• Film

Trace Lysette Confronts Her Past in the Movie “Monica” by Andrea Pallaoro

After participating in the movie Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, Trace Lysette returns to the big screen as the protagonist of Monica, by Andrea Pallaoro. It’s an intimate drama about a transgender woman who comes back home to take care of her dying mother. Abandonment and redemption are some of the themes that are tackled in this movie whose aim is to do justice to an issue that has been a constant target of exploitative approaches.


Following a preview screening in Los Angeles, Trace Lysette came on stage and expressed how interesting she finds it, that despite “all the hateful legislation going on around transgender issues, a movie like this is premiering right now. It’s a crazy time for trans people at the moment. This is the first movie where you get to see a trans woman doing the most ordinary things. There are no preachy moments. Actually, my favorite part of the film is that shot where Monica is sitting on the deck with a baby in her lap. We get to see a trans woman being maternal. It’s special to get to see her do the most simple things. All the movie happens through her lens.”

Having had a redemption family story of her own, Trace Lysette added that she always tries to find a bridge between her personal life and the character she is playing. For Monica, “ it was easy. I had gone through a very similar situation. I had been estranged from my mother for a while, for the same reasons. However, we managed to reconnect when I understood that she did the best she could, at the time. There was a very different tool kit, back in the 80s and 90s. All I had to do for this character was get acquainted with the shell of Monica. The heart was already there.”

After working in non-transgender roles, Lysette came out publicly as trans through her role as Shea on the Amazon series Transparent, in 2014. The actress has become one of the most active spokespeople in the world on the topic of transgender issues. This worldwide visibility has made her aware of the importance she has in moving the discussion forward. Hence, the importance of a movie like Monica. Lysette adds: “It’s very rare to have a trans character in a protagonist role. I was very surprised when I read Monica’s script for the first time. Also, the material was good. I said I still had some notes (laughter), but I knew it was good. It was real and honest.”

Originally from Ohio, Trace Lysette moved to New York City after high school in search of a new beginning. Having struggled financially after her gender transition, she managed to survive as a stripper in the city. Meanwhile, following a good friend’s advice, she saved some money and started to invest in acting classes. Her television debut was a guest appearance as Lila in an episode of Law & Order. An auspicious beginning for someone who would then rise and be heard everywhere from the Hollywood community to all around the world.

After premiering at the Venice film festival, last year. Monica premieres next week in theaters in the USA.