By Timothy Rawles
Zoey Luna is an actress experiencing the latter part of a Hollywood metamorphosis. Tinsel Town is becoming more woke, as the buzz word goes, and stars like Zoey, who happens to be transgender, are finding that their silver screen dreams can come true despite a hazy rainbow spectrum.
The Craft: Legacy, the highly anticipated sequel to the 1996 original, was released in late October and one thing that made it truly groundbreaking was casting Zoey as a trans witch who is part of a high school coven. Hollywood is becoming less duplicitous in its casting calls and that’s something young hopefuls are excited about.
It wasn’t that long ago when cis men and women were playing trans characters instead of trans people telling their own stories. Actresses such as Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, and Dominique Jackson changed that with their activism and persistence.
Now movies such as The Craft: Legacy are creating narratives that include LGBTQ characters organically. Some may criticize the film’s treatment of bisexuality, but as far as trans representation, creators have synced with the right side of entertainment history.
More than 20 years ago the original “Craft” came out. It would be five years later that Zoey would be born. The iconic horror film became a representation of teen angst and was embraced by the LGBTQ community for its chronicle of pubescent teens who feel “different.”
Zoey admits she tried to watch the first one but wasn’t impressed at first, mainly because of, “Robin Tunney’s outrageous wig,” Zoey chuckles. “It just wasn’t for me until I got the audition, then I saw it while I was in the process of getting a role, so then I loved it and I looked past the wig — I grew up; matured a little.”
The sequel plays a little with storyline parallels to the first film. One might think director Zoe Lister-Jones was paying homage to the original, but Zoey sees past that and points out the distinctions.
“I think it’s different in the sense you know: Style-wise, camera-wise, you know visually it’s a very different film that I think a lot of the OG fans will notice when they’re watching the trailer. I think that a lot of fans who may not have seen it yet, or seen it depending on when this interview comes out, I think that they need to understand that the original Craft is still there; that was their movie and this could also be their movie. It’s just a timely, different world that we’re living in now and I feel like it’s kind of embracing the fact that teenage friendships don’t necessarily have to be such a rivalry; they don’t have to be a competition.”
Speaking about trans representation on screen, Zoey does see the landscape changing. She shudders when thinking about the film 3 Generations, or Jared Leto playing a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club. She hopes the industry is changing, but those are slow in coming.
“I think you know everything takes time,” she said. “I hope that they are starting to understand that trans women are more than capable to play trans roles.”
“Also, you know,” she adds, “I’m on a film now that I’m not even playing a trans role. I think it’s important because as trans women we are women so I feel like we’re more than qualified to portray women roles that are not just, you know trans, and I think can bridge into cis roles. It’s perfect and it’s good and I like it. I like that we are being offered roles that aren’t around our gender identity because our lives are not just a gender Ted Talk,” she chuckles over the phone.
The road to pursuing an acting career was sort of thanks to Demi Lovato, says Zoey. The show Sonny With a Chance stars Lovato as a young comedian cast in a sketch comedy show. The short-lived Disney sitcom had a profound impact on the up and coming star.
Zoey’s parents weren’t always home and the allure of Sonny’s adventures in Hollywood seemed the perfect primer for the actress as far as what to expect in the business. “So I kind of watched the show but learned a lot about the ins and outs, and I feel like I was the product of my generation—Gen Z. I’ve always wanted to be an actress that’s just where I’ve felt more comfortable in my life, also because I’m a Leo.”
Fast-forward to her role as Lourdes in The Craft and some of that knowledge was definitely a blessing. Her skill is slowly becoming under shadowed by the fact that she is transgender. The question remains though: Does Zoey want to be forever labeled as a trans actress, or an actress who happens to be trans? It’s a tough one to answer.
“I’m constantly debating in my own inner dialogue in my head about that,” she explains. “Whether it’s a type of positive inclusion considering that I’m a trans actress, and that’s my title forever, or if it’s kind of a way of segregating. You know I think Tyler the Creator approached it so perfectly when he said that it was an honor receiving a Grammy, but it was also like a huge setback because it was also considered under the ‘urban’ category for his music, and how he said that he feels, personally, the word ‘urban’ is a way to say the hard-‘r’ n-word. He said that kind of perfectly. I think that it’s going to take a lot of thinking, but I also think that it’s inspirational and it’s also like a step back. I feel like it might be a little bit of acknowledging the person’s identity, but it also might be a little bit of segregation still.”
Her character Lourdes in the film has some similarities to her in real life. Although a lot of the character’s backstory was left on the cutting room floor, Zoey says the parallels were something with which she could identify and used in her portrayal.
“I remember in the casting call it was: ‘Lourdes is a punk, trans, Latino witch, and she was kicked out of her home by her mom.’ I kinda really related to that because my mom — publicly she was very supportive of my trans identity but something the media doesn’t like to cover too much, even though I constantly explain it in interviews, is that I was kicked out at seventeen-years-old by my mother because of a family situation that she chose to take sides — I guess with her choice of family member — so I was kicked out at seventeen, and I really understood where Lourdes was coming from and her---I guess in a way--her protective characteristics. She’s all about boundaries and all about guarding herself I feel.”
Whether The Craft: Legacy becomes a commercial success, or not, remains to be seen. But Zoey is already accepting other roles. She explains that her agency is all about representing trans people in the most respectful way.
“Right now, they are opening a division for transgender music talent and so we’re both closely working on that together. I am in a musical now. It’s a new project called Dear Evan Hanson, we’ll be filming soon, hopefully —COVID.”
Acting and music aren’t the only things Zoey is trying to master. She is also a writer.
“I’m writing my life all the time,” she tells me before we hang up. “I’m writing kind of a documentary about it — or maybe a screenplay, who knows?”