Earlier this week, media outlets reported that Scarlett Johansson was teaming up with Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders for the mob drama, Rub & Tug. Johansson will play trans crime boss Dante "Tex" Gill, who operated a massage parlor in Pittsburg that served as a front for prostitution in the 1970s.
In the wake of her casting, trans actors were quick to criticize the news, saying the choice was yet another example of cisgender actors stealing trans narratives.
On Tuesday, a rep for the actress responded to the criticism in a statement — itself problematic — obtained by Bustle: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
Tambor, Leto, and Huffman have all portrayed trans characters — and earned praise and recognition for it. Tambor received an Emmy for his role in Jill Solloway's Amazon series Transparent. Jared Leto won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. Huffman earned an Oscar nom for the 2005 dramedy, Transamerica.
However, Johansson's response — and the backlash surrounding her casting — points to a larger issue in Hollywood, one that Transparent star Trace Lysette (who plays Shea) called out in a tweet on Tuesday:
Sense8's Jamie Clayton also pointed to the idea that trans actors in Hollywood rarely have the opportunity to audition for trans roles, if ever.
It's clear that more conversation about opportunities for trans actors in Hollywood need to happen. Trans activist Jen Richards even suggested the Hollywood Reporter host a roundtable discussion on the matter, which Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox seemed to be into.