Wentworth push for authenticity

"I’m personally sick of seeing Cisgender people playing transgender roles," says Zoe Terakes.

Jane Hall, Kate Box, Zoe Terakes

 Wentworth will push boundaries when it returns to Foxtel in 2020.

Actor Zoe Terakes (Janet King, The End) joins Jane Hall (Neighbours, House Husbands) and Kate Box (Upright, Les Norton, Rake) as new cast members for Season 8, currently filming in Melbourne.

Terakes plays Reb Keene, depicted as a transgender male, romantically linked to Lou Kelly (Kate Box).

“I identify as non-binary,” Terakes said. “So I’ve played non-binary before in a short film. But I’ve never played a transgender male. I’m very comfortable with it. I feel more like that than I do a girl.

“I’m personally sick of seeing Cisgender people playing transgender roles. It’s not ok in my book.

“Personally, when I watch it I don’t believe it. They’ve done their research but that’s all.”

Whether actors are entitled to act straight, gay and trans is an evolving question in an industry that is built on portrayal and masks. But Terakes is adamant.

“Until a trans woman can go for every role that Jane can go for, then it’s not fair, because there are so few (trans) roles.

“Whenever I see a gay person play gay or trans play trans, I feel so represented. That just doesn’t happen when I watch someone act it.”

Jane Hall, who started in The Henderson Kids at 10 just as the original Prisoner was concluding, will play general manager Ann Reynolds -another Prisoner heritage character but with a new twist.

“She’s in charge of Wentworth and all the prisoners. She’s sort of like head of corrections, having been headhunted from London where she managed to successfully manage a prison there,” said Hall.

“She comes in basically to clean up the wreck of the siege and get Wentworth back to a strong financial position. To do that she is very hardline, very right-wing and not pro-prisoners. She’s pretty ruthless. She’ll do whatever it takes to get things back on track.

“I was desperate to get it. I wanted so badly to be in this show. I’m not just a superfan, I’m enamoured of the actors and the writing. As a woman who is nearly 50, I don’t see any other programme around that is being owned and dominated by female characters.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I really needed it. I was really gunning for it. I fought and fought.”

Terakes, 19, agrees Wentworth represents an amazing opportunity for actors.

“When you talk to the others on the show they say the reason it’s so good is because you’re not playing somebody’s wife or girlfriend. You’re playing the roles that blokes have got to play for years….. you’re not an archetype. Not just a whore or virgin.

“Reb’s pretty cool. He’s a trans guy. He’s kind of not what you’d expect as a person in prison. He’s quite timid and gentle. But he goes in with the love of his life.

“He’s shit-scared.”

Wentworth returns to FOX Showcase in 2020.

(*Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.)

9 Responses

  1. The only time I get annoyed by an actor playing gay is when said actor is only doing it because they want to win an Oscar or whatever. For example, after Heath Ledger played gay in Brokeback Mountain, everyone wanted to play gay when he did it first. Also, the whole non binary thing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Either you’re trans or you’re not in most cases, and a girl occasionally dressing like a guy doesn’t make them special, sorry.

  2. No shit, Sherlock. But representation does matter. As a deaf person, I get annoyed that deaf characters played by hearing (that’s what we call them “abled” or “norm” people) actors when their sign skills are totally wrong, and their reaction also wrong. The movie Hush is a perfect example of misrepresentation. Those people who praised the actress’s performance in Hush know nothing about what is it like to being a deaf person. LOL! Don’t make me laugh.

  3. That is a good point about trans people not getting cis roles. It does limit their opportunities especially if they have to compete with cis people for the few trans roles.

  4. I started reading this interview with the opinion that I’d never have a problem with a trans-character being played by someone who is trans or cis (Socratis Otto did a marvellous job as Maxine a couple of years ago), but Zoe is totally right to call out the fact that trans and non-binary actors are not being cast in cis-roles so it is imbalanced. There is a Netflix show called Another Life which starred a non-binary actor (Aussie JayR Tinaco) as a non-binary character, whose sexuality so it seems like whilst there is some bold movements going on in the TV landscape right now, it Aussies making their mark in this area.

    At the end of the day, this casting as well as the delicious reinvention of Anne Reynolds makes me just as excited for the next season as any other. And people said the show couldn’t survive without Bea…

    1. so zoe is non binary and is personally sick of seeing cisgender playing transgender yet is ok play the role , shouldnt zoe want a male transgender actor to play the role also its acting

      1. I do not care who plays a LGBTI role as long as it done with respect. Using the argument she uses I could say only a ex prisoner should be playing a prisoner in Wentworth. I disagree with her opinion completely. This will not put me off watching the next two seasons of Wentworth.

  5. Isn’t acting playing something or someone that you are not. John Jarrett doesn’t seem like a serial killer in real life. And Harrison Ford isn’t really from a galaxy far far away.

    I thought Socratis Otto did a great job with Maxine.

    If this is the direction Wentworth is going I might give the last 2 seasons a miss.

    1. I wouldn’t miss the end of the series over one person’s opinion. This is why it’s probably a bad idea for actor’s to get too political, because they end up alienating half their fan base.

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