael Smith is trans in real life.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people are fearful to be who they truly are due to ignorance and harsh criticism. While representation and inclusion have been hot topics in the beauty world, they can actually span all areas of the entertainment industry. So, when TV show casts actually have inclusive casts, that's worthy of praise.
It’s no surprise that 9-1-1: Lone Star star Brian Michael Smith is getting his roses. Not only is he doing an amazing job with his role of Paul on the hit show, but he’s also showing everyone that it’s OK to accept yourself and be who you are.
While most roles are not examples of art imitating life, Brian’s role fits the bill. And that’s because he is an accomplished, transgender man in real life. In fact, he’s actually made history as the first Black transgender man in a series on network television.
In an interview with NBC News, he shared how he bridged the gap between his actual life and the characters he plays.
“There were a lot of experiences I had during my transition and post-transition, and I feel that I learned a lot, and I wanted to share that through my work as an artist," he said. “I felt that because of the amount of time that I’ve been training and the experiences I’ve been able to collect, I’m at a place as a performer that I could truly bring these things to work.”
And while there are many actors that prefer to shy away from certain roles out of fear of exposing their true identity, he loves being able to bring this conversation to the table for Americans to understand.
“That’s something I really like about 9-1-1: Lone Star is that they allow my character to just be who he is, while also at other times exploring his trans experience and giving room for that as well,” Brian told Advocate.
“I’m like, in no world would a trans man in a new environment, who is coming from an environment where he was experiencing discrimination and animosity for being different, would he be that open and forthcoming with someone that he does not really know," he continued.
“And it’s an open locker room. There’s other people walking around. We are introducing this character and his experiences to Middle America to understand. There’s ways to do it that make more sense for the character and for the experience, and it’s just more authentic.”
Brian’s role as Paul is not his first time playing a transgender character.
While it’s great that 9-1-1: Lone Star has a transgender man on the show, this is not Brian’s first rodeo. In fact, the actor has played a trans man on the hit OWN series Queen Sugar.
If you’re familiar with Queen Sugar, then you likely know the character Officer Antoine “Toine” Wilkins. Toine was a close friend to the main character Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe).
He used his character on that show as a vehicle to come out as a trans man. And the news was huge since Brian was acting for five years before scoring the role as Toine.
There are so many people sitting in Brian’s shoes who are afraid to live out loud. But if his story shows you one thing, it’s that being open and honest about who you are will provide you with the ultimate level of peace and happiness.
9-1-1: Lone Star airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.