Janet Mock's Netflix deal broke a major glass ceiling for transgender women of color
As a bestselling author, TV director, and trans icon, Janet Mock has often made history throughout her decades-long career in media. And now, the 36-year-old is breaking yet another glass ceiling. As reported by Variety on June 19, Mock has landed a three-year, multimillion dollar contract with Netflix, making her the first out transgender woman of color with major creative control at a content company of that scale.
According to Variety, the deal gives Netflix exclusive rights to Mock's TV series and a first-look option on feature film projects. Projects already in development include an adaptation of Mock's 2014 memoir Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More; a drama about a young trans woman in college; and a reboot of an as-yet-unknown classic sitcom, likely with a progressive bent. Mock will also serve as executive producer and director on Ryan Murphy’s forthcoming original series Hollywood, which Murphy has described on Instagram as, "a love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown."
Speaking about the deal on Wednesday, Mock said that she plans to infuse her own lived experience as a trans woman of color into her work at Netflix, and use her platform to familiarize people with trans stories and the trans experience.
"84% of Americans say that they don't know and/or work with a trans person," Mock said in a video posted to Netflix's Strong Black Lead twitter account. "So there's potential now with Netflix's worldwide audience to introduce hundreds of millions of viewers to trans people, and showing people who may not understand us that we can tell our own stories."
Mock's prominent new position is a major step in the right direction when it comes to studios and networks prioritizing storytelling by and about people from marginalized communities — something the activist said that she never could've envisioned while growing up in the l980s and 1990s.
"As someone who grew up in front of the TV screen, whether that was watching talk shows or family sitcoms or VHS films, I never thought that I would be embraced,” Mock told Variety. “And more than embraced. Given not just a seat at the table but a table of my own making.”
And Mock's star is continuing to rise. Though her contract is exclusive to Netflix, she'll still get to keep working as a writer, producer and director on FX's Pose, the acclaimed drama set in New York's '80s ballroom community. Mock is also continuing her activism in the LGBTQ+ community, such as uplifting trans voices through methods like the #girlslikeus hashtag on Twitter that she started back in 2012.
"I want us to be fully ourselves, and hopefully in the process of sharing our most authentic selves, we’ll find like-minded sisters whom we can embrace and love and connect with," Mock wrote on her blog at the time. "Because it’s only in our connecting that we will be more powerful and ensure that our voices and our lives and our struggles and joys matter."
Since its start, the hashtag has been widely used to bring attention to trans women, a hallmark theme in Mock's expansive career. In her new role at Netflix, the mogul will surely keep supporting others and bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront.