Candis Cayne Makes Her Return to Acting, but Just Not to ‘Transparent’

by Stacy Lambe 9:55 AM PDT, May 04, 2016
Photo: NBC

After months on a bus debating Caitlyn Jenner’s politics, an abundant amount of wine, an encounter with Hillary Clinton and sisterly bonding over the ups and downs of life, season two of I Am Cait has concluded.

“I've never been in such close quarters with a group of girls before for such a long period of time,” Candis Cayne, one of Jenner’s squad members who have accompanied the former Olympian on her journey as a transgender woman, tells ET about the bus tour that took them across the country, forcing Jenner to see the good and bad of her community. “At the end of the day, I think it was a really great experience for everyone, including Caitlyn.”

From the very beginning of season two, there was plenty to debate with Jenner, who had become a political lightning rod thanks to her favorable views of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, while slamming Clinton’s supposed lack of support for women’s rights.

MORE: Candis Cayne to Co-Host Lambda Legal's 2016 West Coast Liberty Awards

“It was kind of the elephant in the room and we had to talk about it in order to let it go,” Cayne says of her and the rest of the group -- activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, author Kate Bornstein, producer Zackary Drucker, activist Chandi Moore and newcomer Ella Giselle -- confronting Jenner on numerous occasions. “Certain people, like myself, are very active in the political spectrum and we know about our history and our oppression, so we just needed to talk about that. Not just for Caitlyn, but for everybody to hear what the LGBT community goes through.”

And the group was forced to face their politics head-on at a stop in Des Moines, Iowa, for the Democratic debates, even establishing a safe word (“God Bless America”) to prevent emotions from flaring. There, they met Clinton, which seemingly changed Jenner’s perspective on the presidential candidate. “I have to admit, I think she's very good on transgender rights,” she said.

For Cayne, meeting Clinton was much bigger than Jenner or the show. “It was such a moment for me personally,” she says, looking back. “I look up to her and I know her track record and what she's done for women's rights. I know she's really supported trans girls out there.”

“I thought, ‘This is my kind of girl,’” Cayne continues. “It was really cool meeting our possible next president.”

Photo: NBC

While Jenner’s reality series has meant a welcome return to primetime for Cayne, her first passion is acting. She most notably starred on Dirty Sexy Money in 2007, when she became the first transgender actor to have a recurring role on primetime TV and has since had recurring roles on Nip/Tuck and Elementary.

Prior to that, she made one-episode appearances, which often involved having to educate producers about transgender people to make the roles more realistic. “If I'm going to get murdered with my head stuffed in a toilet and drowned -- which is disgusting, but it's television -- at least make it an accurate portrayal,” she told Out about an early role on CSI.

If there’s any sign of improvement, it’s her latest dip back into the acting pool. In December, she appeared on The Young and the Restless, playing a cisgender woman. “I was just playing a female character. That in itself was groundbreaking,” Cayne says, adding that they left her character open to return. She appeared on the show while also filming I Am Cait, only allowing her to do one episode at the time. “We’ll see what happens.”

Her latest gig is a guest-starring role on NBC’s medical drama, Heartbeat, starring Melissa George as a world-renowned heart transplant surgeon. In the episode that airs Wednesday, May 4, Cayne plays a transgender woman with breast cancer forced to halt her transition due to the hormones she’s taking. “Nobody’s told this story about trans people also getting breast cancer,” she says. 

For the show’s part, Cayne says they knew how to write her character. “There might have been one little note or two little notes, but for the most part, they got it right,” she says proudly. “They were really accurate. They wrote this character such complex issues and feelings.” 

Photo: NBC

While Cayne says she eyeing a number of acting gigs, none of them are Transparent, the hit Amazon dramedy, which will feature Jenner in a guest-starring role when it returns for season three. The Emmy-winning series is also co-produced by Drucker and has featured a number of transgender actors, including Alexandra Billings, Trace Lysette and season two breakout Hari Nef.

“I'm really good friends with Zackary, I love the cast, I love the show. But when it comes down to it, I'm an actor. And if I go to an audition for Transparent, and I get it, great,” she says, before adding: “Yes, of course. If they ask me to do something, of course I would do something.”

The sentiment also being the same for another season of I Am Cait. “If they come a calling, of course,” Cayne says. “When it all comes down to it, we're a really good group of friends and we have a great message.”

And, seemingly addressing any critics of the series, Cayne adds: “People can say what they want, but I know we're doing good work.”