The time when cis-gender people could play transgender characters on screen is fast disappearing, according to Zoe Terakes.
“I’ve never seen a cis-gender person tell a transgender story 100 per cent believably,” the young actor, who identifies as non-binary, tells IF.
“There is a level of authenticity in representation that comes when you have somebody who gets it, feels it in their bones and they have lived it.”
Terakes has joined the cast of season eight and nine of Fremantle/Foxtel’s Wentworth playing Rebel ‘Reb’ Keane, who is terrified after being sentenced to prison.
Reb was born female, came to feel she was trapped in a man’s body and now identifies as a female-to-trans man.
Reb’s parents send Reb to a cult-like “rehabilitation” clinic in an effort to “cure” their “daughter,” which has echoes of Joel Edgerton’s feature Boy Erased.
“When I read the brief I felt I just had to do this role; I was drawn to it immediately,” Zoe says during a break in filming.
After auditioning a couple of months ago the actor had a callback with series producer Pino Amenta, casting director Nathan Lloyd and Kate Box, who’s joined the show as Lou Kelly, formerly the prison’s top dog.
A huge fan of the drama, having binge-watched it, Zoe met Box through a mutual friend, actor Anita Hegh, a couple of years ago and they became close friends.
“Kate was very good when I didn’t know whether or not to come out to the industry and took me under her wing,” Zoe says.
Amenta tells IF: “Zoe has an insight into the Reb character through their own experience, which will no doubt add an authenticity to their performance and truth to the story. Zoe is an exceptional actor and has a wonderful chemistry with Kate Box.”
Terakes is coy about the nature of the relationship between Reb and Lou, acknowledging only that “they have a lot to do together.”
On the first set on set last Thursday the actor reunited with Susie Porter. They both appeared in Janet King, which was Terakes’ screen debut as a homeless teenager embroiled in a sexual assault case.
Kevin Carlin is the set-up director, working with Beck Cole, Fiona Banks, Corrie Chen, Roger Hodgman and Mat King. The writers are John Ridley, Kim Wilson, Peter McTighe, Max Conroy and Marcia Gardner.
Wentworth’s international profile has grown rapidly since the series premiered in 2013 and is now broadcast in nearly 160 territories.
Terakes will next be seen on screen in Monica Zanetti’s gay rom-comEllie & Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt), online comedy Bondi Slayer, directed by Jessica Grace Smith and scripted by Victoria Beck, and Aaron Tsindos’ short film Incident 42, a comedy about climate change.