An interview with actress Hailie Sahar
Hailie Sahar rose to fame for her role in the Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated TV series, Pose. The show made history by featuring the largest cast of trandgender actors in series regular roles on television. Our founder, Bianca Rae, interviews her about her journey to self discovery.
Bianca Rae: At what age as a young boy did you start feeling 'maybe this isn’t exactly who I am'?
Hailie Sahar: I’ve never identified with being a boy. I’ve always felt I was who I am today. It is cis-people who labeled me as a boy growing up and tried to make me conform to that ideology. But that has never been my personal understanding of myself. I think labels keep us in a non-progressive stage of development as a human race, and I’ve even found myself having to use labels to convey conversations as I navigate throughout my platforms. However, it is not something I agree with or something I think is healthy to fully understand one’s existence.
BR: Put into words some of the feelings you remember experiencing around that time.
HS: I remember feeling that the world around me was so far behind in their understanding of me, and that this world was not cut out for me -- that I would have to carve out my own direction and blueprint. I was going to have to fight with my intellect to help others understand what was always naturally understood by me.
BR: At what age did you transition, and how do you recall feeling that very first day?
HS: I don’t remember the exact age I was when I transitioned, but I was a teenager when I started my journey. I felt slightly afraid of what the world's reaction might be, but also more courageous than ever to live authentically and happily for the first time as my truth.
BR: Did you experience bullying for being honest about your truth, and if so, how did you personally overcome it?
HS: I think I’ve always experienced some level of bullying throughout my life, from some of my family and strangers around me. I overcame bullying by standing up for myself. I am distancing myself from anything negative and also occupying my space with love and things that make me happy from within. With that, I became much more confident in my own skin.
BR: You are very blessed to have a mother who is supportive, but unfortunately not every child has that. What is your best advice to a young person when it comes to to finding a mentor and finding confidence if they don’t have that support at home?
HS: Yes, I have had the support of my mother, yet I have not always had the support of my father or certain members of my family. So I know what the absence of a parent or a family member feels like, and to that I would suggest finding chosen family. When I was very young I found the ballroom community, and I found my chosen sisters who ultimately became my family. One's chosen family is a huge part of living as a person with the trans experience, because too often blood relatives disown their own children and family members due to ignorance and hatred toward their LGBTQ+ relatives.
BR: What advice would you give young children who are confused about their identity or orientation?
HS: I would suggest taking your time and truly pay attention to how you feel inside your heart. Once you know who you are from within, I would suggest to own that feeling, accept that feeling and be proud of who you are, because you are perfect just the way you are -- no matter what anyone else says. It is everyone’s God-given right to experience life the way they want. Life is too short as it is. It’s meant to be happy. We need to let people be happy.
BR: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that it might have been more difficult to open up about one’s true sexuality and identity in the past, and fit into society’s white-picket fence norms and expectations. Right now, it feels like we live in a world where anything is possible, people are applauded for standing up for their truth and what is right. How can that give young people the confidence to be themselves today?
HS: I believe the true ice breaker to anybody feeling confident enough to live and express as themselves starts with the adults of this world. Until we stop creating a toxic social society for our youth, we can’t expect them to feel the support needed to live freely as a person of the LGBTQ+ experience. We all need to come together as the human race and simply uplift and love each other. Our youth needs our full hearts and understanding, because life itself will be hard enough as it is. I also believe that we need to visually see more Trans representation on a much larger scale. Visibility matters, because within visibility you can then believe in the endless possibilities.
BR: We love watching you in Pose on FX! You’re a star. What’s in the works for you?
HS: I’m currently stepping into producing and taking on the iconic role of Sir Lady Java who was and is a trans activist who took on the LAPD in the 1960s & 1970s, during which time she changed law number 9 (prohibited the "impersonation by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex.") I’m very excited to not only star as Sir Lady Java, but also produce this groundbreaking project alongside the award-winning Anthony Hemigway and many other great artists whom I respect.
BR: Lastly, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
HS: Keep believing in magic, because dreams really do come true.
I’d also say how proud and perfect that 12-year-old me is just the way I am.
Hailie Sahar is an actress known for Ryan Murphy's hit FX TV series, Pose, which is now streaming on Netflix. She has used her platform to pave the way for other transgender actresses. To see some of her charitable work, you can catch our founder Bianca Rae's interview with her here: https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/news/2019/03/20/true-inner-beauty