When she first appeared on Netflix’s “Glamorous“Miss Benny knew she had found a unique project that would showcase her wide range of talents as an artist.
Still, the Texas-born actress and singer — who re-introduced herself publicly as a transgender woman last week – feared she might not be able to play the role of Marco Mejia on the series given the character was originally written as a gender non-conforming gay man.
Shortly after her transition, Miss Benny met with the series creator and showrunner Jordon Nardino to share their concerns. She expected to be fired from the role before filming began on the show’s ten episodes. But as she explained in an essay For Time magazine, she was pleasantly surprised when Nardino agreed to reimagine Marco as a young transsexual on a journey to self-acceptance.
“I remember thinking I’d be such a big fan of it even if I wasn’t in it, so I had to at least try because I’d never read a script that expressed someone like me so fully . “Miss Benny told HuffPost in an interview. “We’ve been treated to amazing, raunchy, raunchy queer characters over the years who get the funny one-liners and add color to the stories we see. But we rarely get to see these people go home, take their makeup off and see the struggles they’re going through.”
“It felt unique to see someone like Marco the center of such adoration and to be seen as absolutely precious,” she added. “It was very healing and important for me, and I hope it does the same for other people.”
Even without this update, Glamorous would still be one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive shows on mainstream television. The coming-of-age comedy, which premiered June 22, follows Marco, an aspiring makeup artist and social media influencer who lands a job with Madolyn Addison (Kim Cattrall), the founder of a global beauty empire.
“Glamorous” is pleasantly addictive and borrows, as the premise suggests, elements of “The devil Wears Prada” And “Ugly Betty.” There are also a number of clever references to Cattrall’s portrayal of Samantha Jones in Sex and the City. At Cattrall’s request, longtime “SATC” costume designer Patricia Field took over joined The show’s creative team acted as the actor’s personal stylist.
But unlike its film and television predecessors, “Glamorous” is set in a world populated by queer and gender-nonconforming characters – portrayed by an ensemble cast that includes Graham ParkhurstJade Payton, Zane Phillips and Michael Hsu Rosen — hold positions of authority and vastly outnumber their straight counterparts.
Ms. Benny said Nardino was adamant that these characters not experience any anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment or behavior from outsiders. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t face adversity or internalized homophobia from other members of the queer community.
Phillips, for example, plays Madolyn’s handsome adult son, Chad, who sees Marco as a professional rival and more than once tries to thwart his new colleague’s successes at the office.
Luckily for Marco, the character becomes Madolyn’s protégé and, despite some early setbacks, remains unwaveringly supportive throughout the series. Like her character, Miss Benny still resents the “trippy” experience of working with Cattrall, describing it as a professional dream come true.
“Looking at the show now, I can’t believe we’re all in the same picture because her portrayal of Samantha was a huge influence on my own comedic personality,” she explained. “I think people who love Samantha will be very happy with her portrayal of Madolyn. There are some amazing one-liners I’ve been waiting for months.”
Miss Benny shares more similarities with Marco as she rose to fame on YouTube before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Prior to Glamorous, she channeled her viral fame in a few supporting roles on shows like Fuller House and Love, Victor.
As a musician, she has also released a string of pop singles and released a six-song EP last month: “braising.”
“Before, I’d only released music about parties and kissing boys,” she said. “This EP is about what happens after the party is over and after you kiss the boys. You’ve been heartbroken and you have feelings of sadness, anger and resentment, and you’re processing that in real time.”
Miss Benny considers Swelter a musical complement to Glamorous, as both projects treat queerness as a “superpower” rather than a source of embarrassment or shame. While she’s still awaiting word on whether Glamorous will be renewed for a second season, she expects her future projects to keep that intention.
“It’s a scary time to be queer, trans, politically and socially,” she said. “For years, I always got the feedback that it wasn’t time for someone like me. But my weirdness has always felt like a superpower. I’ve always felt like I don’t have to deal with being queer; That’s something I get to experience. I feel like this moment in my life is the starting point for all the things I want to do.”
Watch the trailer for Glamorous below.