Transgender Actress Shakina Nayfack Joins Cast of Difficult People
Difficult People, Hulu’s hit comedy series co-executive produced by Amy Poehler, will be moving the needle forward for LGBT visibility when the show returns for its second season.
The Advocate has learned exclusively that transgender actress and social activist Shakina Nayfack will be joining the cast as Lola, a new character who was created to brilliantly clash with out actor Billy Eichner’s character, Billy Epstein.
"Shakina is an accomplished performance artist and an incredibly impressive theater producer, performer, writer and director,” says Difficult People creator and star Julie Klausner. “We connected to her raw sense of humor, her tenacity, her eagerness to use comedy to tackle social injustice, and, of course, her love of the show already! We were impressed right away by Shakina’s academic pedigree, her combination of irreverence and emotional warmth, her sense of adventure, and her kindness.”
Klausner also says she knew Nayfack was perfect for the part moments after meeting her, and she and worked with the actress to further define the character. “Shakina is responsible for some of Lola's funniest and most outrageous lines. We are so lucky to have her,” she says.
Lola will be a new waitress at Epstein’s place of employment, D’s Café, and has several controversial opinions — such as 9/11 being an inside job. In Lola’s debut episode, Epstein struggles with fears of being labeled transphobic on social media by rebutting some of Lola’s more “out there” opinions, but before long Lola’s voice becomes another welcome sound in the symphony of resentment that fuels the working lives of the employees of D’s Café.
"In the quest for transgender visibility we've only been introduced to sympathetic roles that rely on victimization or stereotypes in order to elicit empathy from our audiences,” Nayfack says. “I am thrilled that Julie Klausner and Hulu have created the character of Lola. It is so refreshing to be able to play a trans woman who is funny, confrontational, and just as difficult as everyone else on the show. You’re gonna love Lola because she’s strong and opinionated and crass, not because she's getting bashed, locked up, or wrestling with coming out."
Difficult People season 2 begins later this year. Season 1 is available now on Hulu.