Transgender Acting | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Transgender Acting

MA/MFA Performance Pratice as Research

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Gendered Intelligence, My Genderation and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama have teamed up to offer the Transgender Acting project.

"One of the most cited problems we come across when talking to producers and directors is that nobody knows where to look, despite being willing to search for trans actors." (J. Tebble, "Is the Tide Turning for Transgender Actors?")

Beginning in August, 20 transgender people started on an acting project at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (TransActing project).

Through the project, they will experience top-quality acting, movement and voice classes and will meet a number of industry professionals including casting directors Julia Crampsie and Sarah Hughes and actors Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Rebecca Root. The project lead is Dr. Catherine McNamara, Pro-Dean (Students) at Central and reader in Applied Theatre. Catherine is also co-founder and Director for Gendered Intelligence.

The project is about nurturing the creativity and talent of participants, all of whom identify as trans and/ or non-binary and doing so in a high-profile way that gives producers, directors and others involved in making TV, film, radio, theatre and other media, a place to look for that talent. Transgender actors are ready, willing and able to be seen, to audition, to be considered.

Central and Gendered Intelligence – a community interest organisation that aims to increase understandings of gender diversity - have joined forces with My Genderation to deliver the project TransActing.

Dr Catherine McNamara said of the project:

“As someone that works at Central, one of the leading Schools for theatre and performance education and training, I want to be part of the revolution in diversifying the creative and cultural sector and enable more individual people from all kinds of backgrounds to become the new generation of makers and thinkers in the arts. Together as a project team we want to contribute to an increase in the number actors who identify as trans, non-binary, genderqueer and more because we think that will make for better art.”

The Act for Change project, founded by Danny Lee Wynter, aims to strengthen diversity in the live and recorded arts, and to communicate to the unrepresented audiences that a future exists with them firmly featured in it. All About Trans work with the media to improve the relationship between the media & trans people in the UK. Some of this work is about representation of trans people in news articles that often scandalise and mis-pronoun people, and some of it is about how shows such as Hollyoaks, Eastenders etc. can develop a trans character that will serve as a respectful representation of a trans person and even possibly, cast a trans actor into that role.

With a similar intention to strengthen diversity within the arts, this project will be giving trans people who are interested in performing, the opportunity to develop skills in screen acting, working with text and the body, understanding the voice as an instrument, audition techniques and more.

Dr Jay Stewart, Co-Founder of Gendered Intelligence, said:

“At Gendered Intelligence we are all about getting trans people's voices heard and raising our visibility right across culture. This includes TV, film, theatre, and the arts. In order to do this we need to develop our skills so that we can take to the stage with confidence and ownership. We need to own the words we use and the stories we tell about trans lives. This collaboration with Central and my Genderation clearly has mileage in mobilising the Trans community within the world of acting and performance.”

Fox Fisher of My Genderation and Lucky Tooth Films said:

"We need more role models in the media, acting in trans roles and in cis roles too. I think this project will start to open up doors and provide the missing pieces of the puzzle to equip trans people with the knowledge and confidence to apply to any role."

The project is taking place throughout August and September. Screenings of the short film will take place in November & December.


Together as a project team we want to contribute to an increase in the number of actors who identify as trans, non-binary, genderqueer and more because we think that will make for better art.

Dr Catherine McNamara, Pro-Dean (Students), reader in Applied Theatre and co-founder and Director of Gendered Intelligence