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Duplass brothers, Magnolia announce first-ever Oscar push for transgender actresses

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Augusta Quirk

Tangerine is going for gold.

Producers Jay and Mark Duplass and distributor Magnolia Pictures have announced an Oscar campaign for Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, the stars of the seriocomic tale about two transgender sex workers navigating the margins of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

The Tangerine bid marks the first time in Hollywood history that a distributor has pushed a transgender actress — or two transgender actresses, in this case — for awards season honors. Rodriguez will be promoted as lead actress, and Taylor as supporting.

Directed by Sean S. Baker, Tangerine emerged as a Sundance favorite and garnered excellent reviews when it hit theaters in July. EW gave the film an A-minus and called it “touching for its non-condescending stance toward working girls and the spirit of the sidewalk.”

Speaking about the Oscar push, Mark Duplass told Variety, “Jay and I are new to the Academy, so we’re just figuring this whole thing out. One thing that has become apparent to us as we look at this stuff, it seems that the TV Academy has embraced what’s happening in the trans movement with Transparent and Orange is the New Black. We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front.”

He added, “This is the time for it. We’re in the middle of a civil rights movement.”

The campaign will ramp up Tuesday evening as the Duplass brothers take the stage to discuss their work at an Academy event in Beverly Hills, including a clip from Tangerine.

Magnolia and the Duplass brothers are also planning bids for Tangerine‘s screenwriting and cinematography. Baker wrote the script with Chris Bergoch and shot the movie with Radium Cheung on a tricked-out iPhone.