Jen Richards on helping queer trans women come to light on “I Am Cait”

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If you’ve seen the trailblazing series I Am Cait featuring a fearless Caitlyn Jenner spotlighting the woman who was once the epitome of masculinity in American culture, then you may have noticed the well-spoken confidant that she has in out queer and trans writer/actor/activist Jen Richards.

BcnxivlNphotos by Zoe Logan

Jen, who dates both men and women, masterfully and delicately elevates the conversation on episodes 2 and 3 of the E! reality series, carrying as much grace in her body as she does in her smile. She often interjects tidbits off screen to a smiling Caitlyn, who earnestly redirects her words in a more enlightened way. You can tell they both are there for all the right reasons. 

Jen quickly went from turning down the opportunity to meet Cailtyn on reality television to eventually agreeing to a one-time dinner, to being excited about the project enough to accept an invitation to be a series regular. Even better, Jen now counts Caitlyn as a friend.

We sat down for an honest and frank interview with Jen about her experience on the show, what it’s like to work in the shadow of the Kardashian empire, and what Caitlyn Jenner is like outside of the spotlight.

AE: First off congratulations on I Am Cait. It’s huge and it’s doing so much good.

Jen Richards: Thank you!

 

AE: How did you get hooked up into that experience?

JR: I was on a short-list of people that they wanted to call for the show, they were familiar with my work, but because I lived in Chicago it wasn’t an option. Then there’s a trans guy from the Bunim/Murray Productions team follows me on Twitter who saw that I was in LA. He reached out and asked if I would be interested in having dinner with Cait. And I said no.

 

AE: [Laughs] What! Why?!

JR: I was really suspicious—or skeptical—about a reality show, basically, and I didn’t want to be a part of reality television. Particularly not with the team that did Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But I said I’d be happy to talk with Cait, just off camera. So we went back and forth, and the person who reached out to me is himself a trans guy, so that created this opening for me because I could talk with him more openly and honestly, and I was assured it was being handled really well on their side.

 

AE: Right.

JR: So that started opening my mind a little bit. Then Cait called me directly and we talked for a little on the phone and she really won me over. She is just a really sweet and genuine person and I completely trusted her intentions. So I went over there and had dinner with the girls, which you saw on the show, too.

 

AE: Wait, So when you went to dinner that was really your first time walking in and seeing Cait and meeting everybody?

JR: Yup, that was all true and live.

 

AE: Wow!

JR: Yes and I didn’t recognize her when I came in because the pictures hadn’t come out yet. I only knew who she was because I knew all the other girls in the room and it was process of elimination.  I said, “Okay, this must be Cait!”

  

AE: So you didn’t recognize her?

JR: No! I mean look at the pictures of her. Would you have recognized her? She looks amazing.

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