The upcoming episode of STAR will ruffle a few feathers, both in a good and bad manner. Wednesday’s installment will tackle issues surrounding transgender persons, and if you’re familiar with Lee Daniel’s work, you can suspect that it will be eye-opening and uncomfortable to many.
“This has never been shot, done, or put on television,” Tyrese says on a conference call. “It would be considered an exorcism of some sort where we have this transgender woman, name Cotton, being played by Amaiya…she actually went through this in real life.”
We will have to wait until the episode airs to know what “this” means, but according to Tyrese, who has made several guest appearances on sitcoms as himself before his TV debut in STAR, “I had no idea that I was going to end up doing something so uncomfortable.”
Tyrese plays Pastor Harris on the show; he is single with three kids after going through “a nasty divorce from my ex-wife.” He ends up mentoring and taking care of a woman by the name of Carlotta, played by Queen Latifah, and in the mix of all their interactions, they fall for each other.
While Pastor Harris was getting to know Carlotta, she maintained a secret life, one being her daughter Cotton, who is really her son, who became a woman.
“I have never interacted, directly communicated or befriended a transgender,” says Tyrese. “It’s not the kind of circles I travel in; I am a heterosexual male. Although I have worked with plenty of Gay and Lesbian people.”
He continued: “I’m one of those people that’s a huge advocate of people living their lives according to what makes them happy. If you live your life within people’s opinion, it’s the beginning of the end.”
Tyrese admits that he doesn’t have a problem with transgenders and that his first communication with a transgender came on the show. He says the upcoming episode will give nontransgender people a better understanding of that world and culture.
“It was uncomfortable to shoot it, and it’s going to be uncomfortable for people to watch it, and I think it’s going to give people empathy and a heart for a world that they probably never cared about at all,” says Tyrese.
“I think that no matter what I do, it’s going to be looked at as polarizing,” Lee Daniels adds. “That’s the world that I tell story in. The truth is polarizing; it’s unsettling.”
Comparing the episode to the trash can scene on his hit TV show Empire, Daniel adds, “This is that defining moment that we as African Americans don’t address.”
Tune into Fox on Wednesday night at 9pm EST for the POWERFUL and CONTROVERSIAL episode of #STAR.
Watch Tyrese discuss star on The Wendy Williams show: