Alicia Vikander received an award yesterday for “Best Supporting Actress” at the Critics’ Choice Awards in California, having garnered immense critical acclaim for her role in The Danish Girl, a biopic of the true story of Gerda (Vikander) and Einar Wegener (Redmayne). In the film, Vikander gave a moving performance as the supportive spouse of her husband, as he unwittingly discovers his true gender identity as female – as Lili – and embarks on a terrifying journey to authenticity as a transgender woman. Vikander’s win of the award lends greater veracity to critics’ assessments of the relationship between Alicia and Eddie’s characters, which is widely considered to be poignant, disarmingly authentic and powerfully emotive.
Swedish-born Vikander can now be credited with more than mastery of the actress’ craft, having contributed to the broadening of representations of people in the LGBTIQ community in the high-profile Hollywood film industry. Her award-winning role tells a story – described, in Alicia’s own words, as ‘very important to tell’ – of love, deeper than skin and stronger than social prejudice, for her partner both as a heterosexual male and a transgender woman.
The under-representation of members of the LGBTIQ community and the issues faced by its members are the subject of increasingly public discourse, and Alicia Vikander is not the first star to instigate an awareness-raising conversation on the matter. The Inquisitr previously reported on Caitlyn Jenner’s discussion of discrimination and low-ratings for her autobiographical documentary, I Am Cait, as some of the many challenges for transgender individuals in Hollywood.
Researchers at the University of Southern Carolina conducted a study of diversity in 700 popular films released between 2007 and 2014, and reported findings of extreme under-representation: not one Transgender character was portrayed. Moreover, representations of romantic LGB relationships were distorted, with less than five percent of LGB characters being in a healthy, committed relationship; leaving Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne’s on-screen relationship an exception to the hetero-normative rule.
It is a cultural stigma that Hollywood’s productions could be moving away from: Alicia is one of many actors starring in on-screen depictions of LGBT relationships. Blockbuster feature film Carol, in which a married woman falls irrevocably – and eventually, unashamedly – in love with an innocuous shop girl-cum-soul-mate, saw fellow Swede Rooney Mara join Alicia Vikander’s ranks as a nominee in the same category.
The proliferation of what could be termed “happy-endings” in LGBTIQ relationships in film and television – such as that of Alicia’s character, Gerda, and Lili – promises greater awareness of a misrepresented community. The blind love and unwavering support of Vikander’s character for her partner is strengthened rather than extinguished in the course of Lili’s identity transformation. Ross Semple of U.K. diversity-pride hub Pink News articulated the community’s frustration in response to the study’s findings.
“It seems that a decade after ‘Brokeback Mountain’, LGBT characters still aren’t being portrayed as a regular part of every day life,” said the statement.
Both Alicia and Eddie are said to have taken great inspiration from transgender people in understanding, development and authentic portrayal of their characters, with Vikander extending thanks to her father, a psychologist, for his help in this regard as well. Vikander’s eloquent acceptance speech, which touched on the inspiring Wegeners and her co-star’s reciprocated support, could not be outshone by her elegant gown.
“I was very happy… to shed light and bring light to a story… about two very pioneering women who went on a big journey together,” said Vikander.
Critics and fans now keenly await the release of upcoming blockbusters promising more award-winning performances by Alicia Vikander, who is set to star alongside Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans this year. Vikander will also play a leading role in a yet-to-be-titled Bourne sequel to be released this July.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]