I first saw Scott Turner Schofield (known at the time as KT Kilborn) perform in December 2001 in the small space at Charis Books & More on a working version of his “Underground TRANSit” one-person show.
The show was about “five characters covering every point along the gender spectrum. In a mix of drag show, performance art, poetry, striptease and theater [in which then-Kilborn] morphs between a homecoming queen (an honor bestowed on her in high school), butch lesbian, androgynous hip-hop boy, [transgender] sadomasochistic and a ‘Simon LeBon type.’ For Kilborn, each persona is actually “all aspects of one character,” that together “explore how we physically engender ourselves.”
I just remember being very impressed.
I went on to watch Schofield, as he later became, in his other one-person shows, “Debutante Balls” and “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps,” also in Atlanta. I was impressed not only with Schofield as a performer and an educator, but with the subjects he tackled. I was newly out as a lesbian, and learning about how gender is not always so easy to place in a box was so inspiring, enlightening, and also very entertaining. He’s also done numerous diversity trainings at universities, gave a TED talk, wrote a book, hosted a fundraiser for Charis at the Star Bar in 2012 in Atlanta featuring Amy Ray and trans writer T Cooper, and named Emory’s Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year Award in 2014.
Now it’s so exciting to watch Scofield move on to the even bigger leagues as he debuts Friday, May 8, on the CBS soap opera “The Bold & Beautiful,” at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast channel 809. Not only is he going to be appearing in a TV show before millions of people, he’s the first trans actor to have a recurring role on a soap.
Schofield, now living in California, took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to talk to the Georgia Voice about where he’s been and where he’s going.
Did you ever think that first Charis performance in 2001 would lead to a role on B&B?
What an amazing night that was. Of course I couldn’t have imagined this, but I remember women and transpeople there saying things like “you need to be in front of a MUCH larger audience.” From 100 to 30 million—not bad. And it’s because of that warmth and support I got that night and along the way that I’m here.
Over the years you’ve been acting, giving TED talks, teaching workshops, speaking on trans issues. What led to wanting to starring in a soap opera?
I wanted to be in anything that would let me bring all of myself to the work. Artist, advocate, transman. I’m as baffled as anyone that it would start in a soap opera, but I’m in great company: Demi Moore, Juliane Moore, Jonathan Groff…
Tell us about your role on the show and the process you took to get it.
B&B introduced one of their main characters, Maya Avant, as Trans last month. She’s played by actress Karla Mosely, who is not Trans. That’s not ideal, obviously, but they created a Trans role for a trans actor to do the next right thing—which is all anyone can do. That’s me, in Nick. Nick is Maya’s friend from before she enters the world of the show. He supports her in her choices (that’s all I can say)—it’s very Janet Mock “Redefining Realness,” which I love so much! I was approached by the casting director after she saw my name on a list she got from GLAAD. It was surreal, and yet, I have 13 years of being an award winning stage actor—I’ve toured the world and acted both solo and in companies—so I was uniquely prepared. Right time, right place, right person. And a lot of luck!
With Bruce Jenner coming out as transgender, it seems now that everyone will most definitely have to say they at least know of someone who is transgender. Is this a good thing? Why?
So, before Jenner, only 8 percent of Americans said they knew a transgender person. I guess that’s why people could let it go by when we were dismissed from the first Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or when 20-30 people a year are murdered just for being Trans—and nobody reports it. Out of sight, out of mind. So, yes, I think it’s a good thing. Our time has come to be seen as human beings who deserve rights and protections like all Americans. We just need 51 percent of Americans to think so. And I think we’ll get there in not too long thanks to media makers who will tell our stories truthfully.
Did you watch soaps growing up? Did you have a favorite?
I grew up in England, and I watched “Neighbours,” “East Enders,” and “Coronation Street.” “Neighbours” was by far my fave—Kylie Minogue was a star, also Guy Ritchie. I don’t know why people pooh-pooh soaps. They’re where it’s at!
What’s in the future for you?
Well, Friday is my TV debut on B&B! Then Saturday I am so lucky to get to walk the red carpet at the GLAAD Media Awards with Karla. My fiancée, Jessica Lynn Johnson, and I will release our webseries, “Ze Said/She Said” on YouTube next week. We consulted with Stan Zimmerman on the script—he was a head writer for “Roseanne,” “Golden Girls,” and “Gilmore Girls.” He’s gay, too, and just an awesome guy. It’s a surreal, comic take on our real life as a Transgender/cisgender, yogi/Christian, queer/straight couple. Very “Odd Couple.” We hope it’ll get noticed for the identities and issues it takes on, and the way we do it—there’s nothing like it out there. So I hope that is received well, so we can make a whole season of webisodes. Beyond that, I hope they expand my role on B&B, and that there will be a need for more transgender actors in TV and film.