As a member of Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender posse on I Am Cait, Candis Cayne has been thrust
into the spotlight. Though, it’s not the only time she’s enjoyed a burst of
media attention, which first came in 2007 when Cayne landed a role on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money as the first openly
transgender actor in a recurring role on a primetime series.
While the spotlight faded after the series was canceled,
Cayne kept working with appearances on Nip/Tuck,
Drop Dead Diva, and Elementary, on which she recurs as Ms.
Hudson. Once a drag performer early in her career, she has also choreographed
competitions on several seasons of RuPaul’s
WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner Steps Out for New York LGBT Pride Celebration With Candis Cayne
Now, Cayne is appearing as herself on Jenner’s limited
reality series documenting Jenner’s burgeoning journey as a transgender woman. Initially
recruited by E! producers, Cayne has formed a bond with Jenner over the course
of the 8-episode series.
And the show has media clamoring for new details about Cayne
and her would-be romantic relationship with Jenner--a notion teased over the
course of the season as Jenner explores her sexuality identity as a transgender
woman but shut down by Cayne herself. “[We’re] very good friends,” she told the
New York Times.
Ahead of the season finale--which aired on Sunday night
following our phone conversation--Cayne talked to ET about her bond with
Jenner, her experience on reality TV, and what’s next for her.
ET: It's been a while since fans have seen you at this
level of media attention. How does it feel to be back in the spotlight?
Candis Cayne: Wow, it’s kind of interesting
because it wasn’t until I got back on this level of TV, which I realized, “Your
career--if you really stick with it--has peaks and valleys. Sometimes you're
really on and sometimes you're really not. And when you're not, sometimes you
lose a little bit of hope that something's going to happen again. But this has
taught me that if you work hard and keep on doing what you want to do in life,
things happen again.” So I'm really happy.
Most audiences know you primarily as an actress, but on
the show you're appearing as yourself. Was there any hesitation about making
this your next move?
Yeah. For me, probably seven or eight years ago I would have
never thought of that. But I think the world has changed where you can be both.
You can still be respected as an actor and still do reality. The reason why I
did this show in particular is because I know the struggle I had growing up
with my transition and just trying to figure it out without any help. I knew
that this show would change the world. I knew that people would be seeing this
and see a group of women who are successful, adjusted, and happy. That was so
important to me.
WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner Struggles Is Sleepless Over the Struggles of the Transgender Community
Was there any added pressure over how you presented
yourself or to make sure things remained politically correct when it came to
the portrayal of the transgender community?
You know, I kind of live my life politically correct. I
wasn't worried about saying the wrong thing or trying to figure out the
community. I know it--I lived in it for over 20 years. There was no pressure. I
think it was important for the show to have a group of woman who could talk the
talk and walk the walk.
Was Caitlyn’s journey on the show an accurate portrayal
of what you experienced in person?
Yeah, it truly is. Everything that she is discovering and
understanding about the community is really kind of real time. It's been an
amazing experience going through the beginning stages of her transition--being
televised, all the questions she has, all the times she reflects what's going
on with the community and her journey. She really is very inquisitive about
everything--she just says she doesn't know.
WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner Desires a 'Normal Relationship' and for a Man to Treat Her Like a Woman
What about what you saw of yourself on the show? Did fans
see the real Candis Cayne?
It was refreshing for me. Everybody just knows me as an
actress, but it was important to show people who I am. I'm not putting on an
act. It's just kind of who I am--either the good or the bad. You know, I've
talked about the struggles I've had in the industry and in life, but I also
talked about the amazing moments. I tried to have fun because as much as there
is struggle, there is joy.
There was a lot of focus on her sexuality and the
possibility of you two dating. But I’m curious if the show did a disservice to
Caitlyn or transgender people by focusing so much on that element.
You have to have a completely encompassing, real-life
moment. Her story isn't just one aspect. There are all sorts of things to
discover about who she is. Her sexuality is one of them. Like I say in
interviews, her sexuality has nothing to do with her gender. Really, she can
play with ideas--and the show can play with ideas--but it really isn't
anybody's business who she wants to sleep with unless she makes it their
WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner Admits She Was Not a Supporter of Gay Marriage 20 Years Ago
How do you feel about her recent comments about gay
She has come from a place didn't want to talk about her own
gender for so many years. She was kind of like, 'This is who I am, what I am,
where I've come from.' So, she's discovering through her own transition what
her life really entails. She is part of this community. She will come to the
understanding and ideas of our community. When the show started filming, that's
when she started to transition. She's discovering things along the way. She'll
get there. She was telling Ellen that it took her a minute to get there.
LGBT encompasses a lot of people and perspectives. Is it
hard to be a transgender person and share all the views and ideas of the
We're a diverse community. I'm very liberal and I've been an
advocate for our community and outspoken. There is room for everyone in our
community. Someone like Caitlyn, who does come from a more conservative
background, could possibly change the minds and hearts of people in the
conservative party. Everybody is jumping to conclusions because she made such a
splash. People want to start nitpicking now.
REVIEW: 'I Am Cait' Offers Earnest Look at the Larger Transgender Struggle
As the show draws to a close, what is one aspect of
Caitlyn's journey--or even the transgender community--that people are
There are so many stories out there and there are so many
different ways of living the life as a transgender woman or transgender man. We
haven't really focused on the male gender of this. The good about this show is
that we've been able to visit different organizations that fight the fight on
the ground level and work for transgender rights. It's just the beginning of
that and hopefully we'll be able to do more.
Were there any moments that didn't make it on-screen that
you wish fans did get to see?
There were so many moments. There was so much footage that
we filmed that didn't end up making because there were so many things that had
to be said and stories that needed to be told. Who knows, maybe if there is a
season two, we'll be able to tell more stories.
WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner Says She's Still the 'Same Person' Since Her Transition
Would you do your own reality show?
No. Not really at this moment because I really enjoy acting.
I really enjoyed doing this show because of the advocacy and the lives that
we're changing. You never say never, of course. But at this point I'm not
looking to do a reality show.
Are you still driving that Volvo we saw in such disrepair
on the show?
Oh my god, it just broke down. So I'm sitting here in a
rent-a-car and I'm going shopping this week for a new car. I have no idea what
I'm going to get. That damn car!
What's next for you?
Well, I just came from an audition. So I'm still working as
an auditioning actress. I still have that recurring role on Elementary, even though I haven't filmed
this season yet. I'm working on a couple of other projects that hopefully will
be really amazing.
Even though Jenner and Cayne have finished filming I Am Cait, the two were recently spotted celebrating Cayne's 44th birthday. Get more details about their night out below: