In August 2018, Josie Totah, then a 17-year-old sitcom star on Mindy Kaling’s Champions, came out as transgender in an article for TIME magazine. “I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy,” she wrote in the powerful piece. “I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate and a new world.”
By then, Totah was already a highly coveted name. At 15, she wrote and sold a show, Aunt Nancy, to NBC; as an actor, she’d stolen scenes in Glee, Other People, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Born in San Francisco and now based in Los Angeles, Totah has continued to establish herself in the industry while championing organisations such as the Human Rights Campaign. She explains to Dazed, “I believe in supporting their work to ensure basic equal rights to the LGBTQ+ community, and continuing to educate and increase understanding.”
Above all, Totah boasts a magnetic screen presence, particularly in comedy: her upcoming roles include Amy Poehler’s Moxie, Disney’s Magic Camp, and NBC’s Saved by the Bell reboot.
What is your creative manifesto?
Josie Totah: I strive to tell stories that depict the underrepresented, as for my entire life I have felt deeply marginalised by all of my identities.
How do you want to influence the future?
Josie Totah: I wish to unite people in their differences by educating through empathy and spreading awareness.
What creative or philanthropic project would you undertake with the £10k grant should you win the Dazed 100?
Josie Totah: I would donate to the Human Rights Campaign – they are the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organisation.