National Enquirer, March 6, 2006, pages 26-27
I taught Felicity what it's like to change sex
Transsexual Andrea James, 39, was Felicity Huffman’s coach for the Oscar nominated movie Transamerica. Here, she tells how her own life story shaped Huffman’s Oscar-nominated performance.
my business partner Calpernia Addams and me to coach her when she was
researching her part as Bree in the film Transamerica. We run a production
company and are both transsexual women, so she felt we had a lot of wisdom and
advice to offer her.
First of all, she wanted to know our stories. I was brought up in the Midwest in a tiny town where transsexuals weren’t discussed or even known about. But as a boy I just didn’t feel right about myself or the body I was in. I was very in tune with my feminine side and I often wished I’d been born a girl. I found out what “transsexual” meant when I was 12 but I couldn’t speak to anyone about it.
I moved to Chicago
when I was 21 and that’s where I first met transsexual women. I knew that at
last I could achieve my childhood dream – to be a woman. The first thing I did
was have my facial hair removed, and then I started growing my hair to look more
feminine. I took female hormones to make my figure curvier and I practiced
making my voice higher.
My transition began in 1995 and finished in 1998 when I had my final surgery, which is what Bree is waiting for in Transamerica.
Felicity was particularly interested in the emotions a transsexual woman goes through during the final transition. She came to our office once a week and sometimes we went to her home. We read the whole script and wrote down our thoughts on what her character would be thinking at specific times in the movie.
She was particularly interested in getting her voice right for the part. Men tend to talk more from the chest, and we worked on giving her voice a deep hollowness.
Both Calpernia and myself appear in the movie. I was Bree’s vocal coach, just like in real life!
We first saw the movie at a press screening in Hollywood and we thought it was an amazing accomplishment. One of my favorite scenes is where Bree visits her parents. It’s played for laughs and very over the top, but it rings true for the shock and anger many parents express when they first see their child after transition.
I was lucky- my dad supported me from the day I told him but my mother was afraid for me. Now she’s accepted the changes and is proud of me and my career.
Felicity did a wonderful job as Bree. It is so easy to use transsexual people as a joke but she portrayed her character as a very real human being. We’ll be cheering for Felicity and the movie at the “Oscars” – she deserves to win the best actress award for sure!
-- As told to Sharon Ward
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