Jamie Clayton on the sexuality of “Sense8” and Nomanita’s bond

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Jamie Clayton said she was spoiled with Nomi on Sense8 being her first big role.

“I’m thrilled. Beyond words, I’m thrilled. I’m honored. I‘m so pleased. I’m so happy. What are more words like this?” she said during a Netflix day at TCA on Tuesday.

Premiere Of Netflix's "Sense8" - Arrivals

The actress spoke about playing a trans character whose story had nothing to do with her gender identity, and how that alone is revolutionary in entertainment today.

“There has never been a trans character in a movie or on a show before whose story did not revolve around transition,” Jamie said. “Nomi is the first. Her story has nothing to do with the fact that she’s trans. She just is. And she’s living her life, and she’s in love, and she has a job, and she’s a whole complete person who is then thrust into this amazing cluster. And no one cares because, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t care that she’s trans. It doesn’t matter. She’s a human being. Woo!”

That kind of progress is due to Lana Wachowski, the out trans co-creator of Senes8 who Jamie said used her own life experience to create the character of Nomi.

“Nomi is such a reflection of what Lana has been through in her life and Lana is with a woman, I think that for her it just sort of echoed that and ‘write what you know,'” Jamie said in a roundtable post-panel. “And so for her, it was very personal.”

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Jamie said she always had a feeling that Lana would be the one to give her her break (“I knew in my gut that if I was ever going to have an opportunity this big in Hollywood, that it was going to be Lana that was going to do it.  And man, she frickin’ did it.”) and spoke about how special it was to work on a show written and directed by a trans woman.

“I knew, going into the project, that I would be protected and represented in a way that trans people have never been represented before on television,” Jamie said. “The experience was overwhelmingly positive, and I’ve never felt, you know, as safe on set. I trusted the Ws [the Wachowskis, Lana and her brother Andy] and JMS [co-creator J. Michael Straczynski] and everyone explicitly. I was willing to do anything that they wanted me to do. And I love Nomi. I love the character. I think that she really represents something that we haven’t seen before, which is what the whole show represents. It’s empathy. And these people come together to help each other, and it doesn’t matter that they don’t speak the same language, look like each other. It doesn’t matter their gender or their sexuality. It’s empathy.”

Nomi is so many things outside of her gender identity. She’s a hacker, a loving partner to her girlfriend, Amanita, and, as she comes to find out, a Sense8. She’s also someone who has felt very much alone in her life until meeting Amanita, which we see in a flashback in the very first episode, in which Amanita defends Nomi from her transphobic friends.

“That flashback scene, I think, was really important, because it establishes something about Nomi so that the audience can get to know where she was coming from in her life,” Jamie said. “That one line—’No one’s ever defended me before’—for Nomi to say that—and then we come back into present day and they’re doing the pot brownies before Pride, and Nomi says, “That’s the day that I knew I would always love you.” You know for them to find each other in that way and sort of establish with Nomi where she was coming from, how important support and unconditional love is in a relationship.”

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Jamie said she was thrilled when she found out Freema Agyeman was cast as Amanita.

“I was so happy. Happy it was her and then when we met, we actually liked other,” Jamie said. “We loved each other and the chemistry was there and people are really seeing that.”

On a show where most of the relationships are dysfunctional, Nomi and Amanita’s stands strong.

“It’s unconditional, it’s support, it’s love. They’re having sex,” Jamie said. But it’s not like they are treated with kid gloves. “They’ve got the secret when Nomi meets up with Bug and is like, ‘I took the fall for him.’ Amanita’s not really happy with that. They have their moments, but they’re there for each other through thick and thin. And, oh god, I love it.”

Netflix has yet to announce if they are picking Sense8 up for a second season, but Jamie remains optimistic. However, if anything in the script looks like Nomanita will be breaking up, she won’t be having it.

“If they did that, I would be so heartbroken,” Jamie said. “I’d literally be like ‘Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe.'”

Although Sense8 has had it’s fair share of viewers complaining about its sexuality, Jamie is hopeful that the conversations the show has inspired will lead to introspection among critics.

“I think it’s important we have these talks because I think we’re showing people that it’s ridiculous we’ve having these talks. I mean, I would hope so,” Jamie said. “It’s so strange to me that when you see sex on TV that’s not happening between a white man and a white woman, that all of a sudden, ‘This show is all about sexuality!’ And it’s interesting to me—I hope that people are listening to themselves when they say things like that and they’re going back and thinking, ‘Wait!’ We’re showing you the world that we all live in. Every single one of us live in this world and we’re just showing you the world.”

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