Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, recently sent out a casting call for an actress to play a character that is a 14-year-old transgender female in an upcoming animation movie.
SF Trans March posted a photo of the casting call on Twitter, with the caption, “We have confirmed this is legit, so share away!”
We have confirmed this is legit, so share away! pic.twitter.com/oKLFzyjXIL
— Trans March (@transmarch) April 20, 2021
The photo was of a document complete with the Pixar logo and office information. It said:
Pixar is casting a youth voice-over role for an upcoming animated project.
The character, Jess, is a 14-year-old transgender girl. She’s compassionate, funny, and always has your back.
We’re looking for actresses 12-17 years old who:
Are enthusiastic, outgoing, funny, and energetic
Feel comfortable acting in front of a microphone
Can authentically portray a 14-year-old transgender girl
It ends with contact information for the legal guardian of the child to contact the casting department at the film company.
After posting the picture, SF Trans March followed up with clarifying tweets, writing, “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.” As more people seemingly began to comment on the news, the group tweeted, “Hey folks, notifications are getting overwhelming so we’re muting.”
Pixar has made similar moves in the past and created animated features and short films that include characters who are more diverse or support Hollywood’s chosen narratives.
SF Gate reported on past Pixar films:
The short film “Out” showed the company’s first openly gay protagonist as he struggled to share his sexual identity with his parents. “Loop” follows an autistic teen as she takes a canoe trip out on a lake inspired by Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, developing a heartwarming friendship in the process. “Float” features Filipino American characters, and “Wind” is an allegory for the director’s family’s immigration story.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a media watchdog group that tracks representation of LGBTQ people, reported its insights on how LGBTQ characters are depicted in films.
GLAAD reported that in 2019, a repeated issue found in several films was that “LGBTQ characters are too often featured in major blockbuster films in moments so small many audiences could have easily missed them.”
The group also discussed the lack of diversity of LGBTQ characters in films in 2019. “For the second year in a row, the racial diversity of LGBTQ characters decreased considerably with only 34 percent (17) of LGBTQ characters being people of color (POC) in 2019,” the group said.
As for transgender characters, GLAAD found there were no “transgender characters in the 118 major studio films released in 2019, a finding consistent with the previous two years.” Among animated and family films, the group reported that two were “inclusive.”
The group added, “LGBTQ families and parents are part of the world experienced by kids, and should be part of the movies they see with their families. And LGBTQ youth, who are coming out at younger ages as cultural acceptance grows, deserve to see age-appropriate, positive and truthful representations of themselves in film. These small moments seen these past few years need to progress to more significant characters and stories appearing more regularly.”
A 2016 report by the Williams Institute found that 0.6% of U.S. adults identified as transgender. A Gallup report released in February of this year said that 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT, with 0.6% of all U.S. adults identifying as transgender, the same as the 2016 report.
Hollywood has actively sought to diversify its films in recent years, going so far as to impose certain diversity requirements in order for films to be eligible for awards. A poll conducted by The Daily Wire showed that the majority of Americans do not believe diversity requirements should be a main factor in a film receiving a nomination for an Oscar.
The Daily Wire reported:
Sixty-three percent of respondents agreed that “films should solely be judged on their artistic merits,” while only 24% of respondents said “diversity should be a significant factor” in a film’s nomination. The other respondents indicated they were unsure.