Earlier this week it was reported on loldarian.com the inclusion of a transgender female on the new season of America's Best Dance Crew and now we learn of another talented talented black transgender female on P. Diddy's new season of MTV's Making His Band. If you're like me and can only stand watching about 5 minutes of P. Diddy on screen then you probably missed this talented songstress.
Jaila Simms hails from Chicago, Illinois home of powerhouse Jennifer Hudson and wowed the judges with her rendition of Estelle's 'American Boy', despite singing in an obvious lower register. In a timely interview with The Advocate Simms opens up about her transition from male to female, growing up in a traditional black family, and her experience working with Diddy.
From The Advocate:
What was it like meeting Sean “Diddy” Combs for the first time?
Intimidating. Intimidating, like ... I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that. I walked into the room and he sucked the life out of me. It was just, like, that kind of emotional, cathartic moment because everything I’d worked so long for was actually coming to fruition, with just one man in a room. It was then great to see him actually working on his own music and to see that he is an artist and has the same struggles everyone else faces. You know, he cries, he bleeds, he gets frustrated at times.
Did you always want to be a performer?
I did [laughs]! Ever since I was a little one. A little tot. I knew that music was my passion and my purpose for being here on this planet. I really feel like we all have a divine purpose, and, you know, at some point in our lives it’s revealed to us. Luckily for me, it was revealed at an early age, and music was it. I knew that stepping into the music industry was going to be hard, but I’ve always known that music was my love.
Did you have any transgender role models?
Hey, not really. I’m 27 years old, so I was growing up during the '80s. I was an '80s baby and there weren’t too many transgender people in popular roles in the media. Just recently, I’ve been looking up to people like Laverne Cox and RuPaul, who’s a female impersonator, but in the same vein. Also, people like [America’s Next Top Model transgender contestant] Isis and people that I can connect with on a personal level who are more in my generation.
Was your family supportive of your “coming out” as transgender?
I feel like, with all the things I’ve gone through, my family has definitely been there for me and what’s really important in our family is love. People can judge you -- society, even your friends on some occasions. But your family will always be bound by love. Growing up as a child and knowing that I might be more comfortable living my life another way, um, is definitely rough. But if you do have that kind of love in your life, you understand that they’re going to love you no matter what.
So they didn’t force you into therapy?
This is the whole thing, and I’m gonna keep it all-the-way real. I come from a black family that was born and raised in the church, so we’re deeply rooted in religion and in “doctrine,” but at the same time, there has to be a balance. My family, for instance, may not have always accepted me and may not have always liked my actions, even so far as my putting popcorn in the microwave instead of on the stove. But at the end of the day, we know that our love for each other supersedes that. If more people take that into consideration, you’ll have a lot less therapy patients.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about transgender people?
A lot of people look at transgender women as people who are overly sexual, especially in the LGBT community. I think people don’t understand that we’re just trying to have our outsides match our insides. It’s more than about sex. On a spiritual level, some people think their soul is caught in the wrong body. They’re just not able to be themselves. And I want society to know that it’s not based upon sex or image or wanting to be beautiful. It’s about wanting to be who you truly are.
Get into Simms' Making His Band audition in the video below at the 2:09 mark: