Rub & Tug will be looking for a new actor to take on the role of Dante "Tex" Gill after Scarlett Johansson decided to leave the project. The transgender community has applauded Johansson's decision to leave the movie after tearing the actress to shreds for taking on the role in the first place. It was announced earlier this month that Scarlett Johansson was going to play a transgender man in Rub & Tug, which saw a tremendous backlash. However, that controversy was nothing compared to the backlash that occurred after Johansson released a statement defending her casting.
Scarlett Johansson revealed yesterday that she was exiting Rub & Tug, leading to praise from the transgender community. Dozens of transgender actors, filmmakers, artists, and activists have voiced their support for Johansson after her statement. Rain Valdez, an actress and producer was moved to tears by Johansson's decision to leave Rub & Tug. She had this to say.
"It says a lot about Scarlett Johansson. That actually makes me a little emotional because it's not an easy industry for trans women. It's not an easy industry for trans men."
Actress Alexandra Grey (Transparent) talked about the struggles that transgender actors go through in the entertainment industry. She also touched on Scarlett Johansson's original statement that defended her casting in Rub & Tug. Johansson's first statement directed detractors to look into the roles that Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor and other cis actors have taken and won awards for. Grey explains.
"We're broken. It hurts us sometimes when we see cis actors portraying our stories and winning Oscars and winning Emmys."
Jen Richards, creator of Her Stories as well as the first transgender actress on Nashville, was thankful that the discussion about transgender actors was being talked about, even though it is controversial. She applauded Johansson's statement and talked about a troubling statistic from GLAAD having to do with representation within the entertainment business. Richards hopes that the controversy will end up as a larger dialogue about inclusivity. She says.
"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."
The transgender community is tired of feeling ignored by Hollywood and the Rub & Tug backlash is just the tipping point. More artists and advocates are going to be speaking out now, more than ever, about the opportunities that transgender actors miss out on to cis actors. Scarlett Johansson was vilified two weeks ago for an insensitive statement, and now the actress is being praised for her decision to leave Rub & Tug, which may end up giving the role to a trans actor now. You can read more about the transgender community embracing Scarlett Johansson's new announcement at The Hollywood Reporter.