The four-part docuseries Always Jane follows the two-year journey of trans teen Jane Noury through her final year of high school, across the country to Los Angeles for a modeling contest, back home to New Jersey for the pandemic shutdown, and as she heads into her future of college and a confirmation surgery. It can be seen as a visual diary of a woman going through a time of massive change in her life, a portrait of a unique (and incredibly charming family), a learning opportunity about the complexity of one person's trans experience, or as a primer for parents and family members on how to support their trans loved one. And yes, it's all of these things -- but, most of all, it's a love story.
That story centers on Noury loving herself enough to do what she needed to be happy, even when it was incredibly difficult, and the love of her family who was going through a kind of transition alongside her. Watching it all unfold is a much-needed salve for the heart and a beacon of hope in a year that has proven to be especially painful and deadly for trans people. It's not just a story of resilience against adversity, but of compassion as well, and it will tug at your heartstrings. And it all started with a modeling contest.
"All I can say is it really wasn't a planned thing," Noury recalls when asked by The Advocate how the show came about. She had expressed an interest in modeling and her mother Laura encouraged her to follow her dream and begin submitting to agencies. Slay Model Management in Los Angeles contacted her back, inviting her to participate in a model search competition. "They were having this big, global transgender competition to sign with the agency," Noury explains. "We all met in New York City to have brunch and do an interview and a photo shoot. That's how I met my director, Jonathan Hyde." After meeting with Noury and her mother, Laura, Hyde was struck by how supportive Noury's whole family was of her transition. "So he gave me some small Handycam recorders to record myself from December up into the competition in February to get more content for the show that he was going to start making," she shares. "And then I kind of just turned into something more over time."
The series is such a vulnerable and intimate view into your life and it started as focused on the model search, what made you want to share more of your life?
I really just was having fun with it. You know, I was filming myself at a time where I was in my senior year of high school and I was starting my modeling career. It was great. I was going to start graduating high school, deciding about college, and then COVID happened and I was also having my confirmation surgery, so I kind of just wanted to document it and not because I wanted to make a show out of it, but just because I wanted to have the memories to look back on, because, you know, you only have all these experiences once in your life.
Was it challenging to get your whole family to sign on to opening up and sharing their life this way?
We really didn't have a huge conversation about "oh, like, are you comfortable with sharing our whole lives with the world," it was just me recording and just having fun with it. And then we sat down and had serious conversations, whether this is something we wanted to do. I kind of just felt like it was just something I had to do, regardless of the backlash that I may get, or people not accepting it or people hating our story.
My parents, basically, at the end of the day, were just like, "if this is something you want to do, we will hold your hand through it, and we will support you through and through, we will do this as a family. And we'll make it happen."
And hopefully we'll help someone if we can...regardless if they're trans, or if they're maybe not educated enough on the topic, or maybe they're just curious, you know, if it helps improve someone's life in some way, shape, or form. But in my eyes, it would have been worth it, putting everything out on the table that I've been through.
You mentioned backlash. Is that something you're concerned about or are preparing for?
I can't control how people are gonna think about it, even if I want to. Of course I want everyone to love our show. We're very proud of it. I'm proud of it. My family's proud of it, everyone who worked on it is proud of it. And we did the best we could with telling our story, and we're also not preaching. People have every right to feel whatever they want to feel about us. It's not something we have control over.
What do you hope audiences will take away from your story?
I hope generally they laugh with us, they cry with us, and they enjoy the show. I hope people learn something or they realize something that they never have before.
As for my trans community, I hope they feel represented. I hope they feel loved. I hope they feel heard. If someone doesn't even know they're trans yet, or someone who's contemplating how their life is going, or if they're thinking about it, I hope it teaches them something, like to really fight for yourself and just to love yourself. You're going to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so you might as well be happy, so just be confident and not care about what other people think. And also surround yourself with people who love and accept you and who are there for you. Just to be patient with not only yourself but with the people around you who are also going to be transitioning with you if you are trans.
Do you have plans for the premiere day?
I'm spending the day with my aunt who lives in the city with me. And we're going to just order some food and watch, and I think one of my friends is coming over too. Then over the weekend, I'm going back home to Jersey to spend time with my family. We're just gonna have a big viewing party, honestly. And on the weekend, when we're all together, we're just gonna hang out and probably watch it and just catch up.
Always Jane premieres Friday on Prime Video.