Stella Maxwell
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Tangerine's Trans Stars Make History With Spirit Award Nods

Tangerine

Film Independent's Spirit Awards may have just made film history.

The awards ceremony, which honors independent films, has nominated transgender actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor from the critical darling Tangerine. The film was also nominated for Best Director and Best Feature for a total of four nominations.

Rodriguez will be competing in the Best Female Lead category, alongside Cate Blanchett (Carol), Rooney Mara (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), and Bel Powley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager).

Taylor, nominated for Best Supporting Female, is up against Cynthia Nixon (James White), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa), Marin Ireland (Glass Chin), and Robin Bartlett (H.).

This is 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. 

Tangerine is not the only LGBT-themed film to receive recognition from the Spirit Awards. Carol, which stars Blanchett and Mara as women in love in 1950s New York, received six nominations, tying Beasts of No Nation for the most nods. In addition to its leads, Carol, which was adapted from the classic novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, was also nominated for Best Feature, Best Director (Todd Haynes), Best Screenplay (Phyllis Hagy), and Best Cinematography.

See a full list of nominees here.

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