Transgender Tangerine Star Mya Taylor on Historic Acting Win at Indie Spirit Awards: 'The Struggle Was Real for Me, and I Got Out of It'

2016 Spirit Awards: Tangerine's Mya Taylor Talks Historic Acting Win
Mya Taylor
Lester Cohen/Getty

02/28/2016 AT 09:40 AM EST

On Saturday, Mya Taylor walked off the stage at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards as this year's best supporting female winner – the first transgender actress in American history to win a major film award – for her role as a sex worker in the iPhone-shot dramedy Tangerine.

But it was only about two years ago that Taylor couldn't even get a job.

"What it means to have this trophy in my hand? When I look at acting, I don't look at the money or the fame or anything like that," Taylor told reporters after her win inside the Indie Spirit Awards' press room. "I went through a very, very hard struggle and for me, I just feel like when I do stuff like this, I have to let other people know."

"You can do whatever you put your mind to," she said, adding, "The struggle was real for me, and I got out of it."


"It was very depressing and everything, but I pushed and pushed and pushed," Taylor said. "Then when this opportunity came, it was an opportunity given from God and I took it. I guess it made up for all the struggles that I went through. So keep pushing."

In a recent period of unprecedented focus on the challenges facing transgender people, Taylor said that there has been a "shift" in acceptance.

"I see more people being open about different genders and different races and stuff like that," she said. "I mean, we could've avoided it a million years ago with all the sexism and racism and stuff like that."

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live streaming pre-show celebration on Feb. 28 beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT on and, with live red carpet coverage, fashion and beauty trends, and winner predictions. And catch the 88th Academy Awards at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC. Click here for a handy ballot of this year's Oscar nominees!

But, Taylor said, "I can easily just say people should be minding their business. It'll make life a lot easier. Don't worry about what somebody's gender is or who they're having sex with or whatever the case may be."

Next for the North Dakota-based actress – she has no plan to move back to Los Angeles ("I hate the heat") – is a TV series she is developing with her agency.

Taylor described it as "everything that Tangerine is, but it will be a lot more."

"It will be very educational, but it will be very funny and very dramatic at the same time," she said. A story to match its star.

"Think about watching Empire. You constantly want to know what's going to happen for the next episode," Taylor said. "That's what my s--- is going to be like."

Reporting by MARIAH HAAS
blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners