Pretty Little Liars wasn’t the first to use a transgender villain. Fans of 80s horror might recall a little film called Sleepaway Camp (1983), in which young Angela Baker (played by Felissa Rose) was not what she appeared to be in more ways than one. There have been others through the intervening years, yet fans are condemning the Pretty Little Liars showrunner for her use of a transgender character, for which I. Marlene King has an assertive response.
“We certainly did not jump on the bandwagon,” Pretty Little Liars E.P. King said. “We definitely came up with this idea three and a half years ago. I mean, it’s been a long time in the works and if you go back and you watch the CeCe episodes — because I went back and rewatched every single one, and reread all the scripts to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes in this finale — we’ve told you she is ‘A’ so many times.”
Pretty Little Liars‘ own CeCe Drake, aka Vanessa Ray, has also stepped up to defend her character and reveal what it was like to play the big villain. Ms. Ray reveals that there were clues leading up to the big A reveal throughout several seasons of Pretty Little Liars.
“I’ve always known that CeCe was doing more than being sassy. But this explains where her sociopathic tendencies came from and why she is like this. Of course when I found out I was ‘A’ I went back and looked at every conversation and every line of dialogue. I was like ‘Oh, I should have known all along.'”
As far as any backlash over the Charles DiLaurentis storyline on Pretty Little Liars is concerned, Ms. Ray is eager to see the concept, as complex as it is, accepted by PLL fans, even when transgender issues are as polarized as they currently are in today’s society.
“This is a relatively new conversation in this country. We have some amazing people that are standing up for transgender people and it’s very cool to see that. I was bursting with the desire to talk about it and have conversations and see where the country is at,” the Pretty Little Liars actress said. “My only concern was that people were going to think it was calculated, but it’s not. This was a really bold move on [our creator’s] end.”
On a lighter side, Vanessa reveals that she’s found it intriguing to play CeCe Drake.
“She’s complicated,” Ray said of her Pretty Little Liars character. “She’s a broken doll herself, so she plays with the dolls. Being ‘A,’ it’s cool. I kinda feel like I get to be a little bit bitchy and have a reason for it now!”
Vanessa Ray was present at last night’s Teen Choice Awards, where she was nominated for Choice TV Villain, and Ms. Ray gushed about being included in the category.
“Isn’t that cool?! I’m very excited,” the Pretty Little Liars star said of the nomination. “I can’t believe that I got nominated for it! It’s cool because it’s actually like, the show really is ‘A’ and I’m lucky enough to get to embody that.”
Incidentally, Ms. Ray won the Choice TV Villain award.
Pretty Little Liars returns in January on ABC Family.
[Featured image: Vanessa Ray courtesy of ABC Family/Pretty Little Liars]