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‘Transparent’ creator on why she’d cast a trans actor instead of Jeffrey Tambor now

Posted at 2:27 PM, Sep 24, 2016
Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Soloway arrive for the Writers Guild Awards in Century City, California, February 13, 2016. / AFP / CHRIS DELMAS (Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Soloway arrive for the Writers Guild Awards in Century City, California, February 13, 2016. (Photo credit: CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

When the third season of “Transparent” debuts on Amazon Prime Friday, it will do so with years of acclaim and a growing fan base behind it. But the show’s creator, Jill Soloway, says that if she were to start the show over now, it’d be very different in one key way: Jeffrey Tambor would not be its star.

Tambor was cast “three or four years ago, before our society had progressed as much as it had,” Soloway told CNN. “And I really probably do believe were I to start all over today, it would be unimaginable for me to cast a cis man in the role of a trans woman.”

Tambor echoed Soloway’s sentiments during his acceptance speech earlier this month after he won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the show.

“Please give transgender talent a chance,” he said. “Give them auditions. Give them their story… I would be happy if I were the last cisgender male to play a transgender female.”

Soloway did acknowledge that, had it not been for Tambor’s star power, the show might not have gotten the attention it has.

“Would people have watched the show without a famous cis male at the center? And in some ways were we able to use Jeffrey’s power as an actor and his history with the world as an understood dad, the dad on ‘Arrested Development’ for example, to bring people in who wanted to watch this transition? I think that was appropriate a few years ago. I think what’s appropriate now is letting trans people tell their own stories.”

In the interim, though, Tambor, and his character, Maura Pfefferman, have become one. “It’s hard to put Maura down, so I just don’t,” he told CNN. “So you just don’t put her down. She’s just with me and so now, she’s part of me.”I mean why would I put her down? You know, I always think of her.”

Judith Light, who plays Shelly Pfefferman, Maura’s ex-wife, said this show is moving the conversation forward and is “shining a light” on something that was once taboo to talk about. “We’re saying this has to come out of the darkness and we have to discuss it,” she said. “We have to stop operating as a world in this way where we diminish other people.”

“Transparent” season 3 premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.