Scott Turner Schofield has already made daytime and broadcast television history. Back in May, when he debuted on The Bold and the Beautiful in the role of Nick, Maya’s (Karla Mosley) friend and mentor, Schofield became the first transgender actor to play a major, or recurring role on a daytime drama series.
As an expert, diversity speaker, and author for the transgender community, Scott brings an important and critical realism to the story of Maya Avant and B&B’s mission to tell great story while shedding light on the transgender community, which is ultimately at its epicenter a compassionate love tale between Maya and the man in her life, Rick Forrester (Jacob Young) filled with internal struggles, and public opinion. For Schofield, who has quite the theatrical resume, he has seized this opportunity to embrace the soap world and help spread the message of acceptance, and to raise awareness for the often struggles of this long under-represented part of our population in the media.
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Scott to ask him about: his first foray into the soaps, working alongside the likes Mosley and Thorsten Kaye (Ridge), what he thought of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut to the world, and how we now can open up a dialog for a clearer understanding of the transgender community.
Did you watch yourself back on your first episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful? What did you think?
SCOTT: It is totally weird and strange to look at yourself, but I did this pep talk that is all over the internet, too … and that is even weird. There is this disconnect. Only I wonder, if it’s especially much because I am transgender, and to see myself. There is just this huge mind/body disconnect. So when my first episode of B&B aired, my mom and I were traveling together. We were in the Hampton Inn lobby in Virginia, and it was 1:30 in the afternoon and we had to check out. So we asked them to turn on the TV … and my mom started crying!
What have you thought of the scripts, and how B&B has handled the telling of Maya’s journey and spotlighting the issues that face the transgender community?
SCOTT: I mean this, and I am not saying this just because I want to keep my job, but I am an expert on transgender issues … not only an expert, but also as someone who wants to uplift and honor the transgender community, and that is who I am already. I would not have taken this role if I thought that was not going to happen. When Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) came in to tell me to let him know if there was anything wrong with the scripts, and to give an actor that power, that just doesn’t happen or exist! What is so upsetting to me is that people don’t watch daytime like they do everything else. It’s OK, because B&B has 30 million viewers worldwide, but I am saying in the United States if we were doing this on Netflix, if we were doing this on primetime, people would be losing their minds. So if they are not watching, they should! If they would set their DVR’s, their minds would be blowing right now!
There you were in one of your first scenes with none other than Thorsten Kaye (Ridge)! And when Nick came into speak with Ridge; the two had quite the conversation. How was working with Thorsten? Were you at all intimated?
SCOTT: He is so wonderful. Everybody in the cast and crew has been amazing, and everyone there is excited for what is happening on the show, and that I am there to help them bring that. Thorsten and I had this very intense scene, and me as an actor going up against Thorsten Kaye, I am sitting there going, “Wow! We are not in a theatre, or off-off Broadway anymore, kid.” He was so kind, and he saw me, and he knew it was my first soap opera in a scene against, or with, this leading man. I am the guy who is supposed to show up as a man who is a transgender, and so there was all kinds of a stuff going on between us. Thorsten offered me a word of advice, which was, “Look at the side of my face. That will open up your face for the cameras.” He would be like, “Open the door this way,” and would even have the crew do another take with me. He helped make me look good, and if that is not an ally, then I don’t know what is.
Was there a long audition process you had to go through to land the part of Nick?
SCOTT: I am sure it was for them (B&B), because the two times I went into read for the part there was an array of people of all types, looks, levels, and they really didn’t know what they were ultimately going for, but they liked me.
How has it been working with Karla Mosley (Maya)?
SCOTT: I love Karla. We have a friend in common, and we have the theatre world in common, and so when we figured that out in hair and make-up the first day. Karla just became my friend, and then when we were at the GLAAD Media Awards together in New York City, and met Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), and I almost fainted. She is a godsend! She is an incredible being, and I just wanted to thank her for all she has done. When I met her I kind of lost faculties in my speech. I was so mad at myself, and there were no cameras around recording what happened, or any documentation of this ever happening. So Karla took me by the wrist and turned me around, and there was Laverne! And Karla said, “Laverne, so nice to see you again. Could we take some photographs?” I went, “Oh! Karla Mosley is a big star! I forgot!” (Laughs)
Recently, Karla was put through her paces on Janet Mock’s MSNBC talk show So Popular. One of the pointed questions Mock posed to Karla was: did the actress ever think why B&B didn’t just hire a transgender actress to take on this key role instead of her? What are your thoughts on that line of questioning?
SCOTT: It is a question, of course. And here is what I loved from the Janet Mock perspective, and from her book “Redefining Realness”. Janet Mock left Hawaii after having all of her work done, and so she left Hawaii as a woman … the woman that she was always meant to be, the woman that she is today. She moved to New York. She did not tell people she was transgender – she didn’t tell people she lived with, she didn’t tell men that she was with romantically – she didn’t tell anyone for quite a few years. Then she met the man of her dreams, which is now her fiancée, and this is in the book. She realizes she has to disclose everything, because that is what a relationship is built upon that is a deeply intimate relationship – this kind of information. So then we go through all of her life in her book. But the deal is: Karla Mosley/Maya Avant is a woman, just like all women, which is exactly the point of Janet Mock’s book “Redefining Realness”. Janet has always been this real woman, and she has to disclose this one fact about her medical history. Our culture thinks being transgender is “such a huge deal”. I have been out as transgender for ten years now.
I am sure, as others have, you must have suffered emotionally trying to be accepted as your authentic self.
SCOTT: Of course, but I only suffered because people who weren’t transgender wouldn’t accept me as transgender. I knew this the whole time, right? I have been a man physically, legally for ten years, and now I am just a man in every day life. Sure people think I am a gay guy, which is totally fine with me. But I am a real man in every sense of the word. Just like Maya Avant is in this story on The Bold and the Beautiful, a real woman. When I meet someone that I want to have that level of intimacy with I will share that with them on my timetable when I feel I am ready, and that’s exactly what the character of Maya has done. So, I think the way they wrote the story is terrific for people who blend, and no one ever asks the question … ‘were you ever something else before?’
With all the headlines made by Caitlyn Jenner – while so many are wildly supportive and admire her – still others have voiced mixed feelings on this. Caitlyn has a lot of money, and could afford surgeries that many in the transgender community couldn’t even dream of being able to finance. Many in the community have faced abuse, and have to scramble by any means necessary to go through a transition. What are your thoughts on the message that Caitlyn Jenner is sending out to the world?
SCOTT: One thing that we do in the transgender community is that we tear each other down, and it’s hard enough out there. Here is the thing about Caitlyn Jenner: there was a study done and 8% percent of people said that they knew a transgender person. Everybody now knows a transgender person, and you can’t say you don’t – unless you have literally been living under a rock – and that is really valuable. Now that people know a transgender person, hopefully they have some questions, and they will be kind and human enough to have a conversation. And, in those conversations they will find out that we are two to three times more likely to be unemployed, and therefore we are broke as a general rule, not like Caitlyn. That we have a one in twelve chance of being murdered, and that forty percent of us attempt suicide. Now some serious talks will come if anyone cares enough to ask. I do think now someone will care enough to ask, or at least be a little bit prepared, because they all know at least a name they can say.
What did you think of Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover? It was quite the well-thought out and executed publicity plan, too.
SCOTT: I thought it was a beautiful photograph and the Marilyn Monroe synchronicity is great. I think a lot people have mixed feeling on this, and perhaps even Caitlyn does, too. But you do the one thing that you can, and the fact that an American hero became Marilyn Monroe in her own way, I mean … that is so great!
Do you think fans of B&B can expect Nick to be in the mix more, and more as Maya’s story continues to be told?
SCOTT: Here’s what I can tell you: it was built as a four-episode arc, and my sixth episode recently aired. So I am a recurring character, and that is all I know. I hope I will be recurring for a while. I love it over at The Bold and the Beautiful and to be my whole self at work, and to be so respected, and so supported. This is what we are going for in transgender advocacy: for people to go to work, be their whole selves, and be supported. I get to that every day I am on set there. So yes, I want to go back there all the time.
What do you think about what Scott shared about his experience & the transgender community? Do you hope Nick continues to be a vital part of The Bold and the Beautiful canvas as the CBS Daytime drama series continues to tell the story of Maya Avant? Share your thoughts below!