Josie Totah, an actor who starred on the Mindy Kaling sitcom Champions and previously appeared in shows like Glee, has just come out as a trans woman. Totah wrote a personal essay for Time magazine talking about her journey and her decision to publicly come out.
In her essay, “My Name Is Josie Totah — And I’m Ready to Be Free,” Totah describes how though many people just assumed she was a gay boy, she previously publicly identified as “LGBTQ.” But she knew she was a girl since she was 5, telling her mother to give her a dress. But it was the Jazz Jennings reality series I Am Jazz that made Totah realize transitioning was an option.
She wrote, “I looked over at [my mother] in the middle of the show and said, ‘This is me. I’m transgender. And I need to go through this.’ My mother, who is immensely supportive and gracious, said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ Three days later I was meeting with my pediatrician, who referred me to a specialist, who put me on a hormone blocker. From that point on, I hit the ground running.”
Totah, who previously acted under her initials, J.J. Totah, broke out after her role on the Disney Channel sitcom Jessie. From there she went on to star in her own sitcom, Back in the Game, for ABC, and appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Glee, 2 Broke Girls and more.
Though Champions, Totah’s latest series, was cancelled by NBC on June 29, the show was a critical hit. Josie Totah’s acting was particularly singled out for praise. The New York Times said she was “superb” and her “comic energy is astoundingly well-calibrated.” Likewise, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that she had “exceptional skills.”
Totah says that though she’s going off to college this week, she will continue acting. She wrote, “And I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy. I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate — and a new world.”