What Happened to Tangerine Actress Mya Taylor?

Phaylen Fairchild
6 min readJan 31

Back in 2015, Mya Taylor’s name was on the lips of everyone in Hollywood after delivering a powerhouse performance in the indie film Tangerine, the critical darling and audience favorite filmed by director Sean Baker on a shoestring budget with iphones.

Along with his writer, Chris Bergoch, Baker found Taylor and her would-be co-star, Kiki Rodriguez hanging outside the Los Angeles LGBT Community Center. The director approached them and asked them if they’d like to be in a movie. Suspicious, Mya presumed the two white, cis, heterosexual men were trying to recruit trans women for an adult film. Once he assured her it was above bar, she was still apprehensive, thinking it would be likely a film that, like many indies, vanishes into obscurity.

Mya brought the character, Alexandra, a sex worker who refuses to have her ambitions dampened by her grim reality, to life with the grace and proficiency of a seasoned vet, literally blowing audiences away with her star-making turn as the hooker with a heart of gold.

After Tangerine was released to global praise, Mya found herself in a whirlwind romance with Hollywood, going to the Oscars, winning both the Indie Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Gotham Award among others. She was poised to be the future of the industry, breaking through the glass ceiling, demonstrating on a world stage that a transgender actress was capable of not only carrying a film, but being universally embraced by even conservative audiences.

Taylor’s colleagues who also took home awards that night, including Brie Larsen (Room), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation) launched into the stratosphere that night, but what happened afterward was an unusual fate only she would meet- the end of her career.

Larsen went on to make big budget features like Kong; Skull Island, and Captain Marvel, as well as The Avengers. Since her 2015 win, she has made 20 films, with…

Phaylen Fairchild

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright phaylens@gmail.com