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Trace Lysette is the second person to accuse Jeffrey Tambor of sexual misconduct.
The actress’s statement to The Hollywood Reporter reads, “Last week, it was reported in the media that Van Barnes, who previously worked as Jeffrey Tambor’s assistant while shooting Transparent, had privately spoken out on her social media about her experiences of abuse. Sadly, I must add my voice to the chorus. Jeffrey has acted inappropriate to me too.”
Lysette, who plays Shea on Transparent, claims that when she emerged from her wardrobe after filming a scene for the series, Tambor approached her and said, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually.” Alexandra Billings, another actor in the scene, confirmed the story.
Read on to learn more about Lysette and her accusations against Jeffrey Tambor.
1. She Claims That Tambor ‘Thrust’ His Body Against Hers
After stating that he wanted to “attack [her] sexually”, Lysette says that Tambor, “came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.”
She says she pushed Tambor away and “rolled [her] eyes”.
In another instance, Lysette says she met with Tambor and his manager to discuss potential representation. When she thanked Tambor for the gesture, Lysette says, “[Tambor] said, ‘Well, yeah Trace. I really believe in you. And you know what? I don’t even want to have sex with you.’ And then he just looked at me as if he very much indeed wanted to have sex with me. It was an up-and-down look. I rolled my eyes and went to my trailer and thought, ‘This man is something else.’”
Both Lysette and Barnes claim they approached the producers of Transparent to inform them of Tambor’s inappropriate behavior, but no action was taken. Read Lysette’s full statement below.
2. Lysette Is an Openly Transgender Actress
Lysette is a transgender actress.
In an interview with GLAAD in 2015, she was asked if she always knew she wanted to become an actor. Lysette responded, “No. I discovered acting after trying many other things. I was a hairstylist, a makeup artist, a failed track athlete, a drag performer, among other things… I knew I always had a presence of sorts and that I could entertain a crowd.”
She continued by explaining that in general, being on set with a large trans presence both in front of and behind the camera on Transparent is “refreshing.” “There’s a sense of play and freedom on set because I feel that I’m near members of my own tribe. I feel I can go certain places in a scene that may not be familiar to some cis people on set because I know I have other trans folk there to vouch for me and translate certain trans specific vernacular I may throw into a scene.”
3. She Grew up in Dayton, Ohio
Lysette grew up in Dayton, Ohio, which she explains was not the most welcoming place.
“I had a lot of fights in high school. I ended up switching schools in my junior year, because I had been suspended for defending myself — somebody called me a faggot, and I knocked him out in English class,” she tells The Fader.
She turned to acting after hitting rock bottom in life. She explains that at the time, she was living in New York City and not in a good place. “When you transition from male to female, sometimes you can get caught up in the vanity of it all. I was so focused on getting my outside shell ‘correct.’”
Lysette lost her job at Bloomingdale’s because “they wouldn’t allow me to use the woman’s restroom”. She then continued to dance in the city– “for ball players, hood dudes… you name it, I danced for it.” Lysette continues, “I had a bad breakup with a boyfriend, and I left the club one night and slit my wrists on a side street in Midtown. I ended up in Bellevue [Hospital]. I was in the psych ward for a while. And when I got out, a male friend of mine was like, ‘Yo, you need to invest in yourself. You have so much potential, you gotta do this acting thing.’ I was like, ‘You’re right. I want to find my talent again — as a woman, this time.’”
4. She Began Her Career Auditioning for Cisgender Roles
Lysette began her career auditioning for cisgender roles.
It t wasn’t until she was cast in Transparent that she came out as a “proud trans actress”. Asked by GLAAD how her experience as an actress has changed since disclosing her trans status, Lysette says, “It’s as if the universe was waiting for me to walk in my truth. Compartmentalizing my life into groups of people, some who knew, some who didn’t, was taxing and it was destroying me. Keeping my trans identity a secret in the acting world and at my night job was a part of my survival. But I felt empty inside. Since coming out I’ve been able to play roles that allow me to access parts of myself that I had kept censored for years.”
Her first break came in season 14 of Law & Order: SVU. Lysette’s other credits include Drunk History, Blunt Talk, Coffee House Chronicles, and Bloody Mary, among others. She currently has one short film in production, and is filming a TV movie titled Fabled.
5. She Was a Track Athlete and Performed At Drag Bars in Ohio
In her late teens, Lysette was a track athlete. She also performed in drag bars in Ohio.
In a raw and honest interview with The Fader, Lysette was asked what filming her scene at the drag pageant for Transparent was like. She said, “It was wonderful, because my roots as a teen were spent performing in the drag bars of Dayton, OH. Drag was not only my introduction to womanhood, but my introduction to entertainment. It was the first time I realized that I could move a crowd.”