The executive producer and writer shares her approach to create a safe work environment, and how her own life experience inspired one of the reboot's characters.

EW Game Changers is a series profiling the people and projects making an impact in diversity, equity, and inclusion in entertainment.

Queer as Folk executive producer and trans activist Jaclyn Moore cites an unexpected source of inspiration when it comes to storytelling: Aaron Sorkin's talky workplace dramedy Sports Night. "The idea of having an authorial voice stuck with me at a young age," she says. Sorkin and Gilmore Girls' Amy Sherman-Palladino are among the writers who impressed Moore with their "beautiful musical dialogue," and inspired her to start writing scripts.

But unlike Sorkin and Palladino, Moore, 34, got her big break in Hollywood in a thoroughly modern way: The Twitter account she ran with now-Desus & Mero producer-writer Josh Gondelman, @SeinfeldToday, which re-imagined Seinfeld episodes centering on current-day problems, caught the attention of agents. She soon landed a job as a writer on the short-lived 2014 remake of the British comedy Gavin & Stacey, and then on HBO Max's Love Life. Next was a stint on Netflix's Dear White People, where she started as a writer-producer before becoming co-showrunner for the fourth and final season. "[Dear White People] taught me how important it is to listen and to know what you don't know," says Moore, who was the only white writer on the show.

"Jaclyn has a genius for writing, and also for finding what's personal to an audience at the heart of socially complex material," says DWP creator Justin Simien. "Giving space for her stories and supporting her utterly unique queer point of view has been a joy."

QUEER AS FOLK -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Executive Producer Jaclyn Moore
Credit: Matthias Clamer/Peacock

Now Moore is advocating for queer and trans people by standing up to Netflix for anti-trans content, and crafting complex LGBTQ characters in Peacock's reboot of Queer as Folk. Working with new Queer as Folk creator Stephen Dunn, Moore executive produces the show and runs the writers' room. The reimagined series is more inclusive than its predecessors (the British series ran from 1999-2000 and the previous American iteration ran from 2000-2005; both featured largely white casts). Dunn and Moore's version is set in New Orleans and has several characters of color in its ensemble.  But the show's inclusiveness is not just about representation. "The biggest thing we kept coming back to was the idea of messiness in the queer community, and the idea that so often queer and trans representation is two dimensional in film and TV," Moore says. She takes issue with LGBTQ depictions being limited to best friend roles or as saints beyond reproach.

 "What we wanted to do was give our queer characters the dignity that we allow straight characters. They make mistakes and are still worthy of being at the center of the frame," she says, citing Mad Men's Don Draper, Breaking Bad's Walter White, and Scandal's Olivia Pope as examples.

The character of Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel) is particularly close to Moore's heart. "Her backstory is literally taken from my life," says Moore, who, like Ruthie, was a closeted trans girl who went to an all-boys Catholic high school. Says Keitel: "Jaclyn Moore is a daringly honest writer and true visionary with a collaborative, inclusive spirit that allowed me the freedom to thrive within Ruthie's chaos. Trans characters are seldom given the richness that is imbued in Ruthie and it's largely thanks to Jaclyn's personal relationship to my role and her need to center radically truthful storytelling." 

QUEER AS FOLK -- Episode 101 -- Pictured: Jesse James Keitel as Ruthie -- (Photo by: Peacock)
Credit: Peacock

For Moore, sharing parts of herself in Ruthie is both an honor and a challenge. "Sometimes it's like sharing your baby pictures with the world, which has a slightly different connotation for trans folks," Moore says. "It feels like you don't have any skin left, because you're sharing so much of your story, but the other side of that is it's deeply rewarding to tell these stories — and hopefully tell them honestly. It feels like an important argument to tell deeply human stories about queer and trans people in this moment where so many people are trying to dehumanize queer and trans people. It feels almost bigger than any one storyline."

Behind the scenes, it's just as important for Moore to establish a safe workplace and help create opportunities for her colleagues. "For me, that has always meant fostering an environment where anyone in the cast, on the crew, or in the writers' room feels safe to come to me with any issues that they're having and doing what I can to fix them," Moore says. She knows the industry has a lot of work to do in terms of representation, but one of her directives is that the Queer as Folk crew is as diverse as the show's cast, making it a priority to build up the careers of crew members from underrepresented communities. 

Moore's advocacy goes beyond her shows. In October 2021, she spoke out after Netflix's support of Dave Chappelle in the wake of his comedy special The Closer, which contained anti-transgender jokes. In response, Moore said she would no longer work with Netflix due to the streamer's continued association with Chappelle. "I continue to be very disappointed in the way Netflix has chosen to move forward," Moore says. "Netflix can say they want to make stories for everybody, but almost six months into the situation they continue to double and triple down."  

QUEER AS FOLK -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Executive Producer Jaclyn Moore
Credit: Matthias Clamer/Peacock

Moore believes the best way people in the industry can show support is to greenlight more queer and trans creators and stories. "More stories about trans people from trans people," she clarifies. "Where are the trans comedians' specials? If they want to make content for everyone, I'd love to see them put their money where their mouth is."

As for her own journey, Moore knows the risk she took when she transitioned in 2020 during a hiatus of Dear White People, but acknowledges she had the luxury of her previous achievements: "I transitioned at a point where I had already achieved some success. I had shown, in some ways, what I was able to do."

And she's encouraged by what others LGBTQ storytellers are doing too, highlighting the work of Our Lady J, Eleanor Jean, and Robin Tran, and the new Hulu film Fire Island. Moore is also incredibly proud that Simien is directing the upcoming film Haunted Mansion for Disney. "The fact that one of the most brilliant talented people period, but a gay Black man, is getting to tell that story on that scale is wonderful," she says.

Since her transition Moore feels "like I am so much more myself, and that has made me such a better writer, artist, producer, and person," and she is determined to help her fellow LGBTQ storytellers tell even more of their stories. "I don't want to pull the ladder up behind me," she says. "I want to build some stairs, an escalator, and an elevator."

Related content: