The 47th Daytime Emmy Awards were announced on Thursday, and the new trans centered web series "King Ester" received four nominations.
"King Ester" tells the story of a trans woman struggling to find her path in New Orleans during the week before Hurricane Katrina. In the face of an evacuation order, she is forced to make a choice that will impact her future forever. The digital drama debuted in 2019 on Issa Rae's (Insecure) YouTube channel.
Rowin Amone, nominated in the best actress digital drama category, plays the title role of Ester Pappion. Playing opposite Amone and nominated in the best supporting actress in a digital drama category is the original Aunt Viv (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Janet Hubert.
"King Ester" is the brain-child of series director/writer Dui Jarrod, who also received nominations for outstanding writing and directing in a digital drama.
Jarrod and Amone spoke to Madamenoire last fall about the Black trans character at the center of their Emmy nominated show, the lives of real Black trans women, art as activism and the importance of parents accepting their trans kids.
MN: Another thing that struck me in the first episode was Ester’s mother—played by Janet Hubert. She’s supportive of her transition. She calls her by her name. And we don’t really get to see a lot of Black parents being supportive. So it was really interesting to see a mother who is on board and advocating for her daughter.
Rowin: It’s so beautiful because like you said that representation isn’t there and in real life. I come from a family who isn’t very supportive of my transition and how I choose to live my life and who I am in its entirety. So for Dui to write a loving, accepting, nurturing, supporting mother figure, being that that’s the only parent that she does have, was beyond, beyond a blessing for me because I don’t experience that. So in a way, it kind of made me feel welcome and more at home and more affirmed than I do in my normal life.
Dui: In episode 5, probably the best monologue. Oh my goodness, Rowin delivers this beautiful monologue that expresses that relationship with her mother. And it’s just—it moves me almost every time I hear it. Because it’s so matter of fact and it’s so simple. Love is—it’s not that hard to love somebody. It’s really not. People complicate that with expectations and bullsh*t. But it’s really not hard to love someone.
MN: Rowin, how much does art have to be advocacy at this point in your career, telling this type of story? And what do you want people to take away from your portrayal of Ester?
Rowin: I’ll start with the art and the advocacy in my art. At first, I wasn’t about it but now I know that I have a duty to my community, to the Black trans community to represent us well every chance that I get. So now, it’s null and void for me not to consider advocacy in my art.
Dui: Which is unfair.
Rowin: It’s totally unfair.
Dui: I think that you should just be able to be an artist. You don’t have to be an activist. But because of the social position that you’re in and the fact that you are being elevated, it forces you into that lane.
Rowin: But what I would like for people to take away from the series is Ester’s humanity and just the humanity in all of these characters. It’s a very universal story. Someone can find themselves in any of these characters, whether their experiences are exactly the same or not. At the end of the day, it’s about love, acceptance and support. I just want people to look at it as a human story.