Candis Cayne spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone about her role in upcoming LGBTQ rom-com I Hate New Year’s.
I Hate New Years is one of at least two LGBTQ holiday rom-coms this year. What was it about the script that attracted you to the film?
Candis Cayne: I loved the idea of just a happy, normal, well-adjusted, less like gay rom-com. I grew up in an era where the LGBT movies were always these big dramas, depression, and were really cheesy and not thought out. The scripts weren’t great. It was nice to read the script and see that it was a really uplifting, fun love story with two women as the leads. That was fun for me. Also, the character that I was asked to play was kind of a mystical kind of magical character that kind of brought these two women together and so that was fun for me.
Have you had any interesting experiences with fortune tellers?
Candis Cayne: I don’t know about fortune tellers but I have had a few psychic readings which have been fascinating and fun. I have a couple of friends—well, I have a friend who is kind of a medium. He just kind of knows thing was and it’s always so fascinating to me what he tells me.
Can you talk about your acting process with regards to portraying two characters in the film?
Candis Cayne: Well, I kind of looked at it like they were the same person. I feel like I was a little over the top as the fortune teller because I feel like the real person was the character who was the driver, who is just kind of this magical person that comes and finds people that need to be on the right path in love. It was fun playing that character in the sense that I didn’t want to make it too obvious in the Romanian kind of fortune teller accent and stuff. I love the idea of doing a character that’s over the top. That was what was fun for me to do but I look at them as kind of the same person but acting.
What do you typically look for in a character while reading a screenplay?
Candis Cayne: A job. (Laughs) For me, it’s about the writing. If the writing is good and if there’s a good team behind it, the character has to be truthful. Even if it’s a fanciful character, it has to live in truth. I’d really look for the writing and to know whether or not I can honestly play this character.
Are there any other things you take into account while deciding on projects?
Candis Cayne: Being a trans actress, my work is not just for me. I always have known this. It’s about the community and representing my minority community. When I take a part that is trans—not that this character was trans, this character wasn’t trans—a lot of the work that I do and have done have been about trans stories. It’s about the honesty of the character that I portray and the truth of who this person is. That’s mostly what I look for. I also look for when I’m reading a script, again, writing and just a challenge. It’s fun playing new types of characters that I haven’t done before. It challenges me and it’s exciting.
Do you feel that being trans has impacted the amount of work that you’re able to get?
Candis Cayne: Oh, definitely. Going on a show like Dirty Sexy Money and being one of the lead stars for two seasons and then getting off that show and not working barely for the next four years had everything to do with me being trans and Hollywood not knowing what to do with someone like me. It’s gotten a lot better, of course. With the producers, directors, and writers, and behind-the-scenes people writing stories that people like me, Laverne, Trace, Jamie, Rain, Alexandra, I mean, the list goes on and on and on of actual viable working trans actors
I was at the world premiere of Disclosure at Sundance.
Candis Cayne: Oh, cool.
It’s probably the most trans people that I’ve seen in the same room in my life.
Candis Cayne: That is so funny. There’s been a couple of moments where all of the girls—well, except the Pose girls because they’re in New York. I’ve been at a small gathering with all of the people I just mentioned and a few more that you would know and it was like, Oh my G-d, almost all of trans Hollywood is in this room right now. Kind of crazy.
It’s at the point where all you have to do is say the first name and I’m like, Oh, I know you’re talking about!
Candis Cayne: Yeah, so true.
I feel like it’s the same way with transgender film critics.
Candis Cayne: Yeah, exactly. We’re small but mighty!
Do you feel that Disclosure will have an impact going forward?
Candis Cayne: 100%. I didn’t know that it would when I filmed it. I just wanted to talk about my story and what it was like for me. The documentary really kind of was talking about the impact that negative things have had on our community because of the way we’ve been portrayed. A lot of the stuff I talked about were positive things, too. I’ve gotten a couple of projects in the works because of I feel—they didn’t say it was because of Disclosure. I just have that feeling like when Hollywood saw that documentary, I think it was an eye opener for a lot of people in the industry.
How many of those projects are currently on hold because of the pandemic?
Candis Cayne: Well, I’ve been working on them during the pandemic and they’ve been slowed down a lot because of it, which is a total bummer. The industry is starting to figure out how to work around it and take the necessary steps to keep everyone safe. It’s a slow process but I think we’ll get there. Hopefully, the vaccine along with Biden coming in and mask mandates, we might be able to get a hold of this thing eventually. Right now, it’s getting worse because of him. You know who I’m talking account. (Note: we were talking about the election results before getting underway with the interview.)
This is the first Thanksgiving I can remember ever that I’m going to be alone the entire day.
Candis Cayne: Yeah. Me, too.
It’s one of the downsides of living by myself in a studio apartment. This entire year has been tough. (Note: I’m actually transcribing the interview on Thanksgiving night but we spoke on November 13.)
Candis Cayne: Yeah. Where do you live?
I am in Chicago.
Candis Cayne: Okay. One of my best friends is in Chicago.
How have you managed to keep yourself occupied for the last several months?
Candis Cayne: I am lucky. I live in house in Altadena in the Pasadena area. I moved in about a year and a half ago. I had to do my garden. I love to garden. I’ve literally created a little botanical oasis here at my house. I’ve been doing that. I’ve done a couple of work-related things Zoom-wise and pretty much used up a lot of my savings and just hope for the best for it to all be over.