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Trans Media Arts: Julie Rei Goldstein Interview

| Oct 12, 2015
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Julie Rei Goldstein

It has been a year of many firsts for LGBT people. Caitlyn Jenner, gay marriage, and now an upcoming animated Web series is about to make television history. Gen Zed is poised to be the first animated series to feature a transgender actress Julie Rei Goldstein, in the lead role.

The show will have a little something for everyone, as it brings together four online gamers in Real World-style (first popular reality series that aired on MTV), complete with punchy humor that millennials and the 20-something in all of us will appreciate. Julie’s character, Shona is expected to steal viewers’ hearts with her down-to-earth approach to the crazy world around her and her outrageous roommates.

The show is in post-production right now and is going to debut this fall. I caught up with Ms. Goldstein recently to ask her what she thought of being the first trans leading actress in an animated series, how she deals with being trans in this sometimes difficult world, and how she got involved with acting and her other interests.

TGF: Hello Julie! Welcome to TGForum! How is life treating you lately? Looks like some good things are happening for you.

JRG: Whenever I’m busy, things are awesome!

TGF: I have to ask the burning question. How does it feel to be the first leading actress in an animated series? Do you get to wear a tiara and a sash for that?

JRG: I was wearing those long before I was working on Gen Zed!

TGF: Hayden Black, the man who is bringing us this important show said that when you read for the part, you came in and “blew everyone’s socks off.” That is a nice thing to hear I bet. He goes on to say, “Her character, Shona, is a very strong part of the series, and because the show isn’t just comedy, we needed someone with heart too. She really knows when to hit the gas and the brakes. She’s an unbelievable actress, and I hope this ignites her career.” Sounds like he found his girl. That ringing endorsement has to feel great right?

JRG: It feels amazing to have your work recognized. As artists so often we work without feedback. Even while we were recording, I always felt a tinge of pride when my reads made our editor Paul crack up. He spent years working with greats like Billy West and John DiMaggio on Futurama, so I knew I’d hit a high bar.

TGF: Tell us about Shona. I saw the promo, and I like her already. That promo still with her sitting on the bed in her room with the trans heroes around her actually hits home for me. Is there a lot of you in her?

JRG: She’s 19, a stand up comedienne and blogger. There’s a lot of her sense of humor that comes directly from me. I think there’s something amazing about Trans people taking agency over their experiences through comedy. For Shona it really is about facing the shit she deals with on a daily basis and processing it through comedy rather than wallow in it.

TGF: What do you hope this series contributes to the understanding of trans people and how they are really just like everyone else, with dreams, desires and problems like everyone else?

JRG: My biggest hope is that people learn Trans people can be funny without being made fun of. So much of comedy in media involving Trans people in the past has been about making fun of us for simply existing. We’re looking to show we can create our own brand of humor without needing to be ridiculed.

Gen Zed
TGF: I read that the show is currently in post-production, when are we going to be able to see this much-anticipated show?

JRG: It looks like our pilot episode will drop in November/December. Distribution is still up in the air since one of the Futurama producers wants to take the show to TV.

TGF: Hayden Black also spoke of having a number of trans people helping on the production of the show. This could be the beginning of an explosion of talented trans folks in the industry. It must feel great knowing that this show will not only entertain, but be an important stepping stone for trans people.

JRG: That’s always been a central focus of what Hayden’s been trying to accomplish. I’ve always been vocal about how Trans representation in media is meaningless unless Trans people are central to the production. In this case, even though  Hayden may be Cis, he’s surrounded himself with many Trans people and made sure we all have absolute creative control over how we’re represented in Gen Zed.

TGF: I know you are no stranger to performing. I see you have done voice-over work, stage work and film and now television. I have a feeling you have been entertaining for most of your life, being such a natural. How did you get started?

JRG: I actually didn’t start until I was in college. I’d been interested in anime for a while and was working at local conventions and through there started meeting voice actors and thanks to them I decided to start taking acting classes, doing theater; and ultimately after graduating moved to LA and started working.

TGF: It looks like you are a big fan of horror, sci-fi, all things Comic-con and Disney, among many others. I see that you worked at Disney for a while and seem to love it. What drew you to these fantasy, escapism type things?

JRG: I think it’s the idea that our lives are only as limited are our imaginations are. I’ve always felt growing up is extremely overrated. That’s something I’ve always tried to infuse into my work. It’s not just about entertaining, but providing a sandbox for people to feel they’re safe playing in.

TGF: I see that you were born in Venezuela and spent time and have family in the San Francisco Bay Area. I just moved here to the Bay myself last year. Do you miss NoCal and the Bay Area living in LA now?

JRG: I miss how calm the Bay Area is. The pace there is so relaxing. So much of LA is centered on hustle and bustle, when for the most part I just want to enjoy the ride.

TGF: When did you first realize you were trans? I know performing and stage acting is a great outlet for budding trans people with all of the makeup and the playing of other genders. Was performing an expressive outlet for you?

JRG: I’ve never not known. The only thing that changed was how I dealt with it. I didn’t start performing until after I transitioned, so it was never an outlet for me to express my truth, rather it helped me find my true interests by allowing me to experiment without the shroud of dysphoria.

TGF: When did you decide to transition and what was the catalyst that aided your decision?

JRG: It was towards the end of high school. The internet was still pretty new and for the first time I actually was able to speak to other people who were Trans through it. The real catalyst for me was sadly a failed suicide attempt that made me realize I had to deal with it or else I wouldn’t survive.

TGF: Has transition helped you be a better version of you?

JRG: It’s helped me find my real interests. I think for a long time that shroud of dysphoria ruled my life. Once it was gone I finally was able to focus on what I truly enjoy in life.

TGF: Voice is extremely important for trans folks. Your voice is, of course, fabulous. I used to do voices all of the time growing up and also sang. Speech pathologists and voice coaches say that these activities help one to create a good trans voice. It definitely helped me. I feel I am doing my greatest voice now every day. But it’s not an impression, its me. Do you feel that doing voiceover work and performing helped you with your female voice?

JRG: To be honest, I feel like in my mind I’ve transcended the idea of male/female voice. So much of how I trained and what I recommend Trans folks do is learn to understand and control their full vocal range and through that figure out where their comfort and personality lies within it rather than feel they have to conform to specific standards to be accepted by society as who we are.

TGF: Did you have a good childhood? Did you experience bullying?

JRG: It’s rare to find a Trans person who didn’t experience bullying. The ironic part  is that a lot of what I experienced was for being perceived as “gay” (as in attracted to men) when I was extremely girl crazy even back then.

TGF: I see that you are engaged to be married. You are very lucky to have found someone who you can love. It can be extremely difficult to find someone to love as a transperson. How did you manage to find your lovely lady?

JRG: We met online and just hit it off from the get go. We’re both Disney geeks and our second date was spent at Disneyland. I remember looking at Jessica as we were watching the “World of Color” nighttime show and just knowing she was the one. I actually ended up proposing within Cinderella’s Castle during our first trip to Walt Disney World.

TGF: As a trans person, what is daily life like for you? Does dysphoria creep in? Do you get harassed for being trans? Have you experienced any discrimination in your work or life?

JRG: Dysphoria is always that birdie whispering in my ear on my shoulder. I think in California thankfully people realize being directly transphobic makes people recognize them as bigoted, but it’s hard not to think if a specific moment of rejection has anything to do with people perceiving you as Trans.

TGF: How do you feel about living in Los Angeles? Have you hobnobbed and schmoozed? Are people there as shallow and tedious as the rest of the country thinks that are?

JRG: There are people like that everywhere. I don’t think I’ve noticed a higher concentration of them in LA more-so than outside of the area. But then again, maybe it’s because people are better at feigning sincerity here. Who really knows?

TGF: What exciting projects can we expect to see from Ms. Julie Rei Goldstein in the near future? A film with Will Ferrell? (That sounds amazing), Voicing a new awesome character in Frozen II? (I’m obsessed with Frozen), Broadway?!!

JRG: I sure hope so! I’ve always felt comedy is my strong suit so hopefully through Gen Zed Hollywood will get the picture and start including Trans Women in the renaissance of female led comedies we’ve started to see over the last few years.

TGF: Its great to see a fellow trans person doing so well and living her dreams successfully. You are an inspiration to me and certainly to our readers. OK, time for some stupid questions.

JRG: I LOVE stupid questions!

TGF: What is the dumbest thing you ever did?

JRG: Back when Bat’s Day at Disneyland (Goth Day) was in August, I went in 6 inch heels and a catsuit. It was over 100 degrees. Yea…

TGF: Elsa or Tinkerbell?

JRG: Definitely Elsa. There’s too much of myself I see in her. Also, I’m absolutely certain she’s a lesbian. It makes too much sense.

TGF: Who would win in a fight between Thing and Hulk?

JRG: Hulk. Brains and Brawn all in one.

TGF: George Romero or Wes Craven?

JRG: Wes Craven, but that’s likely because I grew up in the ‘90s watching the Freddy films and I was obsessed with Scream. Zombie narratives kinda took a break during that time until 28 Days Later came along and began the zombie resurgence. I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead though. Both the TV show and the comics.

TGF: Coffee or tea?

JRG: Neither. Diet soda.

TGF: Are you a carnivore or Veggiesaur?

JRG: Carnivore. Just the thought of Stegosaurus meat… Mmmmmmm…

TGF: What are you feelings about nesting dolls or matryoshkas? Awesome or creepy?

JRG: Those are still a thing? Nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

TGF: Finally, If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

JRG: Bamboo, so I could hang out with pandas.

Thank You Julie, and best of luck in the coming year! You heard it from the horse’s mouth folks. Gen Zed could be heading for big things. I will be looking forward to the pilot premier in November or December. That’s a wrap everyone! Cut, print and moving on. See ya next month!


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Category: Media, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

amandaf111

About the Author ()

I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 5 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. But recently moved back to the East Coast. The adventure continues...

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