“To those women who bear their souls and expose themselves to large-scale criticism, you inspired me to continue in this industry. You helped me trust that I, too, could be a positive influence for someone out there. You are my heroes.”
The 23-year-old multidisciplinary talent Anthony Lexa expresses her gratitude for other trans women paving the way for her and other trans artists.
Lexa’s recent monumental role as Abbi, in the hit Netflix series ‘Sex Education,’ she and her co-star Felix Mutti were the first trans couple in mainstream media. Anthony Lexa acknowledges and celebrates all the other trans artists who came before her and mentions explicitly the beloved SOPHIE, who gave her an enormous sense of determination.
“Passion wins. Love wins. Art wins,” Lexa says, whose passion for the arts was born out of love for ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and continued with dance school, acting, and music. Raised in Devon’s countryside, Anthony Lexa reveals she felt ‘othered’ and not seen.
Sharing her new single, ‘Sleepy,’ Lexa dives into the lack of stability and desperation for validation and escapism. Often finding comfort in music and songwriting, Anthony Lexa feels free to express who she really is with her lyrics and the platform she has built.
“Any excuse to be a nerd about music, and I’m one happy Ant,” says Anthony Lexa as we begin our chat. With her collaborative EP ‘TTime’ with best friend and co-star Felix Mutti, the duo presents unapologetic and fabulous.
If you would like to experience the Anthony Lexa & Felix Mutti mash-up, you can join them at the Glory on December 11th for an unforgettable celebration of trans art.
You grew up in the rural countryside of Devon, could you expand on how this influenced you as a person?
It has always felt like a true privilege of mine to have been brought up surrounded by such beautiful landscapes and fresh air. But Devon can be an isolating place. The vast expanse of countryside and lack of community can be overwhelming when you’re a kid, especially one growing up queer and artistic. The lack of diversity around me made it easy for me to feel ‘othered’, particularly as I got older and started to understand my gender and sexuality more explicitly. I think that’s why I always found such solace in music. It gave me a creative outlet to express and explore my queerness, when I was unable to with those around me and I think that’s why song writing is still such a necessary processing tool and cathartic experience for me even today.
Who did you look up to when growing up?
When you don’t see yourself reflected in the community around you, representation in the media becomes even more vital. For me, I grew up listening to queer icons like ‘The Scissor Sisters’ and the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ that made me feel like expressing yourself creatively was encouraged, beautiful and above all fun.
Who in the public eye made you feel seen?
As a trans woman, it took a long time to see myself represented positively in main stream media. However, when I was about seventeen I remember stumbling across ‘SOPHIE’s music. She is a trans feminine, hyper-pop producer that created unapologetically queer and experimental dance music. It took my breath away to hear something so different begin to infiltrate the major music scene. I hope that she knew how important she was for so many of us, before she passed; she carved a space in the pop music industry that gave trans artists like myself a sense of determination that we, too, can follow our dreams. Passion wins. Love wins. Art wins.
What was your first passion acting or music?
Performing art for me has always felt like more than a passion, it’s felt like part of me. It may sound super nerdy, but it’s just been the method in which I process. Either to process life, or myself, or explore parts of me that I can’t in the normal everyday.
Dancing was actually the first thing I fell into. It just came from my love of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, and when I started my first dance class I just got into acting from there. Music came later when I was in Devon, as I didn’t have the regular dance classes or local shows. As I began to step outside of the gender binary, writing music became therapy for me. A place where I didn’t have to pretend to be something I wasn’t or fit a ‘role’ that didn’t feel like me. I had free rein to explore who I was.
Do you remember the phone call when you got the call about landing a role of Abbi in the fourth and final season of Netflix’s hit series Sex Education?
It’s a funny story actually. The auditioning process had gone on for half a year at that point, and it seemed like such an unbelievable goal. I remember my partner at the time was running late for work and he was literally leaving the door when I picked up the phone from Lauren Evans, the amazing casting director of ‘Sex Education’. He hung there for a second, wide-eyed, and I just waved my arms like “I’ve got it”, whilst still on the phone. All he could do was a silent cheer and then had to rush out the door, and I remember sitting in my empty flat like “wow my life is gong to be a bit different from now on”. Then I immediately called my costar Felix Mufti to tell him that I was going to be the other half of the first T4T couple on mainstream media.
Were you a fan of the show before?
I don’t know many people who aren’t fans of ‘Sex Ed’. But I definitely was one. It’s such a surreal experience to become part of a series that you have so much love for. I just hoped that I’d do it justice and try to remember to still bring myself and my own nuance. It was such a treasured show with already established, well-loved characters and definitely brought a level of pressure to the job.
Your character was monumental for the trans community, especially trans women. Could you name other moments in pop culture where you felt it embodied the representation you wish you saw when growing up?
Being called ‘monumental’ always brings up a certain level of imposter syndrome. It does mean the world, but all I could hope is that people feel seen or comforted by my art as I, by no means, feel like a role model.
It is hopeful though, as someone LGBT+, to see the growing positive representation of queerness in mainstream media. A moment that stood out for me was the TV show ‘Pose’. A series that not only centred trans characters, but also delicately shone a light on the AIDS crisis in a way that still made queer people seem joyous and spirited and complex. Watching it, as an eighteen year old baby trans girl, was a core memory for me and something I wished I had been exposed to at a younger age, when it felt like unhappiness was all I was going to experience in life.
Now we’re in 2023, seeing characters like Jules in ‘Euphoria’ and Elle in ‘Heartstopper’ has just given me hope that trans women aren’t going to be tokenised anymore. We can play characters that aren’t just sad, they have depth and happiness and nuance like the rest of society. To those women who bear their souls and exposed themselves to large scale criticism, you inspired me to continue in this industry. You helped me trust that I, too, could be a positive influence for someone out there. You are my heroes.
What are your favourite things about your role in Sex Education? Do you have any similarities with the character?
Abbi definitely has some work to do on herself, but I am deeply fond of her. I think I can relate to her people pleasing tendencies. That fear that if you’re not ‘perfect’, people will leave you. It felt nice to explore that, and actually let Abbi express herself fully and still be loved. Hopefully, I can take that learning into my own life.
Also, it felt important to explore Abbi’s faith. I was raised Catholic and, like most LGBT+ people, have a complex relationship with religion. So, being able to play someone who was so desperately trying to knit together her queerness with her spirituality felt really special. I hope it helped someone out there to feel less alone in their exploration of their own intersection between gender expression and faith.
What were some of the favourite memories from the set?
‘Sex Education’ really is such a family. I was worried that it would feel exclusive when we began filming, or that I wouldn’t fit in. But from my very first day on set, I was so welcomed by the cast and everything felt so easy and fun. It really is like going to a school, but a super fun and queer friendly school where everyone spends all day making you laugh.
Most of my favourite memories revolve around Aimee Lou-Wood bringing me to tears with laughter. She does the funniest impressions of other cast members, or people we both know, and they were always so accurate but filled with love and it would just send me to hysterics. I learnt so much about star signs from Ncuti Gatwa too, and they always made me feel so seen and understood, I loved working with them so much. And being able to do it all with my best friend, Felix Mufti, by my side… I couldn’t be more grateful for such a beautiful experience.
How did you and your Sex Education co-star Felix Mufti decide to make music together? What is the main messaging of your collaborative EP ’T Time’?
I learnt that Felix wrote his own wrap verses, and was recording music before we even began filming together. He came to stay with me for my birthday prior to our first day on set, and I remember we started sharing our upcoming music and just inspiring each other so much. He continues to inspire me to this day, and I think that’s what we wanted our EP to focus on. It’s just about being unapologetically who you are and believing that good things will come. That is what Felix has always helped me to do, and I wanted to pass that belief system onto our listeners.
What is the backstory of your new single ‘Sleepy’?
‘Sleepy’ was written as a sequel to my first single ‘Early Nights’, which centred around my wish for wholesome love and peaceful routine. However, ‘Sleepy’ is a much darker sound and its lyrics are more inspired by the feeling of when you get into bed early but the last thing on your mind is sleep. It’s a song of desperation for validation and escapism with a real lack of stability, reflected in the stark sonic contrast of the chorus and verses. Each verse is ethereal sounding, written in a major key and accompanied by harps and relaxed acoustic guitars, whilst the chorus is filled with a heavy, hip-hop inspired beat and aggressive spoken vocals.
What are the main causes you would like to dedicate your time using your rising platform?
The main thing I’ve always hoped for, is that my art can help people feel seen. I want my music to be like a hug for those that grow up feeling othered in the way that I did, and just to let them know it will get better.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity recently of partnering with ‘GoFundMe’, who are the largest fundraising platform for trans people raising money for gender affirming healthcare or surgeries. Every other week I am hosting ‘Fundraiser Friday’ on my platforms, where we raise awareness of a different trans person’s fundraiser to give them a platform to express who they are as a person, outside of being trans. It’s also a great excuse to celebrate other trans people’s art and creativity.
You and Felix will be hosting and performing at The Glory in December. Can you tell us anything about what your fans can expect from this show?
Yes, I’m so excited! I just want it to feel like a real celebration of trans art. Some of my best friends are performing alongside me, and we’re all going to be going crazy in the crowd when we’re not on stage. Felix and I are keen to make people feel comfortable there and just able to have a good time, no matter how they identify. Let’s go party together!
What is next for you?
All I could hope for is that I’m still being inspired and enjoying as much art as I am now. I am very excited with new bands like ‘Fizz’ on the horizon, and albums like ‘Snow Angel’ and ‘Messy’ from which I gained so much, and I hope that in five years I am still being pushed to adapt and develop my own art through inspiration.
I also hope that I can see many more trans and queer artists along side me, who can collaborate with and empower me to keep creating myself. On the note of collaborations, it would be a dream to have worked with some of my favourite artists in five years. The names that stand out are Loyle Carner, Disclosure and Dodie.
Also, if my boobs are another size bigger that would be great.