The Men of Issa Rae’s New YouTube Web Series “King Ester” Share the Importance of Protecting a Trans Woman

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Some people yearn for security. It’s a simple yet complex need that is essential to the way one navigates through the world. Security alleviates the anxieties that come with fear. It creates a force field that is meant to protect one’s well-being. Although protection is a fundamental right, it’s not often shared or offered to specific groups of people due to systematic oppression and the lack of knowledge. In the Dui Jarrod-produced web series, King Ester, we are introduced to characters who are fighting for a sense of belonging. They are learning to accept their personal truths while living in a community that ostracizes them.

The series is centered around leading lady Ester, who is trans. She is a self-aware woman with dreams of leaving her mark on the world and is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. As confident and brass as she may be, the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around her seems minute and is not of her concern. “I crafted Ester with the notion of her being fully aware of who she is as a person, and the world around her needed to make a shift towards change. I strategically placed this character in a family specifically with a brother who should have the most reasons to love her but doesn’t understand the concept of being trans and is slow to accept who she is. As a writer, this was extremely difficult to come up with but I felt the importance of sharing the dynamics between the two,” said Jarrod.  

Like many of us, Ester faces obstacles that are holding her back from achieving her full potential. As cliché as it sounds, things like love, support and conformity are desired but this lacking could create an exhausting search for fulfillment. LJ Scott, who plays Damien, becomes Ester’s confidant and safety net as she tries to escape being objectified for survival. According to Scott, “My character Damien is Ester’s safe place. Everything Ester ever wanted or had expectations for Damion has. However, he himself is dealing with the acceptance of his own sexuality, which is something that Ester has already accomplished and what Damien admires about her.”

A home is deemed one’s secure space, a place that should be free of judgment. Whether it’s a mother, brother, or friend, our hope is to have a home that serves as a safe space to express ourselves fully without being looked down upon. As King, Ester’s brother played by Martin Bradford, witnesses her transformation firsthand, he is slow to accept, confused and not sure how to support her due to the provincial mindsets of outside influences and personal beliefs. But he innately knows that he has a responsibility to protect his sister. “I play King and he represents that black man who is trying but may not have the proper education or the words to interact with someone who is considered trans. Our society wasn’t designed for us to enter into those types of conversations smoothly. As we have evolved, so should the lessons surrounding gender and sex, which is why this project is so important. King has done damage but he’s trying to heal and grow from his mistakes,” Bradford tells us.

The King Ester series is a coming of age story that speaks to the realities of today. It’s relatable and forces the audience to look at the importance of identity through familiar lenses. The show can now be viewed on Youtube as a part of the Issa Rae Presents channel. We owe it to ourselves to ignite the conversations of how we can protect all women. “Many of us take our human rights for granted. People within the LGBTQ community aren’t receiving their allowed human rights by default. Everyone wants to be accepted; none of us should hold dominion over someone’s pure existence and humanity. It should be so easy, but for whatever reason people make it so hard,” Bradford explains.

Check out the first episode of King Ester below.

Photo Credit: Robert Warren

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