Degrassi is a show that has never been afraid to push boundaries, and no character represents that approach better than Adam Torres, television’s first scripted transgender teenager.
Adam has been on quite the journey this year, from refusing to lie about his identity in order to please others to even taking his first stab at being in a relationship. As the season as gone on and Adam’s role has developed, he has become a fan favorite, with many even saying that he’s one of the most normal guys on the show.
Jordan Todosey, the 16-year-old actor who plays him, is incredibly fond of her role as Adam. She talked with me about getting the role, how playing Adam has taught her more about her own gender, and what’s in store for Adam next season.
AfterEllen.com: How did you hear about the role of Adam and decide to audition for it?
Jordan Todosey: My agent sent me to the audition, which at that time was for an androgynous lesbian character named Zoe. It wasn’t until I was hired that I found out I’d be playing a transgender teen named Adam.
AE: What did you think when you found out you had been hired to play an Adam instead of a Zoe?
JT: It made the role more challenging that’s for sure! But at the end of the day, I’ve fallen in love with Adam and feel that I’ve been blessed to portray him.
AE: What about Adam, either in the casting process or since being cast, has drawn you toward him?
JT: It’s interesting getting to know a character. As the writers develop the plotlines, I get a sense of what I think would be going on inside Adam’s head. It’s as though Adam takes on a life of his own, and he’s a pretty cool kid! He’s incredibly brave and stands up for what he believes in, regardless of what he has to face in doing so. I absolutely love how at times he is clear and focused on what he wants but then suddenly his imperfections and awkwardness shows another side — just like a lot of guys I know.
AE: How did your friends and family react when you were cast in Degrassi?
JT: Most of them were supportive and have continued to be a source of strength for me. My parents have always encouraged me do whatever I chose to do with honesty and integrity.
AE: This role has required you to transform physically — for example, cutting your hair short. Has there been anything about that transformation that has been difficult for you?
JT: Cutting my hair! Other than that, photoshoots are probably the next hardest when I have to climb into my guy clothes and watch the other girls dressed up and get their hair and makeup done. In that sense, I can relate to how a transgender male to female might feel.
AE: After you were cast, how did you prepare for the role of Adam? Did you turn to anyone or anything in particular for inspiration in playing him?
JT:I used my guy friends and my brother as my muses.
AE: Are there any things you do every time you’re on set to help get into character?
JT: Putting on Adam’s clothes really helps, especially with the breast binding. Also just hanging with the guys on set helps get me into that mindset.
AE: Given that Adam is trans and you’re not, you’re clearly very different from him in many ways. What are some ways in which you think you’re similar?
JT: Adam and I both share a love for music and comics! This goes way back to when I was a kid with a microphone in one hand and an animé comic book in the other.
AE: What’s your favorite thing about playing Adam, and about Adam in general?
JT: I have always enjoyed a good challenge in acting and being able to diversify my acting to this extent is an incredible opportunity. Adam is such a great guy with a relevant story to tell.
AE: Which of Adam’s storylines from this season was your favorite?
JT: Of course “My Body is a Cage” episode stands out, as it really delves into Adam — who he is and where he has come from. It was thoroughly researched and incredibly well written, which made it a pleasure to perform.
AE: What would be your dream storyline for Adam?
JT: An “A plot” that has nothing to do with him being transgender would be interesting. I really want him to just be a guy and do something fun and daring with his guy friends. And yes, of course I want what all the fans want — for him to finally get the girl and have a great relationship with her. I think that’s what Adam would want too!
AE: Being the first scripted transgender teen character on television, Adam is without a doubt a unique character to have the chance to play. Are there any trans-specific storylines you’d like to see the show take on for him, or do you hope Adam gets the chance to be just another boy?
JT: I think my last answer speaks to that!
AE: I should admit that I’m a huge fan of you and of Adam, and I hope he has the chance to just be himself. I wonder, though, if you’ve felt any responsibility to represent trans teens, and if so, how you’ve dealt with that.
JT: Thanks! Yes, I’ve felt a huge responsibility to do Adam justice. I want him to be true to how a real transgender teen would be so that the transgender people in general can identify with Adam. I also want Adam to be likeable and fun so that teens won’t be intimidated by transgender classmates.
AE: What kinds of reactions have you gotten from fans of the show? Is there a fan-related moment that sticks out to you?
JT: I love my fans. They are like an extended family that graciously supports me along my path. For them to give of their own time by sending me beautiful letters, tweets and comments on my Youtube account overwhelms me with gratitude. I can’t possibly single out any one, as so many have touched my heart!
AE: How has playing Adam changed your outlook on life or helped you to discover more about yourself?
JT: Wow! Well first off I realize, more now than ever before, how much of a girl I really am! On a more serious note, it has given me a huge deal of respect for people who have had to pretend to enjoy the body and clothes that they are in — while they desperately want to be in something else. I can’t even imagine their struggle and I wish them success in finding peace and happiness.
AE: Any hints what Adam will be up to next season?
JT: Don’t you just wish I could spill it all? It’s safe to assume that Adam will be discovering more of the physical side of being FTM transgender.
Read our interview with Annie Clark (Fiona) and be sure to tune in for the first part of Degrassi: The Next Generation’s season 10 finale tonight to see if Adam makes an appearance.