Amiyah Scott gained popularity before ever touching the set of a television production. Born Arthur Scott, the Transgender model instantly became a hot topic because of her beauty and relationship links.
When she was approached to join a season of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Scott thought she would have a platform that would enable her to be a voice for the Transgender community.
Apparently, that wasn’t the case though.
Instead, as headlines swarmed, allegedly, the show was more interested in making Scott out to be a drama queen and exploit her sexuality, which led to the model’s early departure and this social media posting before the season got into full swing.
Despite the drama, the New Orleans-bred talent soon inked a deal to join Lee Daniels’ buzzed about series, STAR.
The show, which aired as a special premiere on Dec. 14th 2016 before locking in its Wednesday rotation on January 4, centers on three talented young girls with their eyes set on making it in the music industry. The road, of course, is a tricky one as their reality conflicts with their dreams.
Set in Atlanta, Scott takes on the role of “Cotton,” a Transgender hustler and sometimes dancer who knows her way around the ATL scene, but moonlights as an assistant in her mother’s (Queen Latifah) hair salon.
Taking a break from filming on set, JET sat down with the soft-spoken and hella fly Ms. Amiyah Scott to discuss tapping into her character and her hopes for more opportunities for the transgender community in Hollywood.
JET: Coming onto your first acting gig alongside Queen Latifah and under the direction of Lee Daniels, how are you feeling in this moment?
Amiyah Scott: It is just amazing. It’s surreal. Each and every morning I wake up and it happens so I know that it’s real but Wow! Just wow. Working with Lee Daniels and Queen Latifah and the list goes on …it’s the vibe. Me, walking into it, because you don’t know what to expect, was my first acting experience and to be met with such warm people, it’s such a family vibe. I’m so blessed and thankful to be a part of something so great.
JET: Were there challenges getting into the fullness of your character?
Amiyah Scott: I think the biggest thing for me to adjust to it was when I first came into it, you would think that acting is “to act”. I thought that I had to act a certain way but what I realized, and it was one of the best tips that I got, is that I just have to be myself and be natural. I believe that natural really shines and it’s believable. Lee always says ‘make it real’. So I didn’t have to go in there and pretend to do something, I just had to play it. I had to reflect on some of the experiences that I felt and thankfully my character and I had similar stories. I have a lot of references. So though I may not have acting experience, I have real life experience and that’s something that really helps me with my character.
JET: I saw the first episode and there is one very intense scene that really grabbed attention. Without fully giving it away, how did you emotionally prepare for that and the importance of having it a part of the series.
Amiyah Scott: In 2016, it was the most deadliest year for Trans women. I’m sure there’s hundreds more ladies who have been involved in hate violence and things like that. So, to shine a light on that issue, it was very intense in the moment. I have been trans bashed – not physically attacked but I know people who have. The world is a very scary place and not everyone is as accepting as you’d think. People are very ignorant and unfortunately innocent people just trying to live their lives become victims. So, that scene hit home for me. It was tough, to say the least. But we got through it and I think showing it on that type of scale…because what Lee is doing with my character, in particular, is shining a light on something that hasn’t been seen before. But it’s something that’s very prevalent in this day and age. Hopefully, it opens up a lot of people’s eyes. Hopefully, this adds to the steps in transgender progression along with all the other wonderful ladies that are helping to pave the way.
JET: There’a tension in the relationship between Cotton and her mother Carlotta, can you describe the dynamic between the two of them?
Amiyah Scott: I think I have to say first that they love each and that’s with any family. And I think that Cotton and Carlotta’s relationship is just going to shine a light on things that are happening on the daily. There are so many gay youth who aren’t loved, disowned, abandoned and who aren’t supported. I think that Carlotta loves Cotton and Cotton loves Carlotta, but she also loves herself and wants to be herself. And I can see that Carlotta battles with it and that she’s trying to understand and accept it but I don’t think that there will ever be a resolution until she accepts who she is or supports her daughter. But she is trying. That’s very realistic.
I had supportive parents. My mom has always been supportive. My dad struggled at first and I won’t lie to you about it. But that’s what makes him calling me ‘princess’ now so worthwhile because that’s progress. People may not really understand, but you can respect someone. You can respect their choices. And that’s what love really is. When you love someone you should love them enough to support them being themselves.
JET: Because Lee Daniels is tapping into the transgender community, how do you further see it helping the community gain more opportunity in Hollywood?
Amiyah Scott: Oh of course! I’m so grateful to wear those shoes and be on this journey. But I do believe that it will open up tons of doors for the trans community in addition to other great ladies that are doing the same thing. But, yeah I think that it’s going to shine a positive light on the trans community and that’s what my motive is. And I know, though we’re fighting it daily, we have some negative stigmas and stereotypes, and I want people to know that we’re people just like everybody else and we have good hearts, and good jobs just like everybody else. And we’re normal people.
Tune-in to STAR, currently in its Second Season on Fox straight after Empire.