After two allegations of sexual harassment, actor Jeffrey Tambor recently quit Transparent, where he starred as matriarch Maura Pfefferman on the Amazon comedy-drama. Transparent plans to carry on, but why must it continue without a Maura?
While Transparent was critically lauded from the start, its original sin, so to speak, was casting a cisgender man, Tambor, to star as a transgender woman. Creator Jill Soloway can rectify that misfire by recasting Maura with a trans actress, of which there's no shortage of in Hollywood.
"I realize that it's likely, from rumors I am hearing, that Maura will be written out of the story," Ann Thomas, founder of Transgender Talent management, tells The Advocate. "Sometimes they can recast successfully, like they did with Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise."
Thomas realizes a new Maura would have to be chosen carefully, as she's ingrained in millions of viewers' minds.
"Most of the time, casting a lead role happens before a film or series is pitched, so it's done without casting directors," Thomas says. "Auditions are done directly with the creative staff, and as a manager, I have to read and really understand the script well, and characters well, in order to bring in people who really, really fit the role well."
Here are six women who Thomas feels are Maura-worthy. These actresses can be contacted via Thomas's agency. How about it, Jill?
"Gillian spent 36 years teaching — primarily English, but also filmmaking — in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She's an expert in certain dialects as well, such as obscure ones in the U.K. She's very precise and takes direction well, and with all that teaching experience is a born leader. That energy translates well into playing a very believable lead character."
"An accomplished theater actress in the Chicago area that I've not met nor seen acting in person, although I have spent time interviewing her on the phone. She comes highly recommended to me from other theater folks in Chicago."
Trinity Satin Joy
"Most of her performing has been in the New York theater scene, for decades. Again, she's someone I've not met in person, nor seen act, but is highly recommended by people I know in the NYC theater scene."
"A longtime actress in the Los Angeles area, Jenny has worked hard at acting all her life, and it shows. Although her energy may not match the original Maura, she does have the energy to play a lead as well as the acting chops."
"I've only met Kate once, briefly, over two years ago, and have never seen her act. But more than one actor I know in New York recommends her highly."
"Here's my curveball! What if the cast was to be black? Or what if Davina's [Alexandra Billings's character] foil was black? Pre-transition, Lana was most famous for playing Janet Jackson's love interest in the music video "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" and as Pebbles’s male lead in the "Mercedes Boy" music video. Today she's a very accomplished actress, who could play a lead, with the kind of energy and poise she has."