‘Star’ actress Amiyah Scott on Pokémon and life as a trans creative
She’s also about her faith, being petty (sometimes!) and living her truth
“You don’t let anybody dictate how you live,” says actress Amiyah Scott. “You get one life, and it’s yours to live — not society’s, your parents’ or [anyone else’s] decision to tell you how you should live.”
And though all of that is easier said than done, Scott lives it. Born Arthur Scott, the 29-year-old New Orleans native knew early on that Arthur wasn’t the person she was meant to be. Scott, now 29, began her transition at 15, and it was in 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, that Scott got a new start. “When we evacuated to Atlanta, I used that opportunity to start over again completely as Amiyah.”
After a quick stint with The Real Housewives of Atlanta, she was contacted by Lee Daniels about Fox’s Star, where she plays Cotton, transgender daughter of Carlotta Brown (Queen Latifah). Right now, when she’s not gearing up for Star’s second season (set to premiere Wednesdays this fall after Empire), Scott speaks all around the country focusing on empowering students to overcome bullying, build their self-esteem and embrace their authentic selves. Here, Scott talks about the landscape of transgender roles, her all-time favorite memes — and the most petty thing she’s ever done.
What’s your spirit animal?
Can I say, myself? [Laughs]
What is one app that you use that no one else uses?
I’m addicted to the Pokémon game. I loved Pokémon growing up, so when I heard that they had a game on the phone, at first I started to play it for fun, and now I’m low-key addicted. It’s really, really fun.
Do you have a favorite athlete, or team?
I love watching sports. I may not watch them for the same reasons as everyone else [laughs], but I try to get into it. I think football is kind of fun. I’m from New Orleans, so I root for the Saints when I get a chance.
What do you want people to learn from you?
To know that they should love themselves. What they decide to be is whatever is in their heart. I wish I could tell people that things are possible. The craziest part about my transition is that I didn’t think that I could do it, and at many points I wasn’t going to do it. It’s easy to sit back now after the fact, but I was so close to giving up.
Is there anything happening within the trans community that you wish were different?
I just wish we could be more supportive of one another. People don’t take into account that yes I’m trans, but I’m also black. I have two things working against me. I’m not only black. I’m not only gay. I’m black, gay and trans. I have so many different targets on my back. So overall for me, I just want equality. I want to feel safe.
What helps you keep going?
Faith in my journey. It seemed impossible, and I think that’s what my testimony is: The impossible is in fact possible. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and being frustrated because I felt certain things about myself didn’t look right. Who I was in my heart was not who I saw. What kept me going? I got the information I needed. Education is very big and, dealing with transition, people need to research and find out what’s possible because you’re not as alone as you think you are, and it’s not as impossible as you think it may be.
How do you feel about the entertainment landscape?
It’s great that we finally have the opportunity to tell a story that hasn’t been told. But at the same time, I think that once we tell the stories, I’d love to see trans actors playing normal roles. I would love for trans to become secondary. I don’t want it to always be ‘I’m trans and my parents don’t accept me.’
What’s one place you’d love to go?
Africa, just to connect back. There’s so many places that I want to go to. I want to go to Paris. I’d love to go to London.
What’s the most embarrassing thing about yourself?
I am very passionate. Sometimes, when you care a lot, you jump into conclusions and assumptions, and I’m kind of confrontational. I’m working on that.
What’s the most petty thing you’ve ever done?
Girl, I’ve done some petty things. I think one of the pettiest things I’ve done was being mad at my boyfriend and only cooking one portion when I made it seem like I was cooking [two].
What keeps you undefeated?
My faith in myself. My faith and confidence can never be defeated.