Viewers of the popular daytime drama “The Bold and Beautiful” were no doubt surprised by the March 2015 revelation that the character of Maya Avant, a fashion model with a colorful love life, was revealed to be transgender.
"Did you always talk like a girl?" asked Nicole, Maya's estranged sister.
"How do girls talk?" Maya asked.
"Why didn't you just wear the clothes?" Nicole said.
"Being myself isn't an outfit I can put on and take off," Maya replied. "I was never a boy. This is the way I was born."
As portrayed by actress Karla Mosley since January 2013, Maya promises to be part of the B&B canvas for some time to come.
For the first year of her B&B tenure, Maya was believed to be a cisgender woman. Viewers enjoyed her often melodramatic romantic entanglements, as well as her glamorous life as a model. But last month Maya's long lost sister Nicole stumbled upon the truth about Maya's past: Maya was once known as Myron, a brother Nicole had lost track of.
"I was nervous," Mosley told SFGN. "It kept me up at night. I was nauseous for three weeks, because I care about this story so much. I want to represent people correctly."
She said that friends of hers had to "toss me off the ledge" figuratively, so she could dive into the pool and play out this new storyline. "I do have friends who are trans," she said. "I turned to them for advice and inspiration."
The storyline wasn't all that shocking to American viewers, who might have been prepared for it by the emergence of transgender celebrities such as Lavern Cox and Janet Mock. Mosley was quick to point out that “The Bold and the Beautiful” is seen in over one hundred countries, some of which do not yet have a visible trans community.
"We're seen in places where being LGBT is still illegal," Mosley said. "It'll be interesting to see the ripple effect around the world. I hope we open people's hearts."
The actress said that studying the works of feminist icons assisted her in preparing for her portrayal of the "new" Maya. "It's so wonderful researching this character by reading the works of modern feminist authors like Audre Lorde," she said. "And now it's exciting to see Maya living her life."
Mosley reports that the response to Maya's outing has been 80-90 percent supportive. "I tend to engage with people online," she said. "I made a point to answer people's questions. I get the best tweets!"
She said that some of her Twitter followers have told her that she's telling their story. "That means a lot," she said.
Mosley realizes that some viewers might object to her being cast as Maya. "It's controversial for me to play trans when I'm cisgender," the actress said. "I want to do justice to Maya's story."
“The Bold and the Beautiful” airs weekday afternoons on CBS TV.