"Being on set was the first time I heard my mom use my correct name and pronouns, so that made my heart soar"

Transgender Vietnamese actor Ian Alexander said The OA helped his family accept his identity.

In an interview on The Ellen Show, Vietnamese actor Ian Alexander revealed that The OA helped his family understand and accept his identity.

Alexander is one of the stars on Netflix’s The OA and is the first transgender Asian American to act on TV.

Joined by The OA co-star and co-creator Brit Marling, Alexander told Ellen DeGeneres that the television series helped his parents accept his identity.

At the age of 12, Alexander began questioning his gender. “I was really just watching these videos on YouTube, like starting testosterone and top surgery videos and all this stuff,” Alexander said. “I didn’t really make the connection as to why I was so intrigued by these videos and so invested.”

The 17-year-old said he met other trans people at age 13. “It wasn’t until I was 13 when I met other trans people for the first time and I was like, ‘Wait, you’re allowed to do that? You’re allowed to change your pronouns and your name?'”

Alexander was 15 when The OA was first released in 2016. It was only when he was on set that his family accepted his gender.

“Being on set was the first time I heard my mom use my correct name and pronouns, so that made my heart soar and made me realize they can accept this,” Alexander said.

“I come from a religious family, so it was a little hard for them to accept at first. They were kind of just like, ‘You’re too young. You don’t really understand what this means,'” he recalled.

Marling added that the industry doubted that she could find an actor to represent her 14-year-old transgender Asian American character.

“They were telling us at the time, ‘You’re not gonna find all three of these things in the casting world,’” she said.

Although Alexander had no acting experience, he fulfilled the criteria for the character. “I just decided to go for it,” he said. “I felt like it was fate calling out to me.”