Jared Leto was recognised for his performance in 'Dallas Buyers Club' at The Santa Barbara Internataional Film Festival earlier this week, being awarded the Virtuoso Award for his portrayal of Rayon, a transgender character suffering with HIV. Leto, in a press conference after the awards got more than he bargained for when a woman, within the crowd, heckled him, yelling, 'trans-misogyny does not deserve an award', The Hollywood Reporter outlines
'What do you mean by that?' replied Leto.
To which the unidentified woman retorted:
“You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.”
The heckling came as quite a shock to members of the room there to commend Leto on his breakthrough performance, one in which he is expected to win an Oscar for next month. And, to Leto's credit, he did not become phased by the outspoken opinion. Rather, he insisted on posing certain questions;
“Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?
"So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”
In the report on the incident, THR remarks:'The woman continued the back-and-forth, arguing that straight people always play transgendered characters and receive awards for it. Leto repeated his argument that by the heckler’s logic, only straight actors could play straight roles'
Leto, then, offering a final question that was met with applause from the crowd:
“Then you’ve made sure people that are gay, people that aren’t straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art,”
The exchange was concluded by Leto inviting the woman to talk after the Q&A session, an offer she accepted. The woman, accompanied by her friend, conversed with the star for 15 minutes following the cessation of the press conference.
The film that sparked this debate, 'Dallas Buyers Club' hits cinemas today. Read our review here.