Alexandra Grey defines what hard work, unmovable determination, and true pride are. From the humblest beginnings struggling in Los Angeles, she has elevated herself to working on high profile shows like Chicago Med and the groundbreaking Transparent, and is helping to show that when she is chosen for a role, she can be chosen for being a phenomenal actress, not simply for being a phenomenal “trans” actress. Her work with the Absolut Pride campaign this year only elevates her role as a trans advocate and equality trailblazer. I sat down for a chat with Grey and we talked about her rise to prominence in the community, why seeing the faces of our community on television and in the media is crucial, and how working with a company that believes in equality for all like Absolut is a true game changer.
Michael Cook: From Transparent to Chicago Med,you are quickly becoming one of the most outspoken and prominent members of our community, and now you are part of the Absolut Pride campaign, shot be the legendary David LaChapelle. What is it like to be a part of that campaign?
Alexandra Grey: It was really fun. I was so excited to get the call to be a part of it, and it was just such a good time! Getting into costumes, all of that stuff. I do that when I work and do television, but to really get to go back and go back to that time period, and wear clothes from the 70’s was just so much fun. I also got to work with some incredible people who are now friends, so it was really very inspiring.
MC: What is it like to have a corporation like Absolut, who has always been supportive of our community, to be truly putting their money where their mouth is and truly offering support to the community?
AG: It really is great. This is the first year that I really noticed that a lot of brands are really going out of their way to reach out to the LGBT community, I have really started seeing them everywhere. With Absolut, I think it says that it is not about the politics or the money or whether or not we will lose customers because we are supporting LGBT people. We are just going to do this and we are gonna make a statement. That is what I think we fight for in the media and in the world; to be recognized without people worrying about their brand and their money. I think for them to go ahead and do something this large says a lot about the company and how they are standing up for equality. That is what the brand is about; it can’t be about just making money, because there could always be people who drink their brand that don’t like LGBT issues, but they are taking the risk anyway. It doesn’t matter to them, we are making a statement and this is what it is. I think that it’s awesome.
MC: What do you think it is about the trans experience that the younger generation is not really aware of?
AG: Well I have been very grateful to play some great roles on television myself. I think that there are still some misconceptions though. I think that the world has not gotten the chance to really see trans people just being normal people, playing doctors, lawyers and children; just normal roles that you see any other actor playing. I think many times you see the stereotypes, like the prostitutes and the crackheads, so I love to see more diversity when it comes to storytelling and telling all of our stories. Our community faces real hardship and we go through things. It would be nice if we got to see ourselves all the time. Maybe it would not just during Pride, but during corporate campaigns throughout the year. Perhaps a trans person can be hired as a spokesperson for a brand or product. During Pride month we are going to make sure our voices are heard, but that it is also heard during the other eleven months; we need to remind people that we exist.
I would love to do a campaign with Absolut again, maybe during Christmas, or Valentine’s Day. We just need to include these communities just because. It needs to be “we want Alexandra Grey” just because. It could be because she is a fabulous role model and we worked with her and we want her just because; it does not have to do with me as person. Someone watching that may see a trans person getting that opportunity; I think that is how you normalize it and show the next generation that there is opportunity for all of us.
MC: Do you think that the trans community is truly having a pivotal moment in the culture right now?
AG: I am the kind of person that really just wants more and more, but yes I do think we are having a moment. I think we had one when Laverne Cox first came out, but I also think that was her moment. We now have trans people in lots of different lanes. I think Poseis great, but I want to see more trans persons of color everywhere. Last month, five trans women of color were murdered and they look just like me. That makes everything kind of worse. I want to see representation of myself. There are lots of trans people in the media who are really having a moment and who are really changing the game. I am so grateful to see that diversity and to see those opportunities. I think we are having a moment, but I really just want more and more.
MC: What inspires you?
AG: What inspires me is to remember where I have come from. I just did a panel at the Los Angeles LGBT center for Trans Pride and they asked me what was the moment when the possible became possible. I thought about when I came to Los Angeles homeless, lived in the streets and in the shelters; I came here wanting to be an actor and an artist and wanted to be on television and I am now on television! My name is being mentioned with the likes of Laverne Cox, who I used to watch when I was going to kill myself eight and a half years ago living in Chicago depressed. Anything is possible. Every day that I get up I look around and realize that I am blessed. The fact that I am still here another day… I am blessed.