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Arts and Entertainment

First-Ever Oscar Campaign For Transgender Actresses Launches For 'Tangerine' Stars

Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez hang out in the Donut Time at Santa Monica and Highland in 'Tangerine'. (Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
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An Oscar campaign is being launched for the stars of the indie film Tangerine, making it the first time Hollywood has made a serious awards push for transgender actresses.Kitana Kiki Rodriguez will be put up for consideration as Best Actress while her co-star Mya Taylor will be backed for Best Supporting Actress. The campaign got its start when Jay and Mark Duplass, who are credited as executive producers on the film, launched it on Tuesday night at an Academy event featuring the brothers. "It seems that the TV Academy has embraced what's happening in the trans movement with Transparent and Orange Is The New Black," Mark Duplass told Variety. "We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front."

"This is the time for it," said Duplass. "We're in the middle of a civil rights movement."

Cisgender actors have controversially been nominated and awarded by the Oscars for their roles as transgender individuals, most recently with Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. In 2014, the Emmys nominated Laverne Cox, making her the first transgender performer to be nominated in an acting category.

The film centers on a day in the life of two sex workers around the intersection of Santa Monica and Highland in Hollywood. Director Sean Baker told LAist that he met Rodriguez and Taylor at a local LGBT center.

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Tangerine distributor Magnolia Pictures will be sending screeners to voters, making it the first time a distributor has supported a campaign for a transgender actress. "The trans aspect will undoubtedly garner the film attention, but frankly the best strategy is to get as many voters to see it as possible," said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. "It stands alone among the contenders in its tone, aspirations and achievement."

Aside from acting bids for its two lead actresses, Tangerine also hopes to get nominations for its script and cinematography. Notably, the whole film was shot on the iPhone 5s.