Pitch Perfect

At her Los Angeles audition for Making the Band, transgender contestant Jaila Simms wowed Sean "Diddy" Combs with her soulful voice -- even if he did notice that her range ran a bit lower than expected.



Was your family supportive of your "coming out" as transgender?I feel like, with all the things I've gone through, my family has definitely been there for me and what's really important in our family is love. People can judge you -- society, even your friends on some occasions. But your family will always be bound by love. Growing up as a child and knowing that I might be more comfortable living my life another way, um, is definitely rough. But if you do have that kind of love in your life, you understand that they're going to love you no matter what.

So they didn't force you into therapy?This is the whole thing, and I'm gonna keep it all-the-way real. I come from a black family that was born and raised in the church, so we're deeply rooted in religion and in "doctrine," but at the same time, there has to be a balance. My family, for instance, may not have always accepted me and may not have always liked my actions, even so far as my putting popcorn in the microwave instead of on the stove. But at the end of the day, we know that our love for each other supersedes that. If more people take that into consideration, you'll have a lot less therapy patients.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about transgender people?A lot of people look at transgender women as people who are overly sexual, especially in the LGBT community. I think people don't understand that we're just trying to have our outsides match our insides. It's more than about sex. On a spiritual level, some people think their soul is caught in the wrong body. They're just not able to be themselves. And I want society to know that it's not based upon sex or image or wanting to be beautiful. It's about wanting to be who you truly are.

How would you define your sexuality?I'm a heterosexual woman [ laughs ]! At least that's what I think in my own head. Now, what the boys think may be something totally different, but that's how I feel.

In addition to singing, you also model and act?I model as a full-figured model, yes, and I'm a trained actress. I went to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and studied musical theater, so I'm working on some endeavors in that light, but right now I'm just so focused on, you know, enjoying this ride.

Any plans to move to Hollywood?If somebody called me and said, "Hey, girl, we want you to come to Hollywood," then I'm on my way! Tonight's the premiere of the show, so I'm just gonna enjoy being at home with my boyfriend and my family and taking it all in. I'm hoping that, with a lot of the things I have in mind and some of the endeavors I want to pursue, that I'm gonna be away from home for quite some time. I'm trying to enjoy the time I have here [in Chicago] for now.

If you could give Sean Combs yet another new name, what would it be?Big Daddy Diddy [ laughs ]! He's such a father figure -- you see him playing with his children and the way he speaks to everyone else. He takes that paternal role in any situation. Yeah, he's Big Daddy Diddy to me.

Tags: television