Billy Porter’s feature directorial debut, Anything’s Possible, is out on Prime Video this weekend and the film is a historic feat as the first major rom-com with a trans lead at the center.
Eva Reign is the said lead, and though this is her first film credit, her presence on-screen is that of a seasoned professional. The lead role in the film, which focuses on a high school romance in Philadelphia as two teens (the other played by Abubakr Ali) go through the trials of senior year, was something that Reign did not see coming.
“I definitely did not think that this was going to be my first project,” Reign said in a recent interview with Shadow and Act. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I definitely didn’t think I would ever be the lead of a project. I’d hoped and prayed for that, but even for Black cis actors, we don’t see many instances of this. So to be Black and trans leading this project, I feel super, super honored and super grateful. And I hope that we have more projects like this moving forward.”
The actress also didn’t even have a team in place when she booked the gig. A friend actually encouraged her to apply and from there, the rest is history.
She explained, “I learned about this project through an email. Literally, my friend sent me an email about this and was like, ‘Eva, you are perfect for this. Send in a tape. I will work with you on it…like we are getting you this role.’ I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have a manager. I think that moment of like my friend, thinking of me and helping me, I think that’s how a lot of Black actors have broken into this industry.”
Reign references the notable moment in which multihyphenate Issa Rae spoke about networking laterally.
“Issa Rae talks about how you need to reach across, right? And that’s definitely what has helped me throughout my life,” she continued. “People who I’m just friends with who just see something special– they’re like, ‘OK, let me help you.’ Having a strong network of friends, that’s how you kind of get through life just as like an artist. So, I started the audition process [in] February of last year, and then I booked it [in] late June of last year. I booked it, and the very next day, I was on a flight to Pittsburgh.”
Of course, there are a lot of surface similarities between the actress and her character, Kelsa, from how they grew up to the YouTube of it all.
“The timelines are about the same,” Reign said. “It’s kind of wild how similar we both are. We’re both Black trans girls from the middle of the country from these, like smaller cities. She’s from Pittsburgh [and] St. Louis is my hometown and I would say both of those cities are very similar in terms of just the racial demographics, careers, economy-wise, histories of the cities– there’s a lot of similar things there. We both had moms who worked in the medical industry [an were] both raised by single moms who were scared for their young and trans child coming up in this world, scared of how people would treat us, scared of how people would see us. I wanted to make videos on YouTube [and] y mom was like, ‘Nah.’ [laughs]. My mom was struggling with even letting me join social media. So those points of tension that she and her mom have, we have those same things. Those loving discussions that they had, we also had those same things.”
But for the overall high school experience, Reign says she had it a bit worse.
“High school for me was much more tumultuous,” she added. “I was bullied pretty fiercely at times. Kelsa also goes through bullying, [but] I will say that mine was worse. But I’m happy that Kelsa wasn’t bullied in the way that I was and I hope that every young Black trans kid out there has a more positive experience, even from Kelsa’s.’
And the fashion? Reign’s a fashion girl herself, but she says Kelsa has her beat.
“I definitely loved fashion, just like Kelsa does,” she said. “I do think her fashion is better than mine [laughs]. Kelsa’s got a little bit more money than I did. Kelsa’s going to high-end places. I was going to Goodwill and just making it work. And dating-wise, I didn’t date and I’m in high school, so she also has me beat there. But even though Kelsa is 17, the things that she’s going through dating-wise definitely [are similar to] what its even like for a trans woman who is like 40. I just know that because a lot of older Black trans women have talked to me about how much this film means to them. I’m just really happy that something like this exists today.”
Anything’s Possible premieres July 21 on Prime Video.