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WATCH: Trans Actress Trace Lysette Returns In Exclusive Preview of Blunt Talk

WATCH: Trans Actress Trace Lysette Returns In Exclusive Preview of Blunt Talk

 Trace Lysette

In a nuanced depiction, trans actress Trace Lysette’s character of Gisele returns for episode 5 of STARZ’ new sitcom Blunt Talk.


When The Advocate last caught up with New York-based trans actress Trace Lysette, she was living out her acting dreams playing Shea, a sassy yoga instructor on the first season of Amazon Studios' breakout trans-themed comedy-drama Transparent. Now Lysette returns as Gisele, a smart, resilient trans prostitute who captures the heart of a tortured, slipshod British newscaster named Walter Blunt (played by Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame) in the fifth episode of the new Starz original sitcom Blunt Talk.

In the debut episode of Blunt Talk that aired on August 15, Stewart's hard-drinking character must save his eponymous cable news show, "Blunt Talk," from threatened cancellation after propositioning Gisele, played by Lisette, in a drunk-driving sex-scapade that is surreptitiously filmed by a paparazzi crew cheekily called ZMT. The entire fiasco lands both Blunt and Gisele in jail, but both are mercifully bailed out and left unharmed. Throughout his downward career spiral, Blunt finds a spark of hope in Gisele who turns out to be far more empathetic and enterprising than a one-time trick.

In The Advocate's exclusive sneak peek of this Saturday's episode of Blunt Talk called "The Queen of Hearts" (launching at 9 PM EDT on Starz), Gisele comes back into Blunt's life and they sit down over drinks to ruminate on how far they have both come in the rip and roar of risky romance and cutthroat show business.

Reached by phone on September 17, Lysette remarked that the return of Gisele's character on Blunt Talk marks a winsome step in the development of nuanced characterizations of trans people on TV. Gisele became more than a stereotype of trans prostitution. In Saturday's episode called "The Queen of Hearts," Gisele tells Blunt that she is getting out of "the life" of sex work and finally working through the challenges of a burgeoning romance with a mysterious man.

Lysette credits Blunt Talk's writer, Jonathan Ames, with enriching the persona of Gisele, saying that Ames allowed her character to be "more three dimensional by having that story arc come back after she's freed from prison so we explore her dreams."

Of the choices that informed her artistry when she played Gisele in the scenes with Stewart, Lysette explained over the phone that, "Acting to me is really about truth, and truth is formed from life experience. I used a lot of personal experience of finding love and losing love and discovering my self worth."

Lysette also lauded the sensitivity of Stewart, Ames, and the episode's director Bill D'Elia on the set, noting that Stewart was "reassuring, kind, gentle, gracious to me" and Ames is a "real trans-ally." Indeed, Ames is the editor of a 2005 book called Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs, which Lysette said more than vouches for his empathy for trans experiences.

Lysette noted over the phone that Starz is "riding a wave of cutting edge, very wise, very smart" programming that "pushes the envelope" of contemporary storytelling.

"The top thing that audiences will relate to when they tune in is the constant evolution of life, the way we have to readjust and realign to take on the hurdles that life throws at us, the ebb and flow to find peace," Lysette emphasized.

Lysette also stressed that there is a direct relationship between the betterment of trans lives and their three dimensional depiction in arts and entertainment: "The further we get into the human experience of trans characters, the more respect and safety we will experience in real life off screen."

Watch the exclusive sneak peak clip below.

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Cleis Abeni

Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.
Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.