Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl reveals that she's transgender.
That’s the basic setup of the romance between Rick Forrester (Jacob Young) and Maya Avant (Karla Mosley) on CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful. Earlier this year B&B viewers found out Maya had been keeping her transition a secret from Rick, afraid she'd lose him if he found out.
The 28-year old series threw several soap opera tropes into the story, including a bitter younger sister who threatened to expose Maya and a villain who revealed the secret in the tabloids.
But instead of being reduced to a victim, she triumphed: Last month, Maya and Rick were married in a lavish wedding.
This is a soap, though, so before the ceremony there was an ugly confrontation with Maya’s father (Obba Babatunde), who admitted he couldn’t accept her. But Maya’s mother (Anna Maria Horsford) turned on her husband after years of following his bigoted lead. The storyline was so well done, I expect Daytime Emmy nominations all around.
“I think many of us can relate to [Maya] whether we’re dealing with gender identity or race—or are just at odds with our family,” Mosley, 34, told me.
“It can be challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, to find common ground. That’s heartbreaking because at the bottom we always want our parents' approval, no matter what.”
When Mosley came to Bold & the Beautiful in 2013, it wasn't apparent Maya was transgender—but the experience of being a cisgender actress playing the role has taught her volumes.
“I think the biggest thing is that all people just want to live their lives without being in fear," she says. "We all deserve that. We all deserve the best. It’s a very simple thing.”
Besides working with GLAAD to prepare for the role, Mosley also came to rely on co-star Scott Turner Schofield, a trans actor who joined the show as Nick, a trans character who would go on to officiate Maya and Rick’s wedding.
Schofield admitted he had some concerns when he first heard of the turn in Maya’s story.
“I thought immediately of that scene in Soapdish,” where Cathy Moriarty’s character is revealed to be transgender, and it's played for crude laughs.
“I actually liked that movie before I knew what it was doing, when I was part of the culture where it’s like ‘existence of trans person equals hilarious.’”
Thankfully, Schofield’s concerns disappeared when he saw how B&B writers were crafting Maya’s journey.
“What I love so much about the story was that it showed every single side of it,” he explains. “Without being moralistic, it showed you who the villains were by their actions. Outing somebody was a villainous act.”
Mosley recalls talking with Schofield about the scene when, before the wedding, Maya hears her father disparaging her. “We would talk about the pain in my overhearing what he said,” she explains.
“Scott’s had that experience personally—that really meant a lot to me. I stand by [the storyline] and I think our writers are doing a really wonderful job, [but] to have someone who's had that experience be 100% behind it allowed me to really stand strong in that role.”
Now that Maya is fully out and married the man of her dreams, should the show keep her involved in transcentric storylines, or just work her into the general mix of things?
“It’s a balance,” says Mosley. “We don’t want to just completely negate the fact that that’s who she is—her past, her history and her background—but it’s also not something we want to bring up at every turn. Because she’s just a woman living her life like every other woman.”
Mosley also points out that there are several juicy story points still dangling that can be explored in the future.
“One of the big ones is what’s going to happen between Maya and her father,” she says. “I think that’ll be interesting to see. I love Maya’s family and that dynamic including the mom and sister. I think it’s really just nuanced and rich and real. I’m excited to dig into that.”
And while Maya seems to have gotten her happy ending, that doesn’t mean there won’t be drama in the future.
“Maya is a public figure so the haters are still out there,” Schofield reminds me. “That’s definitely part of it. Having children, that’s a part of it too, if that’s what they want to do.”
The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays on CBS.