Tangerine star Mya Taylor made history on Saturday night at the Spirit Awards, becoming the first transgender actress to win a major film award.
“I have had a long journey through my 2015, because I had come from almost nothing. And then I got this role and this movie, and my life did a total 360,” Taylor said during her acceptance speech for best supporting actress, before joking that the trek up to the podium left her out of breath. “I feel fat,” she said to laughs from the crowd.
Directed by Sean Baker and shot using an iPhone, Tangerine was one of 2015’s breakout indies. The film stars Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as a pair of friends who trek through Los Angeles on Christmas eve to find Rodriguez’s unfaithful boyfriend.
“The first thing I thought is this movie ain’t going to be sh–,” Taylor joked on Saturday about her initial reaction to hearing the film would be shot on an iPhone. “But it turned out amazing.”
Taylor closed her speech by making a plea to filmmakers to cast more transgender men and women. “There is transgender talent. There’s very beautiful transgender talent. So you better get out there and put it in your next movie,” she said.
The actress was praised on social media for her comments, including by Laverne Cox. “I am still teary after watching @TheMyaTaylor’s acceptance speech at the #SpiritAwards,” Cox wrote on Twitter. “As a proud, black trans woman, actress I am so proud.”
The Orange is the New Black star expanded her thoughts on Instagram, writing, “I am so happy, inspired and proud of #MyaTaylor for making history tonight becoming the first transgender actor to win at the #SpiritAwards. And I loved her call to action in her acceptance speech to the filmmakers in the room to put transgender talent in your films. We have award winning talent and craft that just needs a chance to shine. Thank you Sean Baker and everyone involved with the film #Tangerine for giving two trans women of color a chance to tell trans stories. Thanks you #SpiritAwards for recognizing this incredible performance.”
For a full list of Spirit Award winners, head here.