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Warning: May Contain Feelings

Watch Cloud Atlas, The Matrix Director Lana Wachowski’s Moving Speech About Growing up Transgender

Last Saturday saw Lana Wachowski, one of the directors of the Matrix trilogy and the upcoming Cloud Atlas, give a speech at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala on the subject of growing up transgender. Parts of it are hard to watch—her recollections of being beaten for not joining a line of boys at school and of a later near-suicide attempt, specifically—but don’t let that stop you. The entire speech is incredibly moving and worth your time.

The Wachowskis are notoriously camera-shy directors—they’ve not done press for any of their movies since The Matrix in 1999—so it’s not just Lana’s strength and perseverance in regards to her gender that’s admirable, but also the fact that she left behind her treasured anonymity, even for one evening, to share her experiences with others. Says Wachowski, “I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value.”

For those who’d rather read the speech than watch it, The Hollywood Reporter has a complete transcript.

(via: Jezebel)

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  • Kash Mitaukano

    I really love how every single media outlet including the Mary Sue totally glosses over the fact that Cloud Atlas uses yellow face unapologetically and you all excuse it, where’s the article on the racism portrayed in this movie?

    Yeah you guys never made one, freaking bunch of hypocrites.

  • Jenn W

    I think it’s wonderful that Lana has changed her stance on speaking publicly. Her story is one that should be heard and I’m glad that she is being recognized for being true to herself.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    We just heard about the controversy today actually, and mentioned it in Things We Saw:

    Thanks for reading!

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Also, not one of us has “excused it.” We’d appreciate if you didn’t make assumptions like that.

  • Anonymous

    While I will not be supporting Cloud Atlas, I think it is amazing of her to put herself out there like this. That takes a lot of courage.

  • Kash Mitaukano

    Things we saw doesn’t usually have the most content (i.e it’s generally just fun), but I’m totally cool with being wrong I just feel it deserves a full article not a blurb in “things we saw” that’s where you generally put your fun stuff not hard hitting stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I can see the need to want this story out more…but it is their blog. From my experience, there’s at least one serious article in their Things We Saw Today, which is why I always check it.

  • SarahAndrea Royce

    I heard Lanas great speech yesterday, and it was the first time I ever heard of the movie, and thus its not surprising I never heard of that yellow facing accusations.
    But after reading your comment I googled it, and I think its an overreaction, because in the context of the story it not only makes sense but is outright antiracist. The same actors play different incarnations over time and varying widley on the spectrum of humanity be it race or gender – keeping the same actor helps the audience to recognize them.
    OK, its sad that the makeup reminds more of Mickey Roonie, and I think with modern 3D Technologies there could have been better ways, especially since the Wachowski siblings are famous for their groundbraking use of technology in Matrix, but thats more a question of the quality of makeup and not of racial issues.
    When you see my avatarpicture its my avatar in Second Life, I’m actually caucasian in RL. So I’m yellowfacing, too? I actually put a lot of thought in that when I created it and asked around. To my great relief, no one was offended by my choice.

  • Anonymous

    Having a non-white Avatar in an online discussions is SO not the same thing as making a multi-million dollar movie where you have pasty Englishmen dressed up in bad Yellowface make-up so that they look Korean.

    The antiracism thing is nonsense. Yes, it’d be great to live in a world where racism doesn’t exist and race doesn’t matter, but we don’t. Things like Yellowface still have a long, gross history in Hollywood, and today there are still very few acting roles available to Asian Americans. The guy in the Hollywood Reporter sums it up perfectly:

    Sturgess’ role could have been a cool, non-stereotypical role given that Asian American actors are usually typecast as nerds or buffoons. Instead we have some white English boy dressed up like Mickey Rooney.

  • Brian Buckler

    Great speech, but now it’s time to learn how to cast Asians.

  • Maricruz Villalobos Zamora

    So Lana Wachowski is just Trans? This is why you have to speak up, so people can know your story instead of making up weird rumors

  • Kash Mitaukano

    So it’s okay to put pull back your eyes and say “I’m an Asian!” why don’t we just allow minstrel show’s again? Hell let’s remake Birth of a Nation with another all white cast! Why not cast an Asian person to PLAY AN ASIAN. If he were black you could cast someone black, EVERYONE would cry foul. Having an online picture of an Asian character as your avatar is completely and utterly DIFFERENT. I’m multiracial here and I’m sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable that I am angry about this but I have a dang good reason to be mad because people like you DO NOT SEE WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS!!

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Why won’t you be supporting Cloud Atlas? Is there anything the public should know about it? Or does it just hold no interest for you?

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Whoa. I didn’t know there was someone in yellow face in it. Where did you find this out?

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I thought the movie had different actors for each ‘body’, not the same actors playing different races throughout time. Yikes!!!!

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I just read up on Cloud Atlas and a commentator elsewhere put it well”
    “The issue is not actors of one race playing a character belonging to
    another race. The issue, plain and simple, is access to jobs – deserving
    actors of color who are not cast into “non-race specific” parts simply
    because casting directors, agents or filmmakers are not prepared to see
    people of color in certain roles. In CLOUD ATLAS, we are asked to
    examine the souls of people; their inner selves. If we are to believe
    our souls are colorless then it should not be a question of the same
    actor playing different races across time. It should be different actors
    playing the same soul. Neither impossible nor improbable, by the way.
    Hollywood has done such a thing before.”

  • SarahAndrea Royce

    I never said its OK to cast asian roles with white actors. I said I see how the idea to keep one and the same actor behind different reincarnations with different genders and different races is another thing and the point that everyone gets to be each combination sometime is good food for thought against racism.

    I brought the avatar up mainly because I did not want to imply I have a northeastasian background when it may be important in this context.

  • niki

    Why is Cloud Atlas getting so much hate here? I thought it’s a pretty deep & meaningful movie, with lots of ‘hidden truths/messages’, FYI.

    from Indonesia