Pride Yearbook 2022

Eva Reign To Trans Kids: Learn Your Trans History

“Once you know where you’ve come from, you can envision a clearer path toward where you want to go.”

Eva Reign next to a quote of hers surrounded by multicolored bubbles and black and white stars
2022 Pride Yearbook

Before Eva Reign started acting, she was a journalist spotlighting trans experiences. One of her proudest moments as a member of the LGBTQ+ community involved working as a correspondent for Transnational, a VICE News show that focused on issues affecting trans communities. The six-episode series and Reign went on to win a Peabody award and a GLAAD award.

These days, it’s Reign making headlines as the lead in the Billy Porter-directed Anything’s Possible for Amazon Prime Video. “Y’all ready for a trans romcom?” she asked her Instagram followers about the movie, which premieres on July 22. Reign stars as Kelsa, a high schooler dating for the first time as a trans woman. It’s got everything you need in a modern coming-of-age film: a sweet first kiss, an altercation with a best friend, and Tony-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who plays Kelsa’s mom. “I got to play a trans girl living her best life and work with the legendary Billy Porter who I simply adore,” Reign tells Bustle. “This movie was all about joy, and as trans people, we don’t always get to see that.”

For Reign, Pride Month is all about joy. She attended the Tony Awards with Porter, a dream for the self-proclaimed theater kid. June is also the anniversary of her move to Brooklyn from her hometown of St. Louis. “My birthday is also during Pride Month, so I’ll be celebrating another year around the sun by spending some time in nature.”

Lena Waithe, Billy Porter, Eva Reign, and Cynthia Erivo at the 2022 Tony Awards.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment

Below, Reign talks about her enlightening message to transgender students, meditation as self-care, and being a longtime Beyoncé fan.

Eva Reign On Trans Rights & Stanning Beyoncé

How do you feel about trans rights and the ongoing discrimination against transgender students? What would you tell a student who feels discouraged?

Trans rights are under attack at multiple institutional levels right now, but we’ve survived much worse without governmental support. To any trans students feeling anxious or hopeless, I encourage you to turn toward your history. Unfortunately, trans history isn’t taught in most classrooms nor does every local library contain books on the subject, but luckily, we have the Internet.

I urge all the trans kids out there to read up on your history. Once you know where you’ve come from, you can envision a clearer path toward where you want to go.

When I learned about the legacies of the trans women to come before me like Octavia St. Laurent, Tracey Africa, Sir Lady Java, Marsha P.Johnson, and Mary Jones, I began to realize my own power. A lot of people think being trans is some new, trendy thing, but we’ve always been here. Thanks to all the people who fought for our rights in the past, so many of us now feel empowered enough to walk in our truths. So I urge all the trans kids out there to read up on your history. Once you know where you’ve come from, you can envision a clearer path toward where you want to go. Things are pretty horrendous at the moment. There’s no denying that, but I know better days lie ahead.

What superlative would you give yourself for the 2022 Pride Yearbook?

Most Likely to Dance in a Beyoncé Music Video. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a staunch member of the BeyHive. In high school, a lot of my friends would try and quiz me on Beyoncé facts to trip me up and see if I had the answers. As much as they tried, they never succeeded! I always had the answers. My big sister and I were so obsessed and followed all the Beyoncé fan accounts on social media. I think I’ve toned down the stanning a lot since then, but Beyoncé will always reign supreme for me.

What were some of your go-to songs or artists in high school? How about today?

SZA, Jhené Aiko, Kelela, Tinashe, Sade, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and FKA Twigs were my main people throughout high school. I still listen to all of these artists today, but others that I’ve added to my rotation include Kehlani, Syd, Ravyn Lenae, Kodie Shane, and Summer Walker. Still a lot of R&B.

Who is an important role model in your life, and what has that person taught you?

I don’t necessarily have a role model in my life. Yes, there are plenty of people I look up to from Janet Mock to my director Billy Porter and my mentor Tourmaline, but I believe that we should all be our own role models. All of our life paths will shift and change in unexpected ways. In recent years, I’ve found that channeling that aspirational power into oneself is a strong practice.

Tell us about your self-care routine and mental health tips.

I use this app called Headspace to help me meditate. I’m a Gemini, so my mind is often going a mile a minute. Practicing mindful breathing exercises has helped me a lot. Other things I do for self-care include reading a lot of comic books, listening to music, and checking in with myself daily.