Trans model Laith Ashley shares how playing Taylor Swift’s love interest ‘humanises trans people’
Taylor Swift’s “Lavender Haze” video co-star Laith Ashley shared how starring as the pop singer’s love interest is a huge win for trans representation.
Swift knocked it out of the park yet again with the music video to her dreamy hit “Lavender Haze”, the latest single off her stellar album Midnights. Since then, fans around the world have praised the music video for elevating LGBTQ+ representation by starring Ashley, a trans model, activist and singer.
Ashley starred as Swift’s leading man in the music video – self-directed by the 11-time Grammy winning singer. In the video, he lies asleep next to Swift in bed as she traces galactic patterns along his back and shares some intimate cozy time with her at a house party.
The trans actor said having a trans person in love in the music video is a huge step forward for representation, and he’s been “so excited” that notifications “just kept coming in” since the video dropped.
“Having a trans person just being in love on screen, it’s humanising trans people,” Ashley told BuzzFeed News.
“We deserve to exist. We deserve to take up space in society. We will always exist regardless of anti-trans propaganda.”
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Ashley added that playing Taylor Swift’s love interest was a dream role, and he “couldn’t stop smiling” even though he was super nervous.
“If you notice in some parts of the video, I couldn’t stop smiling,” he said. “I smiled to hide the fact that I was so nervous.”
The trans singer said the music video is “so important” in terms of trans visibility in an interview with Elle, especially with Swift’s expansive fan base across the globe.
“Even on Instagram, I’ve gotten thousands of messages from young trans people and trans people of all ages saying how important and how huge it is that someone with the platform that Taylor Swift has, especially in the times that we’re in now, used a trans man as her love interest,” he said.
“And she had multiple trans people in the party scene. There were people of all different backgrounds, sexualities, and identities.”
Ashley called the “Lavender Haze” music video a “celebration of diversity, of acceptance, of liberty and freedom” – which would have been a powerful message to him growing up.
“Growing up, there weren’t any images of trans people on television or in media, really,” Ashley recalled.
“If there were, they were often being mocked or humiliated or made fun of or being cast aside, which would make one feel like, oh, you’re not supposed to be this, this is wrong, I need to hide. This is a celebration of diversity, of acceptance, of liberty, and freedom. And we need to see more of that.”
Taylor Swift gushed about the music video and her “incredible” co-star in an adorable post about “Lavender Haze” on social media.
“The ‘Lavender Haze’ video is out now. There is lots of lavender. There is lots of haze,” Swift wrote.
“There is my incredible co-star [Laith Ashley] who I absolutely adored working with. This was the first video I wrote out of the three that have been released, and this one really helped me conceptualize the world and mood of Midnights, like a sultry sleepless 70’s fever dream.”
Ashley thanked Swift for allowing him to “play a small part in [her] story” and said it was an “experience [he] will never forget”.
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