That fight is exactly what drives King in her own work—and why she’ll never stop fighting for trans representation in Hollywood. Scroll down for more from King as she discusses Equal, her previous roles and why LGBTQ+ storylines matter.
E! News: Equal offers so many history lessons in a way that isn’t boring. When did you first learn about the Compton’s Cafeteria riot?
Isis King: I learned about it on this project, which I was a little bit shocked about. It’s kind of like Black history, right? We talk about the same notable figures every year. And then you hear about a new figure and you’re just like, “Well, hey, I never knew about this person.” I had that same feeling. I was like, “Oh, wait, this is happening everywhere.” We just hear about one big moment which did start the Pride movement, but there were so many other things happening around the country. This was a big moment in history when the queens were tired.
E!: Episode two profiles three historic trans individuals. Who is your trans hero?
IK: I always like to tell the story of Octavia Saint Laurent. I saw Paris Is Burning when I was 19. And that was the first time I saw someone trans outside of the stereotypical episodes of Jerry Springer and Maury. That was the first time I saw someone on my TV screen who was articulate, confident, powerful, she knew what she wanted, she knew who she was. And I was just like, “Oh my gosh, it’s possible, I’m going to be just like her.” I thought, this is how I’m going to navigate transitioning. I have to move to the big city of New York and there’s gonna be a group of people who are going to help me navigate it in a safe way. And I literally did that. That was all because of Octavia Saint Laurent.
E!: What do you love so much about the name Isis?
IK: Isis was the most powerful and most recognized goddess of Ancient Egypt. Her name means queen or mother of the throne. My 21st birthday was the second time I went out and presented myself as Isis. I was going to the club and I remember thinking, “this is the name.” It’s a powerful name and I feel like I was born to be a powerful person with a good heart who can make a difference. I wanted something that I could try to live up to. I didn’t know what was ahead of me but I wanted to make Octavia proud, and the goddess proud.