I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on TV! With the fall TV season fast approaching, trailers have been popping up all over social media. This week’s sneak peek offerings included a new docuseries from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen Alyssa Edwards, along with a teasing look at Season 13 of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia;” “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” and “Nanette” comedian Hannah Gadsby also released some very good news. But it’s Josie Totah, star of NBC’s “Champions,” who stole the show this week with one of the most powerful, purposeful coming out moments I’ve ever seen.
Totah, formerly credited as J.J. Totah, is a child actor known for her sharp wit on films like “Other People” and shows like “Glee,” “Jessie” and the short-lived “Champions.” But the actor isn’t “J.J. Totah, gay boy,” as many have assumed. Her pronouns are she, her and hers, she’s a transgender woman, and her name is Josie Totah.
LGBTQIA+ folx come out many, many times in their lives as personal realizations bubble to the surface. I fit more LGBTQIA+ labels than I’m willing to tell people (queer, bisexual, omnisexual), so I go with the easiest answer, depending on the audience. Totah, it seems, had a similar struggle with labels. In her own op-ed for Time, Totah explained her journey from a small NorCal town, where people assumed she was a gay boy, to the entertainment industry, where the label stuck. From reporters to awards presenters, Totah’s identity was constantly assumed, which boxed her into an identity she never actually identified with. Though she came out to her mom, who supported her and helped her get on hormone blockers, she was never comfortable with revealing her true self, saying:
I’ve halfway corrected people by telling them I identify as LGBTQ. I wasn’t ready to be more specific. I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted, that I would be embarrassed, that the fans who knew me from the time when I acted in a Disney show would be confused. But I realized over the past few years that hiding my true self is not healthy. I know now, more than ever, that I’m finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself.
By sharing her own story, (which you really should read in its entirety), Totah, a college freshman in the midst of transition, has surely inspired other to come out and live their truth too. Coming out as LGBTQIA+ is hard enough: coming out again, with a different name and physical appearance, brings a flurry of questions and comments. Few would be able and willing to come out in such a verbose, polished and heartfelt manner, knowing their words will be read and discussed by the world at large. This is the kind of bravery that changes lives and minds, and I’m excited to see what Josie Totah, the kickass actress who’s living her truth, will do next.
Get ready for the tongue-pops, y’all. Alyssa Edwards, the ultimate meme-able fave of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” will finally get the recognition she deserves. Edwards (aka, Justin Johnson) is set to lead Netflix docuseries “Dancing Queen,” which follows the superstar as he tries to juggle his personal life and drag life while running an elite dance studio in his hometown of Mesquite, Texas. Netflix has ordered eight episodes of the new series, produced by “Drag Race’s” World of Wonder Productions with exec producers RuPaul, Johnson, Fenton Bailey Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, and Roy Orecchio. The series will premiere on the streaming service on Oct. 5.
Judging by the new trailer (watch below), “Dancing Queen” is a cross between “Dance Moms” and the typical Netflix doc, with some Alyssa-isms sprinkled in. Oh, and there’s a Shangela cameo, because she’s required to make an appearance on every damn TV show ever made. (Not that I don’t live for her every single time.) I’m not sure if “Dancing Queen” will be earning any Emmy noms, but damn am I excited for the sheer amount of tongue-pops just waiting to be unleashed.
The queen you know. The stories you don't.
— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) August 22, 2018
“Drag Race” fans will also be delighted to hear that “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” where fan favorites from past seasons duke it out for a new crown, was renewed for a fourth season over on VH1. It’s unsurprising news, due to “Drag Race’s” cult-like following in the queer community (we’ve got fantasy football for it and everything) but it’s nice to know our queens won’t be leaving the small screen.
Alyssa Edwards isn’t the only one kicking ass in show business these days. Hannah Gadsby, the mind behind critically-acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette,” has signed with talent agency UTA. The comedian and writer’s career has flourished rapidly since “Nanette” premiered in June, earning Gadsby a Just For Laughs’ Special of the Year award and worldwide fame. UTA will focus on bringing Gadsby’s talents, formerly known only to Aussies and the Brits, to Hollywood’s attention. In the meantime, Gadsby is working away on a new memoir, “Ten Steps to Nanette,” which will hit bookstores in 2019. Talk about queer powerhouses, am I right?
Rounding off the week is a Season 13 trailer for the little oddball that could, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The inexplicable comedy is returning to FXX for yet another season, which will feature glue guns and lemon juice for first aid, a Kramer impression for the ages, a sexual harassment seminar that’s sure to be disastrous, and a Mindy Kaling cameo. My queer behind is just here for Mac’s first Pride and an uncharacteristic six-pack, set to be unleashed in the season premiere, but those who’ve been waiting for deets on the Dennis sex doll situation, you won’t be disappointed. Glenn Howerton, who’s pulling double duty this season on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and NBC’s “A.P. Bio,” will be in more than half the episodes, but Mac needed “something Dennis-shaped to fill my hole” when he’s not around. Yes, that is a direct quote.
Season 13 of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” premieres Sept. 5 on FX. Watch the trailer below.