Amos Mac is truly playing a huge part in transforming the perception and informing the nation on the transgender community through his work in tv, film, photography, and print media. By using his creative talents, he is giving a voice to so many people who might otherwise not have one.
You’ve worked on Amazon’s Transparent, AMC's The Son, VICELAND’s Gaycation, and now Gossip Girl on HBO MAX. Can you talk a bit about your journey in writing and finding yourself in the “film scene”?
I was first inspired to write on television because of Transparent, a couple of my friends who were queer non-binary trans and writing on the show. It opened my eyes and allowed me to see that I really could make that career shift, which seemed so out of reach. It was a natural talent that I really wanted to explore and they inspired me to make the switch from print media to the television and movie industry.
Before screenwriting, you founded Original Plumbing; the first print magazine in America dedicated to trans male culture. How did that idea come to you? What was the driving force for you to create this magazine?
Original Plumbing started in 2009 from a photography project that I was doing in San Fransisco at the time. I was photographing trans men and I wanted to make a little zine where I interviewed them so that they could have a voice next to their photograph because I was seeing a trend where a cisgender artist would photograph trans people and there would be beautiful photographs on a gallery wall, but no context whatsoever. That inspired me to create a space where we can have beautiful photographs of trans people, but they can also tell their story and be in charge of how they were being photographed, more of a collaboration. Original Plumbing became that space. It grew from there, becoming a 10-year project ending in 2019 with a book published by the feminist press, which is a collection of our favorite photographs and articles over the years.
A lot of your photographs are done in a fun, cheeky way. Was there inspiration or reasoning behind that specific aesthetic?
That is my aesthetic. A teen magazine for adults is my aesthetic. When I first started taking photographs for Original Plumbing they were cheeky pin-up photographs. It was, like, are we (trans people) allowed to have a nonserious space for themselves? It doesn’t have to be a constant panel on how our lives are in danger or healthcare issues. I wanted to create something fun. As the magazine continued, we did bring up more serious issues that the community was talking about and worried about.
You are recognized in the fashion community for the photoshoot you did in 2015 for & Other Stories featuring all transgender models and crew. Since then, there have been a lot more awareness and acceptance for trans people in the fashion industry.
That experience was really fun. I think I was in Sweden for about 48 hours. Everyone was so welcoming and gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted. It was inspired by a young trans child whose parent works for & Other Stories.
Some of those images are now in a traveling exhibit in Europe. So it’s so cool that it impacted the fashion and art world. The press was something I expected, however, the traveling exhibit was not. So it was truly an honor.
What are some of the projects that are in your pipeline right now?
I’m just finishing up on writing for Gossip Girl Season 1 that will air on HBO MAX, and it’s my first staff writing job. I started as an assistant when I made the move to switch into this industry, and I’ve written sample after sample and so I’m very excited about this opportunity.
I also have a film coming out about Billy Tipton, who was a trans musician. It’s being produced by a Canadian production company and I co-wrote it with Aisling Chin-Yee. Aisling reached out to me to help tell his story through a trans male voice so I spent a lot of time going through the archives to learn more about Billy Tipton. It’s a process documentary with some experimental parts involved. I’m really excited to tell his story.
You're working on so many different projects, how do you find the time for balance and wellness?
I actually slowed down quite a bit since Original Plumbing. I did not take much time for self-care for the first few years of that magazine and I burned myself out. I learned a lot from that experience. Going outside, going for a hike, focusing on eating healthy has been now part of my daily routine.
Starting my day going on a hike with my dog, on a beautiful mountain, helps me clear my head and grounds me. It clears my mind to spend at least an hour outside.
What are some of the issues that are most important to you?
I do worry about healthcare and trans kids' access to healthcare and their rights. If kids are being told they are “too young” to understand what they are, they suppress that. And when they become an adult and want to transition, then the healthcare system is like “why didn’t you make this decision earlier”. So those laws are terrifying in America.