Proving that Ava DuVernay's hit OWN series Queen Sugar is one of the most diverse and progressive dramas currently on TV, one of the newest characters to be introduced, Toine Wilkins, identifies as transgender and shares a heartfelt moment of vulnerability with the show's male lead, Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe).
Now the man behind the new face is speaking out, using his role to show that art can imitate life, as he is now coming out to the world as transgender himself.
Brian Michael Smith recently opened up to NBC Out contributor and fellow trans man Tiq Milan about his decision to disclose his gender identity now after five years of keeping it to himself.
"I've had really good experiences with my career so far," he said. "I started training professionally about six years ago, really learning the craft and being really dedicated to making a profession out of my desire to act, and I feel like this is one of the first roles that is really hitting my interests as an artist and as a person."
Smith, who has appeared in other television titans like Girls, Blue Bloods and Law and Order, has not played a trans character before his most recent role. Speaking on why he chose to wait, he explained that he "needed to figure out how he could get good at it."
"I'd been doing it since I was younger, and was out there and performing, but I really wasn't having the real experiences, so I was trying to figure out what would it take for me to do that," he added. "When I got into my training, I realized that you really had to bring all of yourself to your roles. And you have to create the roles with your experience to inform what you're doing."
Take a look at stills from Smith's powerful scene on Queen Sugar, below:
We applaud Smith for his bravery and talent!
Watch Ava DuVernay talk about the diversity in the series with BET Breaks, above.
(Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)