Transgender actors and actresses are hard to find. When director Eric Schaeffer wrote the script for coming of age rom-com Boy Meets Girl, he literally had to Google who might be available. Finding a young and dynamic YouTube vlogger Michelle Hendley was god send. The story revolves around an early 20 something transgender girl, Ricky, who is stuck in her hometown (Followed the best casual sex calvin website). Thankfully she is surrounded by a supportive family and an adoring best friend, Robby. Into daydreaming, creating original outfits she features on her Youtube channel, and trying to navigate friendships, Ricky finds herself attracted to the new girl around town, Francesca. Not knowing how “things” work sexually with a girl, Robby becomes her tutor in the ways of wooing a female properly. In a small Southern town, there are of course those who don’t fully accept Ricky as well as the masked sexual tensions from those in denial.Michelle is a real gem. She is naturally funny and sweet. Not to mention drop dead gorgeous, she carries this film with the help of Twilight alum Michael Welch. His performance is also extraordinarily organic and likable. The two steer this movie into the ABC Family category, meaning that it’s meant for tweens (at the youngest) and up audience. The dialogue is honest and reminiscent of conversations we’ve all had while trying to figure out where we belong.In the end, this film is not about being transgender, it’s about loving yourself. Boy Meets Girl has a great message to people of all ages and should be on your agenda. So many folks we know have lived in fear of judgement for years. I had an amazing teacher who was married, had children, all hiding the fact that he was gay. This is not a unique scenario. Too many teens are taking their own lives because of bullying. Boy Meets Girl is a beautiful introduction into a world some are still having a rough time accepting. Parents, watch it first, then watch it with your kids. Now is the time.
I had the privilege of interviewing Michelle about her very first role in a feature film:
Michelle: Wow! Thank you so much! And absolutely! I’m thrilled that you want to interview with me! Eric found me via my Youtube vlog, and from there I auditioned with him over Skype. He worked with me on the script for a few months before making the final decision to cast me as Ricky.
Michelle: We did not spend a lot of time together before shooting, but there was a Skype call or two and I do remember getting Indian food together and having an in-depth discussion about spirituality and the after life….the curry was pretty great too. Michael is genuinely a great guy, and incredibly easy to work with (I know Alex and Michael Galante would also agree).
Michelle: Oh yes! Definitely. I’m working with an agency in New York right now, and just got done shooting and NBC pilot. It looks like I have an acting career coming my way!
Michelle: Oh my gosh. Eric taught me *so* much! He basically put me through actor’s bootcamp (and even sent me off to an acting coach for a little while), and showed me the ins and outs of being on camera. Perhaps the most important thing I learned from him was to know your lines in-and-out so you can allow yourself to play with line readings and give the director a variety of takes. Seems like basic knowledge, but what did I know? I was just a Missouri girl in the middle of beauty school when he found me.
Michelle: There are a number of parallels between Ricky and myself. I certainly relate with her when it comes to the struggles of gender transition, and the horribleness that dating can be. We also come from a supportive family and have loving friends. However, Ricky has a darker past than I do, and therefore carries herself with more of an edge. Ricky is stronger than me, and it was important that I made that distinction when portraying her. Oh, and I can’t sew for anything.
Michelle: You are absolutely 110% right. It is amusing (in the most frustrating, hair-pulling kinda way) the way people get up-in-arms about sexuality (and gender) – there own identity and other peoples’! I’m not a huge fan of labels, but I am very much attracted to men. That isn’t to say there couldn’t be a lady out there who had it goin’ on for me, but for the most part…I like dudes. I identify as a heterosexual female… Most people have not seen a transgender body, and I honestly feel that is why there is so much stigma against trans individuals. I think the world needs to face their fear and see that my body is beautiful, powerful, and that it isn’t threatening anyone (or their sense masculinity).
Michelle: A lot of people are beginning to see me as a representative for the trans community, and I am more than happy to facilitate that role. Yes, it is intimidating and I do feel a bit of pressure, but if my community feels I am doing them justice, then I couldn’t be happier. I receive a ton of messages from individuals all over the LBGTQ spectrum (and parents of LBGTQ children), and I try my best to answer their questions or give guidance when I can.
Michelle: Thank *you* so much! I LOVED your questions, and I hope I have the opportunity to interview with you again!
One of the most popular and award-winning LGBT films of the year, BOY MEETS GIRL is an authentic Southern romantic-comedy starring the newcomer Michelle Hendley as Ricky, a young transwoman trying to navigate life and looking for romance in her small Kentucky hometown. Will she find love with the beautiful rich girl Francesca (Alexandra Turshen, RED OAKS) or with her lifelong best pal Robby (Michael Welch, TWILIGHT franchise)? Authentically written and directed by accomplished indie filmmaker Eric Schaeffer (IF LUCY FELL starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Ben Stiller, Elle Macpherson, NEVER AGAIN starring Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Clayburgh), BOY MEETS GIRL simultaneously exemplifies and transcends the category of “LGBT film” to present the very human story of the blurry and complicated lines between friendship and romance, gender and sexuality.
Said writer-director Eric Schaeffer, “In making this film, I wanted everyone–regardless of gender (cis or trans) or sexual orientation to have a chance to identify with the film’s themes of wanting to be unconditionally loved and accepted for who we are. The message in this film is the same as in all my work: labeling leaves no room for who we really are, or how we really experience life. I think our only chance is to bury those labels forever in favor of a singular new one: human. Hate is easy. The real courage is in love.”
BOY MEETS GIRL completed its theatrical run in February 2015 and garnered numerous awards on the film festival circuit, including Best Feature at the Teaneck International Film Festival, the prestigious Iris Prize Festival and the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The film also picked up multiple awards at FilmOut San Diego, sweeping up nearly every jury award for which it was eligible at the 2014 festival – nabbing statues for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Hendley also won the Programming Award for Outstanding Emerging Talent.