Tangerine star Mya Taylor made history last night at the Spirit Awards, becoming the first transgender actress to win a major film award.
Taylor won Best Supporting Female at Saturday’s award ceremony in Los Angeles, beating Cynthia Nixon (James White), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa), Marin Ireland (Glass Chin) and Robin Bartlett (H.).
During her acceptance speech Taylor said: “I have had a long journey through my 2015, because I had come from almost nothing. And then I got this role and this movie, and my life did a total 360.”
Directed and written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch, it was shot entirely using an iPhone. Tangerine was one of 2015’s breakout indies. The film stars Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as a pair of friends who trek through Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to find Rodriguez’s unfaithful boyfriend.
Speaking to the assembled crowed of film-makers, she added: “There is transgender talent. There’s very beautiful transgender talent. So you better get out there and put it in your next movie.”
Taylor told the press backstage that she applied for 186 jobs and went on 26 interviews over two years in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t get a job because my name and gender weren’t changed on my employment application. When this opportunity came ( with Tangerine ), it was like it was given by God and it made up for all the struggles I went through.”
The actress was praised on social media for her comments, including by Laverne Cox. “I am still teary after watching @TheMyaTaylor’s acceptance speech at the #SpiritAwards,” Cox wrote on Twitter. “As a proud, black trans woman, actress I am so proud.”
Watch her acceptance speech here: