Mya Taylor just made history, becoming the first trans actress to win an Independent Spirit Award, for her role as trans sex worker Alexandra in the critical darling dramedy, Tangerine.
Taylor won Best Supporting Female at Saturday’s award ceremony in Los Angeles, besting Cynthia Nixon (James White), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa), Marin Ireland (Glass Chin) and Robin Bartlett (H.).
When she took the stage to accept her award, Taylor’s characteristic wit and charm were on full display:
"First of all, no one tells you how nervous you're gonna be when you're up against other big actors for an award. There are so many things that go through your head, like 'Am I gonna trip on this long-ass dress getting up here?' I have had a long journey through my 2015 because I had come from almost nothing and then got this role and this movie, and my life just did a total 360."
The awards ceremony, which honors independent films, also nominated Taylor's Tangerine co-star, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, while the film garnered four nominations in all, including a nod for Best Director and Best Feature. Both women were also honored in The Advocate's annual 40 Under 40 list last year.
This year's ceremony marks the first time the Spirit Awards have nominated trans women in both of these acting categories in the same year. Previously, Harmony Santana became the first out trans female nominee in 2012, garnering recognition in the Best Supporting Female category for Gun Hill Road.
In the entertainment industry, the Spirit Awards are seen as a key bellwether for Oscar nominations and wins. In the past decade, most of the Best Female Lead winners, among them Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, and Melissa Leo, have gone on to win Academy Awards for their Spirit-nominated roles.
Directed and written by Sean S. Baker and Chris Bergoch, Tangerine follows a day in the life of two trans sex workers in Los Angeles. Its stars, Taylor and Rodriguez, first met Baker and Bergoch at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The film was shot entirely with iPhone 5s smartphones. The film is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix.
Watch Taylor's acceptance speech below, via the Hollywood Reporter. (Click on the four corners icon at the right of the screen to enlarge.)