Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-02-19
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Trans actress Shakina Nayfack, out in the open
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jake Ekdahl
2016-05-17

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Shakina Nayfack has starred in two autobiographical rock musicals, and played the role of the Statue of Liberty in Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty. She is also the founding artistic director of Musical Theater Factory, and the first transgender woman to receive a Lilly Award.

Nayfack will have a new addition to her long list of accomplishments this July, when she debuts her role as the new character Lola, in Hulu's series Difficult People.

Nayfack spoke with Windy City Times about her new role, her own life experiences and the transgender community's continuing struggle for equality.

Windy City Times: Lola seems like a breath of fresh air. We finally have a transgender character that's strong and confrontational, not victimized and mistreated.

Shakina Nayfack: Well I know that [the writers] Julie Klausner and Scott King wanted to create a character that was just as difficult as everyone and the show, and they wanted someone who was strong and offensive—but offensive in all the right ways.

WCT: You've talked about your mother being a strong woman, did she influence the creation of Lola at all?

SN: Huh, I guess in a roundabout way you could say she did. Because my Mom instilled in me a lot of my values in social justice, and Lola has a really inflated and problematic idea of social justice. She's really like an aggravated and enflamed version of me.

WCT: Your own life has had a lot of challenges. You had a tough time in high school with some less-than-accepting guys. And in 2002, you were attacked.

SN: Yeah, I consider myself a survivor. I've survived a lot of things. I've survived discrimination, bullying, assault, sexual violence—and most importantly, survived my own impulse to self-destruct.

That's were I found a lot of my righteous anger.

WCT: Switching topics, there have been some recent anti-transgender laws being passed in the country, most notably in North Carolina.

SN: Yeah, I'm actually in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to take my show down to North Carolina.

I have a new show called Manifest Pussy. It's basically a combination of my two previous shows. I'm building this new show to take it down there, and piss in all the wrong bathrooms.

WCT: Do you think more transgender actors and characters will start being casted in popular shows, like Difficult People?

SN: Yeah. Right now, trans visibility is sort of on trend. But [there's] a really interesting balance that were trying to find. We want more representation, but we want to get away from these overly sympathetic portrayals of trans people. We also have an increase in violence and discrimination—and sanctioned discrimination—against trans people in everyday life. It's this really precarious thing, we get this visibility but we're also seeing this rise in hate crime.

The stories that we're telling need to shift to include trans stories by trans people, not just the fantasies of what non-trans people think trans people are going through. Because people find coming-out stories, stories of abuse, stories of sex work and violence, really compelling and sympathetic. We get focused on tropes that aren't actually reflective of the wide range of trans experiences.

WCT: What advice would you give to aspiring actors?

SN: Like, every cliche just flew through my head [laughs], but the biggest thing is, just never stop working on your craft and make sure you're honoring your body as the vessel of your work. And make sure you're making art with people you love.

WCT: How about to young trans people?

SN: I would also say honor your body as your vessel, and don't take any shit. [Laughs]

WCT: What's the most fun you've ever had with a role?

SN: I don't want to give any spoilers away, but there was a scene in Difficult People where, in the writer's room, they came up with a list of one-liner responses that Lola might have. And instead of choosing one, they just put all six in the script and it was really fun to try them out.

WCT: Your rock musicals One Woman Show and Post-Op seem like they could have helped you step into Lola's shoes.

SN: Yeah, you know, those are my stories, they're autobiographic. So really the character was just a performative version of me.

But I think as a performance artist in general, I've always worked to be proud on stage in my skin. Even if I had to challenge my own issues to get there. And Lola gives no fucks, but Shakina is still working through her own security. I have learned to give less fucks, and that has informed the way I approach Lola.

WCT: You put a lot of thought into choosing the name "Shakina," didn't you?

SN: Absolutely, yeah. it comes from the Hebrew word Shekinah. I'd been searching for a name since I was very young, and it just clicked for me one day.

It refers to the in-dwelling feminine presence of the divine spirit.

WCT: In Manuel vs the Statue of Liberty, you play the Statue of Liberty. How meaningful is that to you?

SN: I mean, that was so huge, you know? Because she's an American icon, and she represents the source of hope for so many people coming to this country, including my great grandparents who came to Russia and started a family in Chicago.

Border-crossing has always been an essential component and the art I like to make.

WCT: What was it like growing up in Southern California?

SN: Well you know, Jacob, the mid-to-late '90s were pretty brutal in Orange County. I grew up in a really conservative area, and I came out really young—as gay at the time. To a lot of people, gay still equated AIDS and there was not a lot of understanding or vocabulary—certainly around trans identities.

I tried to start a club, which eventually caused riots on my campus and got me kicked out of school.

WCT: What do you do to relax?

SN: I'm still honestly learning how to relax and what that really means, but I think I like making a cup of tea and reading. I love swimming. I meditate, stretch, do yoga. Those kind of things.

I'm a creature of movement, and I usually feel better when I'm moving.

Season two of "Difficult People" premieres Tuesday, July 12. Interested persons can donate to her "Manifest Pussy" campaign at youcaring.com/manifestpussy . For more information on Shakina Nayfack, check out Shakina.nyc .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Majority of active duty servicemembers oppose trans military ban 2020-02-27 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA ) — the nation's largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing fairness and ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Report: 378K trans citizens could encounter voting hurdles 2020-02-27 - A new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law says that an estimated 965,350 transgender adults will be eligible to ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 JUDICIAL Transgender attorney Jill Rose Quinn on judicial race, making history 2020-02-25 - Since 1997, Jill Rose Quinn has had her own private law practice working on family and criminal law, LGBTQ issues, financial matters and ...


Gay News

Trans scientist kicks off TGNC-affirming symposium 2020-02-23 - Transgender climate scientist, humanist and activist Dr. Mika Tosca's keynote kicked off the day-long "Being a Stronger Ally: A Trans/GNC Affirming Symposium" Feb. ...


Gay News

Suburban district settles anti-trans lawsuit 2020-02-19 - After more than four years, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 settled a lawsuit brought by transgender former student Nova Maday, who alleged discrimination. ...


Gay News

NUNN ON ONE TELEVISION Actress brings Da'Vine performances to various roles 2020-02-19 - Performer Da'Vine Joy Randolph grew up in Philadelphia and studied musical theater in school. This led to a Tony-nominated performance in the musical ...


Gay News

Starbucks pro-trans ad airs, but employees criticize company 2020-02-11 - Starbucks UK released an ad showing a young trans man getting to use his chosen name while getting a coffee—but the ad has ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sean Hayes, Rihanna, Cher, Billy Porter, Laura Dern 2020-02-11 - Sean Hayes, Carrie Aizley, Margo Martindale, Jim Rash, Matthew Broderick and Allison Janney are part of the cast of the film Lazy Susan, ...


Gay News

Bloomberg under fire for anti-trans comments; campaign responds [UPDATE] 2020-02-07 - Days after unveiling a five-part, multi-pronged LGBT platform, Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is being criticized for ...


Gay News

'We Don't Want Your MTV' Feb. 10-15 2020-02-07 - The exhibit "We Don't Want Your MTV" will run Feb. 10-15 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ( SAIC ) ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.