Trans Girl – Shakina Nayfack from ‘Quantum Leap’ Season 1 Episode 12


This week quantum leaptitled “Let Them Play”, placed Ben in the body of a high school basketball coach named Carlos Mendéz, whose trans daughter was hoping to play with the team. When Gia (played by Josielyn Aguilera) finally got this opportunity on the field, she was met with opposition from other parents and the school administration, as well as bullying from her fellow students.

When Ben (as Carlos) talked about his “friend” Ben’s experience of feeling different as a Korean kid at school, Gia explained why it wasn’t the same as what she was doing. she was crossing. “I have to fight everyday just to be who I know I am when everyone around me tells me I’m someone else – even my own reflection,” she shared.

Shakina Nayfack in Quantum LeapFor Shakina Nayfack, who wrote, directed and appeared in the episode as Dottie, that moment signified just how much the two characters have in common. “Each episode he’s in someone else’s body trying to get back to his own life but seeing someone else’s reflection in the mirror and knowing he has to serve his life instead. There’s a really interesting parallel, which is what quantum leap done every week, [and that’s] immerse us in someone else’s experience.

So when Gia explained that no one could be inside her experience, it was Nayfack’s way of making a “universal understanding of what our series lead is going through and what this young trans girl is going through.” .

Read more from TVLine’s interview with Nayfack, who shared the scene that made her cry and what she hoped viewers would take away from the episode.

On the scene outside the principal’s office in which Gia asked her friend Amanda how she would feel if Gia was scouted for her…
“This scene is from one of my real life experiences, and just a really painful moment of feeling most helpless as a young trans person. I remember before shooting this scene, I I had spoken with Josielyn about what it was like when nobody understood. We all know parents just don’t understand, but as a trans kid, there’s literally nobody who understands. Josielyn was like, ‘ You don’t understand, this episode is my life. I graduated in high school. I transitioned in high school. I just started crying on set, and she was crying because we were turning our pain into something truly inspiring and hopeful for the world. And it’s worth it.

On Dottie’s quirky spoken word performance…
“I love spoken word, but I also think it’s ridiculous. I knew we had this really heavy emotional episode, and I just wanted to have some comic relief and create a bit of a clown that would help us get through it and not take ourselves too seriously. But this poem, which is in many ways ironic, is also fundamentally my thesis on humanity – that ultimately we are all one. And so there is a trans allegory and a quantum leap allegory of the nonsensical talk that Dottie gives you in the episode.

Mason Alexander Park in Quantum LeapExploring more of Ian’s backstory…
“Our show is about Ben and Addison – it’s a love story through time – but we have this amazing series regular cast [and] we always try to find cool things for them to do. And then in particular, you know, I’m always in the writers room like, ‘What about Ian?’ We have to break a lot of conventions in this episode, and that not only frees up Mason the actor and Ian the character, but it also frees up all the writers to look at those conventions that we’re breaking. [Episode 12] so that all the episodes that follow become, in other ways, more adventurous and weirder.

On what she hoped viewers would take away from the episode…
“I hope trans kids and their families can see themselves on screen in a way that reflects their reality and gives them hope and support. That’s super important to me. The other thing is that I hope that people who don’t have much experience with trans people or who may have conflicting feelings about trans people and trans children have a heart-opening experience and feel a little more compassion and understanding where maybe in the past they had fear and ignorance.


Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *