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Earlier this year, Netflix released Julie’s Greenroom, a 13-episode kid’s show starring musical goddess Julie Andrews and muppets created by Jim Henson’s Workshop. The show has been hailed as groundbreaking, not only for introducing children to the world of theatre but also for its inclusion of a gender neutral muppet named Riley.
When asked about Riley and Andrews’ own LGBTQ allyship in a recent interview with The Advocate, Andrews said that she has always been an ally of the LGBTQ community:
“Theater, anyway, is such an open community and free. I don’t think there’s been a time when I haven’t been [an ally]…. In my hometown, in my community, I was very aware of bias and bigotry, and couldn’t understand it. I was raised not to be that way and not to think that way, and it always seemed puzzling to me that the world wasn’t just embracing human beings. But it’s never been something that I stumbled on. It’s just always been innate, thanks I think to the professions that I am in. But also the way I was raised.”
In the interview, Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton also say they especially wanted to create an arts show for children in an age where U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
“There’s no doubt that [the arts] help people understand each other and they transcend all barriers, and I cannot think of anything more important,” Andrews said. “They give so much joy and don’t really get in the way of anything [and lead to] getting on with a very wonderful, stimulating life.”
When asked about Trump’s rollback of bathroom protections for transgender and gender neutral students, Andrews said that she would want transphobic politicians to “Please keep an open mind. Please think.”
Andrews doesn’t actually have tons of LGBTQ social activism under her belt — she has always been a vocal supporter of the gay community and has worked for the HIV/AIDS organization Broadway Cares — but she has still solidified her place as a gay icon through her musical film roles which have established her as “a transgressive, subversive and life-changing force.”
For example, in Mary Poppins (Andrews’ major film debut), she doesn’t just play a sweet nanny, she helps the children assert themselves against their cold, miserly father. In The Sound of Music, she literally helps a family escape the oppressive Nazi regime, and in Victor/Victoria, she challenges an entire city’s notions of gender by assuming a role as a drag queen nightclub performer.