Pop Culture Fix: Laverne Cox, Angelica Ross, and Jen Richards Want To Be In The Room Where It Happens

The Room Where It Happens

I just want to say that my main celebrity crush is Jen Richards and I know it’s unprofessional to say you have a celebrity crush but every time I write about Jen Richards without revealing to you that she is my celebrity crush I feel like I am not being completely honest with you and so I’m just going to go ahead and get it out there. Jen Richards is my celebrity crush and has been ever since I moderated a panel she was on at A-Camp this spring and that doesn’t mean I can’t be even-handed when reviewing or critiquing every perfect thing she creates, okay?

For example, the best episodes in Nashville‘s history, which Jen will star in this coming season when the show moves to CMT.  She’s CMT’s first out trans actress! She’ll play a “tough but understanding physical therapist” named Allyson who helps a main character “through one of their most difficult challenges.”

It’s very easy to see how Her Story led to her role on Nashville. While the web series didn’t win the Emmy on Sunday night, its success is going to literally open doors into casting offices and writers rooms for trans actresses and writers, especially Jen Richards and Angelica Ross.

(Mey always teases me for calling Jen Richards “Jen,” like I’m on a first-name basis with her, but now that my crush is out in the open, I feel okay about it.)

Also, while we’re talking about growing trans representation and opening doors, Fast Company interviewed Laverne Cox about her upcoming role in the Rocky Horror remake and led with this headline: Laverne Cox: “I Just Wanted To Get In The Room,” which, of course, echos what so many trans actors and trans writers have been saying for years. You’re not going to find trans women with A-list cred to play trans women in big budget movies if you don’t let trans women in the door to audition for small TV roles that lead to big TV roles, like everyone else. It’s a very good interview, I think, because it covers so many of Laverne’s upcoming projects, her career so far, and it’s not afraid to talk about her activism.

I remember having a conversation years ago with my brother about this. I’m political anyway, so the question was: Do I speak up, do I speak out? [There had never been] a conversation in the mainstream media that challenged the ways in which trans stories were told. I wanted to change that, to create space for myself as a full, multi-dimensional human being, and hopefully give other trans people space to do that as well. A lot of it is just about seeing a need and speaking out, ’cause somebody’s gotta do it. It’s a civic responsibility.

Also, this is the most brilliant answer to “What inspires you?” Laverne: “I love excellence.”

Being on the red carpet at the Emmys is a huge deal. Not only does having your name attached to “Emmy-nominated” make people pay attention, but when you’re there, in person, looking oh so gorgeous, people are forced to pay attention. If you want to find out how to do Angelica Ross’ glamorous ponytail, Fashion Bomb Daily’s got you covered, for example. Just these subtle acts of celebrating trans women in everyday life helps conquer the bullshit GOP scapegoating and horrific trans storylines on our TV.


+ Sue and Mel are leaving Great British Bake Off when it goes to Channel 4. I can’t talk about it.

+ Some queer things won some Creative Arts Emmys: Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi for Making a Murderer. Transparent for production design. Jessica Jones for theme music. ‘Til It Happens To You from The Hunting Ground for Best Song. The Wiz Live! for costumes. Also, Amy Poehler finally won an Emmy. And The People vs. O.J. Simpson cleaned up, which bodes well for Ms. Sarah Paulson.

+ Heather Matarazzo — who you probably remember most from The Princess Diaries, but who I will always remember as the person who led to the greatest Jenny Schecter meltdown of all time — has a new film in the works. It’s called Stuck.

+ While the New York Times is worried about the white men under siege on this fall’s new TV shows, WaPo is more concerned with the lack of visibility for disabled people.

+ Storm Reid is going to be the lead in Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. It’s very exciting to see so many people of color associated with and cast in this project. In addition to Reid, Mindy Kaling and Oprah are two of the three heads of Madeleine L’Engle’s trinity-style endgame wizard.

Variety‘s Maureen Ryan, who has done outstanding work calling for diversity on TV in recent years, is really excited about 2017 TV.

These five programs all take on matters of race, sex, class, sexual orientation and other charged topics, but within the context of personal tales that have a hand-crafted, artisanal feel. Their tones, settings and worldviews vary, but we may have to officially retire our notions about comedy that “punches up” or “punches down.” These shows find a ton of fruitful dramatic and comedic potential in every direction. The artfully handled, unpredictable collisions are so often what make these shows outstanding.


+ Here are some names associated with a short film about a fashion line? I think? Carrie Brownstein (director), Natasha Lyonne (model/actor), Rowan Blanchard (model/actor). AdWeek says it’s a “brilliantly creepy short film about internet fandom.” So, commercial?

Queer Folks, Out and About

+ El Sanchez made Yahoo!’s list of 4 Latinx comedians you should know, and if you’ve ever seen them at A-Camp, you’ll totally agree Yahoo!’s summary of their stand-up:

I recently saw Sanchez perform at The Bell House and it was the first time I didn’t want an opening act to leave the stage. (sorry, Hari) I’m pretty sure everyone else agreed with me because Kondabolu threatened to fire Sanchez when he noticed how much the audience loved them.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I’m at least glad to know that Mel and She are leaving together. I would hate to watch if one left and they tried to replace the other with someone else.

    I have to say though, one of the few things that makes this better is the creation of the hashtag #breadxit.

    • People here in the UK are FREAKING out right now, and understandably so. We all thought “oh, GBBO is finally back on, we can take a break from the shitshow of the past few months, reconciliation with people who voted for/against Brexit and watch people baking bread together.”


      • Keep Calm and Carry On Baking people. Nothing is going to happen until Mary invokes Arctic roll 50!*

        *not my joke, but I have been giggling about it all day.

    • I spent the last thirty seconds trying to say ‘breadxit’ out loud – I don’t think it can be done

  2. I am beyond excited for the Wrinkle In Time adaptation. Beyond excited. I’m 35 and I still reread that series every year. I might reread it again right now.

  3. Omg, Witherspoon, Kaling, and Oprah are everything I ever imagined the Mrses to be. I am so excited. And cute lil Storm is so much better a Meg than that one girl that was cast in that one adaption. I am soooooo excited.

  4. Also, Jen Richards’ celebrity crush is Anthony Bourdain? That’s like awesome². I may totally geek out. If they did a show together, I might collapse from the cool.

  5. I was ready to finally walk away from Nashville…after suffering through a season of Maddie being the worst TV child since Julie Taylor and the BS ending for Avery and Juliette in the season finale. And then, when after the move to CMT, they announced that Connie Britton–who was the whole reason I started watching this show in the first place–was cutting back her appearances on the show…I was like, “cool, I can finally be done with this show.”

    Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

    First, they go and cast Rhiannon Giddens who is perfection on a platter in my book…and now they’ve added Jen Richards.

    I guess I’ll be tuning in after all.

  6. Oh my gosh people over here cannot deal with the GBBO news, it’s total hysteria. I understand (I love Sue Perkins like a LOT) but honestly Mel stresses me out with all her hovering and unhelpful suggestions like ‘Oooh, you ARE running out of time aren’t you?’ Mel! Leave them alone!

    Disclaimer: I’ve just moved to London and therefore have only recently been inducted into the cultural phenomenon that is GBBO. We all watch it together every Wednesday and my flatmate literally bakes whatever the thing is that’s featuring that week for us to eat while we watch. Biscuit week was GREAT.

  7. Love Carrie Brownstein. I really enjoyed The Realest Real. Thank you Heather for posting it.
    Be careful what you wish for…

  8. I’m a Canadian who only just started watching GBBO, but I’ve been binge-watching the episodes because I figured it was one of those things that would only end after like 15 seasons when they literally ran out of bakers to compete. Guess I should start rationing – there’s no point in watching once Mel & Sue (and their baking puns) are gone. Alas.

  9. Heather, off topic but is there still a chance you will finish recapping PLL or are you done with it? I’m just dying to have the summer finale recapped HH style and have an autostraddle discussion about it..

  10. AfterEllen is having some kind of hard-on with “Below Her Mouth”, but I have some trust issues with that place (too many disappointments can do that to you), so maybe I can ask here? Any opinions? The only thing I know for sure is that this movie has an all-female crew, which is a very big deal for me.


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