More than a month after it was announced Scarlett Johansson would play real-life transgender male kingpin Dante "Tex" Gill in Rupert Sanders' Rub & Tug, she has announced she's withdrawing from the film. The casting was immediately met with controversy, as many believed the role should have gone to a transgender man rather than a cisgender woman.
The actress' first statement on the issue was a defensive one. She told Bustle via her rep: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment," referring to other cisgender actors who have played transgender characters.
Dear #ScarlettJohansson, the way you can use your privilege as a white cis woman is to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities, not speak for them.July 4, 2018
But in a new statement to Out in which she announces she's withdrawing, she's more reflective about the backlash. She says she's "learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive."
Here's her full statement to Out:
In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.
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Kate Storey is a contributing editor at Marie Claire and writer-at-large at Esquire magazine, where she covers culture and politics. Kate's writing has appeared in ELLE, Harper's BAZAAR, Town & Country, and Cosmopolitan, and her first book comes out in summer 2023.
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