If art imitates life, then “The Bold and the Beautiful” definitely pulled inspiration from America’s booming transgender rights movement this spring when the series debuted its first black transgender female character, Maya Avant, to be included in the regular cast.
The character of Maya was originally created in 2013 and written as an ex-con turned actress and model with a troubled past and a popular love affair with character Rick Forrester (Jacob Young). But this year, the show’s writers took Maya down a shocking path when it was revealed that she had been assigned male at birth before transitioning into a woman as a young adult.
For soap veteran Karla Mosley, 33, landing the role of Maya has not only helped shine a spotlight on her talent, but it’s also made her a rising LGBT ally.
Recently, Mosley spoke with rolling out about her groundbreaking year in TV and explained what she loves about playing Maya.
How did you feel about playing Maya?
Maya has always been a dynamic character. I love playing her and this only added depth to her already complicated personality. It was a true gift. She is a woman who will stand up for herself and fight for the people she loves no matter what. Sometimes that gets her into trouble, but it always comes from a place of love.
Were transgender people involved in the writing of the character?
One of our head writers, Patrick Mulcahey has been working with the trans community, specifically the homeless youth community, in San Francisco for years. We also have been partnering closely with GLAAD.
How has the transgender community responded to you and Maya?
I have received incredible support from the transgender community. Messages from fans who have started watching our show and say that they see themselves reflected on screen. Also, transgender actors and activists have been supportive, which is incredibly humbling and gratifying.
How important do you think it is to see not only a trans character on TV, but to see one who is also African American?
Incredibly important. In 2015 alone we have learned about the brutal murders of at least 12 transgender people — the majority were trans women of color. So, to see the story of a trans woman who is in a happy interracial relationship and currently positioned to be the next matriarch of the main family is groundbreaking to say the least.
After carrying such a pivotal storyline, do you feel like roles are expanding for black women in film and TV?
Certainly on our show. Not only is my character taking the lead, but also Maya’s sister Nicole, played by Reign Edwards, is now front and center. And I think this is the first time in our show’s history that an African-American family had been featured with the addition of Anna Maria Horseford and Obba Babatunde as Maya’s parents. It’s very exciting.
And yet, we have recently seen statistics out of UCLA that there is a 7 to 1 ratio of actors of color to white actors. And a 9 to 1 ratio for show creators. So, while things are in some ways better than they used to be, we still have a ways to go. We must continue to fight to have our wide range of stories told.
“The Bold and the Beautiful” airs weekdays at 1:30 p.m. EST on CBS.