Watch 4 trans actors audition for Scarlett Johansson's past roles. They make an important point.

You've probably heard that Scarlett Johansson is slated to portray a transgender man in an upcoming movie.

The movie in question is "Rub & Tug." It's based on the life of Dante "Tex" Gill, who operated a massage parlor and a prostitution ring in Pittsburgh around the 1970s and 1980s, and it's believed that he identified as a transgender man.

To the transgender community, this casting decision is insulting. Transgender actors in Hollywood rarely get the chance to play a cisgender character. But cisgender actors — like Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, and Matt Bomer — have often taken up the few transgender character roles out there.


It came as no surprise that Johansson, a cisgender woman, would receive backlash for taking the role of a transgender man.

To further illustrate the problem, a group of trans actors responded with a hilariously clever video.

Into, a digital magazine operated by Grindr, released a video featuring four trans actors auditioning for Johansson's roles in past movies. The actors — Justin Chow, Scott Turner Schofield, D'Lo, and Rocco Kayiatos — read lines from Samantha in "Her," Charlotte in "Lost in Translation," Natasha Romanoff in "The Avengers," and Anna in "He's Just Not That Into You."

The video hit the nail on the head at the end. When Schofield ended up earning the role of Samantha in "Her," he rejected the casting offer.

His reason? He knew that cisgender women are marginalized in Hollywood and didn't want to take their voice away from them.

"Sorry, I’m just having trouble because cis women are actually really marginalized in Hollywood,” Schofield says in the video. “I mean, I know that there are people who have lived this experience and would bring a lot of authenticity to it, and I feel a little weird taking that from them.”

Although the video is short and tongue-in-cheek, their message still stands strong.

Transgender people are a marginalized community. They are often persecuted for their gender identities, but seldom have the opportunities to share their own stories on a prominent platform.

Fortunately, some great strides have been made for transgender representation in Hollywood. Transgender rights activist Janet Mock made history in July 2018 for becoming the first trans woman of color to write and direct a television episode for the FX show "Pose." Laverne Cox was nominated twice for the Emmys in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series category. Chaz Bono, the only child of Cher and Sonny Bono, has taken on television roles on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "American Horror Story."

It should go without saying that they are just a select few out of a handful of talented transgender actors in Hollywood.

Perhaps it's time for Hollywood to take notice of them.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

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Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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