Theo Germaine DAZED100 2020
Courtesy of Theo Germaine
“I’d make a short film about the real-life anxieties trans people face, with an all-trans cast and crew

Theo Germaine

Age - 30
 Chicago, United States
Theo Germaine
“I’d make a short film about the real-life anxieties trans people face, with an all-trans cast and crew

If you’re a Ryan Murphy fan (who isn’t?), you might recognise Theo Germaine as James Sullivan in The Politician – a much-needed “trans male role that doesn’t revolve around gender”, as the actor puts it. Germaine also starred in the 2019 indie comedy TV series Work in Progress, on Showtime, in which their character, a trans man named Chris, makes an older lesbian character reevaluate her not just her sexuality, but her entire life. Beyond acting, Germaine is also an activist, regularly speaking about direct action we can all take to help at-risk trans people, and their ambition to radically shift the playing field for trans actors in film and TV.

Born in Murphysboro, Illinois, a very conservative small town, Germaine says they were conditioned as a girl, and spent a couple of years passing as a man, before settling into “a more fluid state of being”. “I feel like I’ve lived many lives and genders in a short period of time and have a lot of perspective on the human condition that puts me in a very unique position for storytelling and acting,” they reflect.

Next up on Germaine's career to-do list – along with being in season two of The Politician and season two of Work in Progress – they are working on HBO Max’s new docuseries Equal, which is about queer history. Germaine will read the first full-length play they wrote at the New York Theatre Workshop, which deals with mental health, polyamory, trans identities, and family trauma. They have written their first short film.

When it comes to your work, what are you most proud of? 

Theo Germaine: I’m most proud of booking the television roles I’ve been cast in. I set myself a goal of trying to be a series regular on a TV show by the time I was 40, and it happened really early. I’ve overcome a lot in my life – debilitating childhood trauma, growing up in a small town, and being trans especially – and I am proud of myself for not giving up despite the obstacles I have faced. I’m grateful to be alive and to be achieving some success in my dream job.  

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?

Theo Germaine: I’m interested in bettering the industry for trans people, because there are still so many limitations placed on us due to some folk’s closed-mindedness and lack of perspective. I’m also interested in improving work conditions for actors and crew with disabilities – I want to make the industry accessible to those it hasn’t been for before, or (has only been) in limited qualities. I’m also interested in learning how to make film production greener and how to continue to pursue my dreams while being a responsible global citizen.  

“I’ve overcome a lot in my life and I am proud of myself for not giving up despite the obstacles I have faced” - Theo Germaine

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Theo Germaine: I want to make my first short film. It will be my first step in making my dream of helping create content for trans actors and crew. It’s about an encounter between two trans people in a locker room, and deals with real-life anxieties trans people face on the daily, raises the question of what is ‘passing’, and engages the audience with the different and honest and varied perspectives trans people face depending on how they fit into the established, socially constructed binary, as well as being about solidarity and resistance.  

This project will help me break out of just being an actor, and help additionally establish me as a maker – someone who is in love with the industry and wants to make it the best it can be.

Amelia Abraham

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