Trans Red, White & Royal Blue star Aneesh Sheth says the LGBTQ+ romantic comedy ‘changed her life’

Red, White & Royal Blue star Aneesh Sheth attends a Special Screening Of Netflix's "Jessica Jones" Season 3 at ArcLight Hollywood on May 28, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Red, White & Royal Blue star Aneesh Sheth is surely set to win more fans when the eagerly-anticipated LGBTQ+ romantic comedy is released in August – but the trans actor already believes that the film has “changed [her] life”.

Starring Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, Red White & Royal Blue is based on Casey McQuiston’s best-selling 2019 novel about the transatlantic trysts and drama that ensue when the son of the US president, Alex Claremont-Diaz, (Perez) falls for his British rival, Prince Henry (Galitzine).

The Matthew Lopez-directed film adaptation arrives on Prime Video on 11 August and boasts some impeccable A-list names in the form of Uma Thurman and Stephen Fry, who play the President of the United States and the King of England respectively.

However, it’s the casting of Aneesh Sheth as Alex’s assigned secret service agent Amy, however, that proves Red, White & Royal Blue is firmly flying the flag for LGBTQ+ talent as the actor continues to blaze a trail for trans performers in Hollywood.

Aneesh Sheth is cracking Hollywood as an out trans actor

Aneesh Sheth, 41, was born in Pune, India and relocated to New York City in the US with her family as a young child in the 1980s.

Her interest in acting began as a child, but her first major onscreen roles only came following her transition in 2008.

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Speaking to The Heroines blog in 2014, Sheth recalled how hearing from a young trans woman while she was training to be a counsellor for the LGBTQ+ charity The Trevor Project inspired her to begin her own transition.

“The hardest thing about coming out was telling my family”, Sheth noted during the interview. “Of course when I look back I think to myself “Why did you worry so much?”

“At the time I felt my whole life was going to change in a way I wasn’t mentally prepared for, as much as I wanted it. I was terrified of the emotional and physical changes that were to come.

“In the long run though, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I can thank an amazing support group of friends and family for that.”

Sheth landed her first onscreen role in 2011, appearing in two episodes of NBC sitcom Outsourced. She’s since appeared in a variety of TV shows, including US medical drama New Amsterdam and hit FX horror series The Walking Dead.

Sheth’s big break came in 2019, when she was cast in the recurring role of Gillian on season three of Marvel TV series Jessica Jones, starring Krysten Ritter.

“I am transgender and the character of Gillian is also trans. But there’s no mention of her being trans within the show, nor a narrative around her identity,” Sheth told iNews at the time. “Which I think is wonderful because trans people exist in the world and it’s not always about their [trans] narrative.”

Sheth has previously advocated for casting trans people in trans roles in order to provide better opportunities for trans actors in the industry.

“While I agree that it is an actor’s job to be able to portray different types of people, it is equally important for trans actors to get the opportunities to be cast”, she told The Heroines.

“We have a long way to go in terms of the depiction of trans people on the screen and I think more fleshed out, fully realised transgender characters would be better served by casting trans actors.

“I do hope we get to a point in time where any actor can portray a trans person, in an honest, fully realised way. Until then, filmmakers need to be a little more daring and not afraid to stray from the stereotypical portrayals we have seen in films thus far.”

Sheth plays secret service agent Amy in Red, White & Royal Blue

Aneesh Sheth landed yet another high profile role in 2022 after being cast in Red, White & Royal Blue as secret service agent and Alex’s dedicated bodyguard, Amy.

In Casey McQuiston original novel, Amy is a described as a trans woman and former Navy SEAL, with the juxtaposition of her no-nonsense attitude and rumoured kill count with her love of embroidery providing an ongoing source of comedy.

As with Jessica Jones, no reference is made to whether Sheth’s character is trans in the 2023 film adaptation of Red, White & Royal Blue – a rare and much-needed example of a trans actor being cast in a role that doesn’t centre around their gender identity.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Sheth has been been full of praise for the production on social media, sharing an image of Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine during filming with the caption: “I love my job. I love what we’re making for you.”

Once filming on Red, White & Royal Blue had wrapped in London in August 2022, Sheth reflected on the personal impact of being part of the film, which is already sending fans of the book into a frenzy weeks ahead of release.

Sharing an image of a Polaroid picture of herself with Perez and Galitzine on Instagram, Sheth wrote: “And that’s a wrap on Red, White & Royal Blue!!!! How do I even begin to describe the last three months. Being a part of this film has changed my life- in so many ways I did not think possible.

“I will miss everyone on this team; we had the best time making this movie. This group, this film, this city – all of it has my heart.”

She added: “And to my boys, Taylor and Nick- you are my angels and I love you with every cell in my heart and soul.”

Red, White & Royal Blue arrives on Prime Video on 11 August.