The project called 5050by2020, created by Transparent creator Jill Soloway, an organization that aims to create equality in Hollywood by the year 2020, created a short film series and from this, came about KiKi and the Mxfits, starring Cielo Oscuro as Kiki and created by writer and director, Natalia Leite. I had the pleasure of sitting down with them as they both tell me a little about the project, their experiences on set, and what the project means to them and media.
KiKi and the Mxfits tells the the story of KiKi, whose transness is under attack as the school’s white principal “catches” KiKi rightfully using the women’s restroom and puts her in detention for three weeks (in teenager’s time that’s about ten years-some hard time). Kiki’s friends find out, and decide to take matters into their own hands.
I asked both creatives how this project came about, Natalia Leite, filmmaker from Sao Paulo, Brazil, gives us some insight on the blueprints of Kiki and the Mxfits: “The producers had reached out to me to participate [...in] 5050by2020” Leite explains that Topple productions and Them partnered up to create three short films, giving Leite the chance to create KiKi.
Leite continues: “From there, I proposed to the Topple producers the concept of Kiki & The Mxfits and wrote the script for it, and they gave it the thumbs up. It all came together very quickly.”
Leite:“I was able to bring together my creative crew, people who worked with me on other movies and are basically part of my family now. Christina Hjelm, who works at Topple, joined the project as we were prepping for the shoot and contributed to the script. Everyone gave it their all. It was a perfect team affair - lots of wonderful talented people came together for this.”
When it came to casting the short, no one other than Cielo Oscuro, the 20 year old trans actress from South Central with Guatemalan and Salvadoran parents, could embody the lead character KiKi- despite Oscuro’s career being a bit green in the industry in comparison to the rest of the cast and crew, she was ready to create space for trans entertainers. She explains how the project trickled down to her, all starting with an open casting call for trans actors.
Just with an overall optimistic attitude, Oscuro didn’t know what to expect from the process, until a few days later when the casting director contacted the actress, appointing her as La KiKi. Of course, Oscuro’s response was emotional, “I was crying in all the languages.”
The Angelino didn't let the pressures of a debut performance shake her game on set, staying motivated by her goals to create a platform for queer performers in the industry. She says, “I don’t have much acting experience, but I’m here to conquer this.” The actress says she channelled other trans femmes the hood for inspiration behind her performance as KiKi, as well as pulling from her own life experiences for the role. It is as if KiKi is Cielo’s homage to trans performers from underprivileged communities before her, with the intent to highlight how difficult it is for trans folks to survive in general, let alone in the hood. The actress describes her ancestors as “the real chingonas.”
Leite tells me her inspirations behind KiKi, explaining her desire to see regular teenage shenanigans, but with more diversity. “Something like the Breakfast Club, but the queer Latinx version.” She says, “As a teenager you grow up watching movies where kids are getting into trouble, having fun, finding friendship as a way to get through their challenges. I wanted to identify with those characters but they were all straight white boys. I see there is a real need to give these teen storylines to QPOC.”
Oscuro’s main goal with the project is to take up space as a trans actress, in order to create awareness in Hollywood that trans entertainers exist and will prosper. She says: “This role means so much to me, to have a Latinx LBGTQIA+ representation in media and that’s something that we need [...] and to specifically play KiKi for me was amazing- I was like ‘wow [i can play] a trans person’” Her advice to other trans actors trying to similarly break through the industry is “Keep on going, there will always be the right role for you,” Cielo also makes it a point that it is crucial for the survival of trans women in Hollywood, to stay assertive and stand their ground in this industry.
Right now the project is looking for sponsorship, attention, and enough momentum to become a full fledge web series, in hopes of becoming a pop culture staple in trans representation for media. You can watch and support KiKi and the Mxfits here.
Keep up to date with these artists, IG/Twitter: @_natalialeite_ and @bbysatanic666, and to support the artists, donate to Cielo’s transition fund here .
Palmira Muniz is a CSUITEMUSIC.com blogger.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Vivalapalma