As a gay man, I know what it's like to feel different. While I always knew I was a man, there are a lot of people out there who feel they were born the wrong gender. The first transgender person I met was in Boston. It was at the time I was getting ready to come out to my parents, so I called the Boston Gay and Lesbian Center to get some advice on coming out. I spoke with Sterling in November/December of 1997 and by the time I came out a few weeks later, I had called Sterling back to let him know I did it. Well, by then, Sterling had become a woman. It would still be about 6 months before I got to meet Sterling in person. It was at Boston's Youth Pride Parade that I heard Sterling's moving story and got to meet her myself. It was so nice to meet her.
More recently, it's Shakina Nayfack story, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Factory, that has inspired me! I met Shakina around the time she was raising money for her gender re-assignment surgery and starting Musical Theatre Factory. A year later, Shakina is the woman she always knew she was meant to be.
Now, two years after meeting Shakina, I get the chance to interview Scott Turner Schofield, the first openly transgender actor on Daytime Television. He is appearing in the recurring role of "Nick" on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful. The first daytime soap opera I really got into was ABC's All My Children because they were developing the storyline of "Erica Kane's" (Susan Lucci) daughter, "Bianca" (Eden Riegel), coming out as a lesbian in 2001. It was then I really learned how timely Soap Operas have always been.
It's a real honor to speak with Scott about paving a new path for transgender actors, starring on The Bold and the Beautiful, what he looks for in a date, how he improves his life by 1% everyday, as well as his coming out story.
You are making television history right now by being the first openly transgender actor on daytime television, and the first female-to-male person in a major recurring role on broadcast TV as "Nick" on CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful. Not only are you making television history with this role, you are also making your television debut. What was it like to have this job be so many firsts for you? Did you feel any added pressure to being successful in this role? It's a real breakthrough in every sense. I have been working internationally as a trans performing artist since 2002. I've won awards, I've sold out the National Theaters of two European countries with my one person shows, I've acted on a Main Stage at Avignon. This is a long time and a lot of work in the making. To finally break through and land in my dreams just feels like...finally! But no, I don't feel any extra pressure. I am well prepared, and being the first, you can kind of make of it what you want.
2. What's it like to be a trailblazer? What are some of the comments you've heard from fans? Have you suffered any backlash from being out? #RealTalk - being a trailblazer sucks! You work so hard to make small gains, and then people who have had it easier because of you can waltz in, and by that time, nobody knows your name anymore. I think every day of Candis Cayne and Alexandra Billings and Kate Bornstein. I am only here because of their patience and fortitude and willingness to put themselves on the map in theatre and TV. I thank them every day in my heart, and I hope some day I get to make my own show with an ensemble cast of everyone who's really earned it.
As for backlash, I don't read the comments, so no transmen get harmed in the making of a success story.
3. How are you most like "Nick" and how are you different from him? My friends say that watching me on The Bold & The Beautiful is as if I walked off the street into the studio! But the reality is, "Nick" is in that world - this world of drama and deceit. So if I'm like, "Nick," I'm who I would be if I were in that world. Which is very, very different from the world I actually inhabit! All to say, like "Nick" in heart, but not in action.
4. What was it like to go from theatrical acting to television acting? I just had to learn about camera angles. There are certain ways you move and turn that help the camera, which we don't do naturally or in theatre. Other than that, it's a set with a small audience (of PAs, wardrobe, script, etc) - so it's just like theatre!
5. Since you are on The Bold and the Beautiful, what moment in your life do you feel you were most bold and when have you felt the most beautiful? I love this question. Nobody ever asks it, either, which is hard to believe but true! I currently feel the most bold every day I work in Hollywood, trying to make a space for myself on TV and in film. Like, I know I have an excellent, deep résumé, but I have to convince people I am a real person - much less a real actor. It's never been harder anywhere than in Hollywood, and I am from the South, honey!
But on the flip side, every time I step on a red carpet and know that what people will see is an out, transgender man, live from whatever awards show - I think about what it would have been like for me to see that when I was a young person. And I feel beautiful in a way that is much bigger than me. This is what I'm here for. #TransIsBeautiful.
6. I was watching the video interview between you and your mom, which was beautiful. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. When did you realize you were born the opposite gender of what you felt was true for you? How did you approach this with your family? What was their reaction? How has your relationship grown since transitioning and what do you hope still changes that hasn't yet? Can I first just love my mom so much for a second? She hates to do press, hates being in the public eye. But you wouldn't believe how she helps parents with trans kids, one cup of tea at a time. If I'm brave, she's why.
To your question: I have a very common story of knowing from the time I was conscious of myself that there was a disconnect in the way I felt versus how people saw me. (It's not that way for everyone). My family did the best they could, but unfortunately all the knowledge they had at the time was to say "You're not a boy, you're a pretty little girl." They made compromises - I could wear "boy clothes" if they were pink! Everyone was uncomfortable, but nobody knew how to address it.
Eventually I was able to say, look, this isn't a phase. By then I had learned that transgender people - women and men - have been in every culture, across all time, around the world. And when I took it to my family, they were as accepting as they could be without having any example for how to be. They just loved me, they did what I asked them to do - simple. It was weird, but we got through it by loving the person and not thinking about the label. And now, they've basically forgotten I was ever a girl. I am definitely "the black sheep," but I am loved. Admired, even. I really couldn't ask for more, and I so wish that every transperson could have the same. It's just loving the person - why is that so hard for people?
7. On "Call Me Adam," I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent everyday? I love this!!! I actually implement it frequently. Lately I've been working on meditation. Can I meditate for even one minute on days when I just want to skip it? If I do one minute, it usually leads to 10 or more. It's a great trick. 1% more meditation!
8. What is something about your story that you can tell us that you haven't told another interviewer? When I came out to my family - there are 17 of us, at the time ages 7-65 - and we were eating a big spaghetti dinner all together on this long table. My aunt knew, and I was scared to bring it up, so she goes: "Do you have something to tell us?" So I did, and I asked them to call me Turner, after my Great Grandfather. One of the 7 year olds pipes up and says, "Turner? Like Timmy Turner?" From that cartoon, you know? And it broke all the tension and showed everybody what not-a-big deal it is. I mean, if a kid's only question about transitioning from female to male is whether you named yourself after a cartoon....So now my name at home is Timmy. Not Scott or Turner or my old name either. Hey, I'll take it.
10. In dating, what would it take to win your heart? What would be your ideal first date and ideal 5th date? Wow, another awesome question nobody has ever asked. Thank you!
My heart is simple: I just want to be loved. Adored, even, a little. Love my faults and mistakes as part of what makes me lovable. Don't try to fix me or make me into something you want. Love me, and you get me.
Ideal first date: something chill. We're just getting to know each other. Coffee. A walk. Game night with mutual friends.
Ideal 5th date: Is this a euphemism? I'm a slow burn, I want to really know a person before getting all mixed up in their cocktail. So it depends how much we've shared of ourselves, and how good it feels. Could be a movie, could be a weekend away. The more you give, the more you get, with me.
Thanks so much again for this opportunity! Best of luck with all your great work. ~ Scott
Scott Turner Schofield (SKO-feeld) is an award winning actor and diversity speaker. His purpose in life is to inspire Hollywood, your school, your job, and your family to embrace transgender people.
After 12+ years as an internationally-acclaimed theatre artist, Scott became the first openly transgender actor on daytime television, and the first female-to-male person in a major recurring role on broadcast TV as "Nick" on CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful. Poised to follow the trajectory of former soap stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Alec Baldwin, and Brad Pitt, Scott hopes to transition to the silver screen as film's first leading (trans)man.
One of his generation's trailblazers in the movement for transgender liberation, since 2002 Scott has used a successful mix of storytelling and advocacy to change policies at educational institutions, corporations, and spiritual centers. Using his gift for building bridges in traditional and conservative communities, he continues to take action in the movement toward full civil rights and social acceptance as a consultant, coach and spokesperson.