Jamie – A transgender fairytale
In his fourth feature for us, Olly Pike introduces us to the awesome new Pop’n’Olly video. What happens when you don’t have a fairy godmother to grant your every wish? Jamie doesn’t. So she finds her own way to go to the ball. A story of determination, hard work and transition. With some clever mice and a pumpkin car, join Jamie as she becomes…Jamie.
You’ve just released your new Pop’n’Olly video ‘Jamie’. Can you tell us a bit more about the video.
Jamie is a fairytale based on the classic story of Cinderella, but of course as with all Pop’n’Olly videos, there is a LGBT+ twist. Jamie is a character who discovers he is transgender. We see Jamie at the beginning of the story not quite knowing what is wrong, but just not feeling right in the body he has. However we see over the course of the story, a transition into the person that Jamie always was inside.
Yet this is not the only theme of Jamie. This story is also about working hard to achieve what you want and not relying on quick fixes.
Jamie is not a transgender story to end all transgender stories – everyones journey is different and this is just one story, this is Jamie’s story. If anything, I hope it encourages others to write more content like this, as it is surely needed.
Why did you decide to cover this theme for the video?
Pop’n’Olly is about diversity and equality education, and to do this our stories must reflect all different kinds of people. It felt hugely important to cover this subject, it felt like the next natural step following our same sex romance fairy tale, Prince Henry, and our Pride based story, Little Red Riding Dude. We are a channel that teaches LGBT+ education, so how could we not?
Image : Jamie and his brothers
“We see Jamie at the beginning of the story not quite knowing what is wrong, but just not feeling right in the body he has. However we see over the course of the story, a transition into the person that Jamie always was inside.”
Why do you think this subject is important for you to cover?
There is a distinct lack of children’s material that covers this subject. How can we teach inclusiveness without the resources to do so?
Also there are many children who have experience with being or knowing someone who is transgender, whether it be the child themselves, or perhaps a parent, sibling or a friend. It is important for them to know what is happening and also that it is ok.
Before starting the production of the video, did you run your idea past anyone you know who is transgender to see what their reaction was like? How important was doing this to you?
Yes, this was important. I do know what it is like to feel different, however I do not have first hand experience of what is like to be transgender. So yes I wanted to run it past a few people who did have experience first, as it was vital that I told this story in the correct way. I was very grateful for the time and advice I received from various individuals who looked over this story, and they were very happy with what I had come up with. They even helped me to further my understanding of being transgender, which has been fantastic and wonderful to learn.
Watch : Jamie – A transgender fairytale
“There is a distinct lack of children’s material that covers this subject. How can we teach inclusiveness without the resources to do so?”
You worked with one of our former Network Buzz magazine cover stars Lewis Hancox too. How did the collaboration come about?
Lewis is awesome, he voiced one of the brothers in the video and did such a brilliant job, he is a very funny and creative guy. I met him earlier this year and we both discovered we make videos for YouTube, so after checking each others work out we quickly decided we needed to collaborate at some point! His videos are brilliant, funny and inspiring, I recommend checking them out.
It was brilliant to have Lewis, who is so influential amongst the transgender community anyway, involved and I was chuffed when he said he was up for voicing one of the characters. In fact it was also him that I ran the story past a few times first to get his thoughts on it.
What are your hopes for this video? We spotted there’s an accompanying book too?
I just hope it brings about what it needs to. Education. I hope it teaches, like Prince Henry and Little Red Riding Dude, that we are all different, that our journey in this life is individual and that of course we are all equal.
And yes the book, it would be great if it went down as well as Prince Henry – which is now currently being used in a number of schools and classrooms around the UK. I’ve even shipped copies of Prince Henry across Europe, the USA and Australia. We’ve had it translated into welsh by the wonderful ‘Digon’ a group of pupils in year 10-13 from Ysgol Plasmawr in Cardiff, and there are still more things to come.
The Loose Women panel have been criticised for their comments about transgender people. When discussing the topic, Nadia Sawalha compared it to a fashion trend among young people. She said: “Last year my step daughter told me the ‘in’ thing at school was self harming, and then before that it had been throwing up. You know, fashionable words that have been taken on. The other day, [my children] were playing, and we actually heard from the other room, ‘which one of us is going to be transgender?’ – can you imagine that, even a year ago?” – What are your thoughts on these comments?
I definitely do not believe being transgender is a trend. Like many other attributes of being LGBT, I do not feel it is a choice or something someone can control. Only the individual knows how one truly feels inside.
From what I’ve learned, being transgender involves quite a journey, which can be difficult at times. I think these comments are unfair and also potentially hurtful.
Image : Jamie becoming himself, with a little help from his friends
When we interviewed you last November you were just embarking on your journey of producing LGBT+ themed videos and you were feeling a bit nervous about the reaction they would get. You clearly needn’t have worried as the reaction has been amazing. What are your highlights from the last 12 months?
Firstly having produced a book has been a highlight most definitely and of course selling so many all over the UK and the world. Also getting this book into an actual book shop (Gays the Word) felt like such an achievement. It also created a bit of a buzz, I had various TV and radio interviews which was all very exciting, but when it came down to it, it was actually a great platform to speak about equality for the LGBT+ community and to show others that we can talk to and teach children about these subjects.
Also the people I have met this year have been so inspiring, video makers, authors, campaigners, teachers, artists, organisations, charities, many of whom are LGBT+ and who are making a difference.
Congratulations on being featured as ‘one to watch’ on the recent Independent on Sunday Rainbow List. What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be featured and how important is recognition like this to you?
This was very cool, to be recognised feels good. It feels like my hard work is paying off, and although that’s not why we do the things we do, it is nice to know that you are doing a good job. It inspires you to keep going, to keep creating and to keep challenging – yourself and others.
Image : Never give up. A hard days work with lots of brightness to come
A transgender actor is number one on the list too. Did you get to chat to Riley Carter Millington? I bet you can’t wait to share the video with him?
Seeing Riley make number one just goes to show how current these topics are, we are at an exciting time where we can talk about these themes, where we can tell these stories and where we can see people like Riley and other role models on our TV screens. It’s ground breaking and it’s important. It is one step closer to equality for all. I would love him to see the video!
Image : Jamie jumps in his pimped up pumpkin and catches the eye of the Princess
What are your plans for 2016?
To work hard. The team at Pop’n’Olly have an exciting project we are working on at the moment to do with an event next year, which will be a great achievement for us if it happens – so very much looking forward to that.
And now that our YouTube channel has estabilshed itself with what it is, I’d like to have fun. I want to create some more comedy videos, maybe even some music or some songs, who knows? Wait and see and subscribe!
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