A Conversation with Theo Germaine

This week we're sitting down with Theo Germain to talk about his rising star and the realities of being a trans actor.

With all of the things going on in your life right now, how do you take care of yourself? What have you found to be the most important components in your self care routine?

It’s honestly a little hard to give myself continuous care, so I give myself reminders on the daily. I make sure I’m drinking enough water, eating enough, getting some exercise - even if it is just going on a walk - and making sure I’m socializing. I try to find time to do things to enrich myself for no other reason than to just feel good. Sometimes when I’m at work, I get tunnel vision and I have to remind myself I’m more than a product, and I’m not a machine. Capitalism prizes us for grinding and grinding and grinding, so I try to let go and give myself rest. Some of the really important components in my self care include - intuitive eating, practicing saying no and not overwhelming myself with gigs, prioritizing rest, circus training (PURE JOY), and spending time at home.

You’ve been doing a lot of press since the success of your recent projects, what do you wish journalists would stop doing when they’re interviewing trans and nonbinary folx?

I wish that interviewers would work on moving beyond just asking about the coming out process and be more curious about other parts of our lives. There’s also a lot of stories and interviews out there that are honestly just framed as nothing more than inspiration porn for cisgender people - and that makes us feel like a trend, which we aren’t. There may be some newer terms being used but language is always changing and trans and nonbinary people have been around since the beginning of time. People also still like to ask about surgeries and hormones, which I’m fine to talk about to an extent, but only for the purposes of confirming my own gender journey, and to explain that everyone has Their Own journey - people are easy to make blanket statements about medical transition, and it’s time to move beyond that.

Can you tell us how it feels to be playing a trans character in Work in Progress? Does it feel different than playing a cis-appearing character?

Chris is a great character and I love him! I love that he’s a young man, he’s confident, and he looks like me. Right now it feels different in the sense that I might approach developing the character a little differently than if gender isn’t really a fore-front subject or issue (like with my character James in The Politician).

One of the first search results in google is “Is Theo Germaine a boy or a girl” do you think about that a lot, does it bother you, or is the confusion around your gender part of the joy of being nonbinary?

Oh god. My answer to that is, I wish that one of the first search results in google was “What is Theo Germaine’s favorite book?” Currently it’s tied between 2666 by Roberto Bolano, and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

What do is the one thing you wish more people knew about being trans/nonbinary?

Honestly… that fat trans and nonbinary people exist. That elder trans people and nonbinary people exist. That disabled trans and nonbinary people exist. That neuroatypical trans and nonbinary people exist. And that the most interesting thing about trans and nonbinary people isn’t our gender.

Do you think there are special struggles that trans actors encounter as they are building their careers? If so can you speak to some of those struggles that you, personally, have encountered?

I’m still finding myself getting boxed in, and sometimes limited to casting calls where Trans is listed in the breakdown. It feels like gender is getting listed as a personality trait, and it’s not. I’ve been in audition rooms where there’s characters I Only fit because of the breakdown saying “transgender male, age etc,” and been kept from characters I actually fit - this can be a common experience. A lot of the breakdowns are also for teenage characters - and I wish we were seeing more breakdowns, if it truly is really important the character needs to be trans - that were for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.

Can you share with us some moments of trans joy that you’ve experienced recently?

Yesterday, my friend and I (she is also trans) got to have coffee together. We sat and caught up in a coffee shop on the southside in Chicago (where I live), after having not been able to see each other in person for a while. We filled each other in on what was happening in our lives, talked about planning a cabin or camping trip sometime over the summer, shared some food, and then went on a walk and sat together on a park bench for a long time and talked some more, before we had to part. It was simple, joyous, and great.

Can you share a few parting words of wisdom to our trans, nonbinary, or questioning readers?

I’ve been trying to find a way to fit in since I’ve had a lot of career changes, brief encounters with Hollywood, and changes in press and publicity - and honestly.. the thing that has helped has been giving up on trying to fit in? By that I mean I stopped desperately looking at how other people were maneuvering the industry as a means to my own success, and I stopped thinking I was failing for not having commercial success until being in my mid-twenties. Queer people are on their own paths, and there’s different challenges we’re going to face because of that, but I don’t care. I ask for advice from a lot of my peers in the industry, and I also know that there’s at least 100 different ways to cook an egg, and I’m going to find my way the best by being myself.

This applies to the rest of life. If you feel like you don’t fit in, that’s fine. Find your people, your communities, and persevere. You’re not a failure. You’re a success for Being. You’re a success for coming out when you’re a teen, or coming out in your forties. Find out what gender and expression means to you, explore the ways in which you affirm and confirm your gender. I support you!