Trace Lysette has a starring role in Hustlers opposite Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B and Lizzo. (STX Entertainment)
Trace Lysette has opened up about the uncertainty she faced after accusing former Transparent co-star Jeffrey Tambor of sexual harassment.
With a major role in the Jennifer Lopez-led Hustlers, Lysette’s star has never shone brighter than right now.
But the trans actor has said that she was forced to reconsider her acting career when production on her Amazon Prime show Transparent shut down in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Tambor, its lead.
“When our show didn’t go back into production and I couldn’t book anything else, I wasn’t able to qualify for health insurance,” she told Them.
“It’s an interesting thing to walk down the street and have people come up to you in tears while talking about your work, but then look at your bank account and it’s not adding up.
“[I wondered] at what point does this industry start to love me back? When do I get to feel financially secure?”
Trace Lysette accused Jeffrey Tambor of sexual harassment
Transparent was put on hiatus after Lysette and another trans women accused Tambor of sexual harassment in November 2017. He has denied all allegations.
Days later, Tambor announced that he would not return to the show, with bosses confirming he had been axed in February 2018.
The actor’s dismissal halted plans for a fifth season of the show, which eventually returned in September 2019 with a feature length ‘Musicale Finale’.
Lysette said that during this period of uncertainty she wasn’t sure if she would be able to continue pursuing acting as a career.
“I knew I couldn’t go back to the cis-heteronormative strip club, so I was just wondering what my options were and how I was going to keep this ship afloat.”
Trace Lysette worked in real-life Hustlers strip club
The “cis-heteronormative strip club” she referred to is Scores, where she danced for eight years before winning the part of Shea in Transparent.
The legendary New York venue is now the subject of Hustlers, which tells the true story of a group of strippers who began conning money out of rich patrons.
When Lysette first heard that the film was being made in August 2018, she tweeted the film’s writer and director Lorene Scarafia: “I cannot wait for this film and I would absolutely LOVE to be part of it somehow, someway.”
The tweet prompted Scarafia to invite Lysette to lunch. After hour-and-a-half meeting – “we just vibed, telling old stories about what it was like” – Lysette was written into the script.
It’s not lost on me how special it is to have that kind of full-circle moment as a trans actor.
Lysette said that playing a character whose story is so similar to her own presented its own challenges.
“The club looked so dead-on and felt so eerily familiar that it gave me anxiety,” she said.
“But I had to push through and tell myself: ‘You’re here as an actress and it’s time to throw the robe off and do what you do.’
“It was definitely challenging in that moment, but at the same time, I wanted to honour my journey because it’s not lost on me how special it is to have that kind of full-circle moment — as a trans actor in a big blockbuster movie, no less.”