What’s next for former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ star Isis King
Isis King’s role in TV history was secured when she became the first transgender woman to compete on “America’s Next Top Model,” but she’s not resting on her laurels.
The 35-year-old, who competed on both the eleventh and seventeenth cycle of the reality television show (in 2005 and 2011), becoming an early trailblazer for trans people in the mainstream, stars in an episode of HBO Max’s “Equal,” a four-part docuseries exploring landmark events in LGBTQ history.
“It was just so amazing to hear so many stories about trans people from the past,” King told Page Six. “I feel like our voices are just now starting to be heard, so it was very inspiring to hear stories from that far back of these people who didn’t have anybody else like them around and just had their own courage to make it work.”
In “Equal,” King plays a composite character named Alexis in the episode, which focuses on the 1966 riot by trans people at a Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, an uprising against police that predates the more famous Stonewall Riot in New York.
Like many, King hadn’t heard of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot prior to “Equal.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was so surprised that it was so similar … it was so many of the same things that happened at Stonewall. It was like reading a history book and then discovering there was another chapter you’d never heard about.”
King moved from New York to LA in 2016, and told us that she feels it’s only within the last four years that “the trans movement has been pushed further along in terms of our representation.”
“I spent most of my career in New York in an era where, honestly, I wasn’t really getting opportunities that often,” she said before reeling off a list of jobs — salon coordinator, makeup artist — that she worked while trying to break through.
“I will say for visibility, I do see a difference [in LA]. I feel like it’s so much easier to brush shoulders with game-changers here. I lived in New York for 10 years, I transitioned there, but it was also a comfort zone for me. I knew I needed to shake it up because I felt there was not as much progression happening as I needed.”
King has been acting for over a decade but feels like she’s just hitting her stride as an actress. “In 2011 I went to the Philippines and shot a feature-length film [2013’s “Hello Forever”] … I did this 22-hour flight by myself to shoot this film — half of which was done guerrilla-style and was probably actually very dangerous — and that gave me the oomph to say, ‘I really want this.’”
“But then after that it was like, crickets … Or something like a small role where there was no depth to the character,” she explains.
“But everything has happened the way it was supposed to happen, and I can’t try to overthink it. I just know that every time I do get something, I give it 120 percent, and hope that I’m leaving a positive impact with everything that I do.”
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