The TV movie “Il est elle” on transidentified aired on TF1 aroused a lot of emotion. Actor Jonathan Zaccaï, the interpreter of Emma’s father, the young transgender girl, tells us more about the fiction and how he approached this project.
He is she : a poignant TV movie about transidentity
TV movie He is she is directed by Clément Michel. It follows the life of Juju, a young girl born into a boy’s body. Sabine and Cédric’s life is turned upside down, the day they realize that their son wants to start steps to make a transition to the female gender. A news not easy to take for the latter who react in a different way. Now, Emma, the young teenager has to face many painful situations and will have to be courageous and determined. Jonathan Zaccaï, plays the father of the family, who will have a hard time accepting the transition of his child, to the point that it will be very difficult for him. The actor opens up about his role and tells us more about fiction.
How did you approach the shoot?
I really wanted to work with Clément Michel and the subject is very strong. There are films that we make for a role or for a subject. And there, that’s really the idea of the project, because it’s quite beautiful to work for this problem, and in addition on a big channel like TF1. We obviously have discussed a lot with Andréa (because the actress herself made her transition to being female) and we’ve seen documentaries about it. So I really wanted to defend this character and understand him, because I tell myself that he probably looks like some fathers, who have trouble accepting the transidentity of their child. That’s why these projects are important, it’s made to open minds.
How do you explain Cédric’s behavior towards his child?
He loves his children, of course, but then all of a sudden he’s faced with principles that go beyond him. It has nothing to do with her child, it’s a problem of open-mindedness, which is undoubtedly also linked to his past. It is very difficult for him to accept the idea and then to follow the direction of his child. So he’s going to get a little more unpredictable and a little more violent. The love he feels is expressed as fear and worry. In fact, they have a quiet, fairly bourgeois life and this decision turns everything upside down. He doesn’t want to be stared at by others. As a parent, you are obviously afraid of what can happen to your children. This fear makes him become an obstacle. In wanting to protect her, he does the opposite and is harsh and cruel.
Does he have to mourn his son to accept his transition?
There is a very harsh scene in the TV movie He is she which demonstrates that well. He tells her that he will not be able to say “her” when speaking of him because for him he is almost dead. He has to accept that one of the most precious people in the world to him become someone else, in any case that’s how he saw it. Children who embark on this process of change can be very hard on their parents’ incomprehension, because for them, there is a real urgency. These children need to free themselves and the people who prevent them from doing so, whether through incomprehension or out of love, it is necessarily unfair in their eyes.
What message would you like to convey through the TV movie He is she ?
I believe in listening to children. They are a safe bet because they speak from their heart. When your child thinks he was born in the wrong body, it doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is necessary consider his word as something importantt, because it’s something they carry with them. You have to be open to what’s going on and rule as quickly as possible. This project enlightened me on the subject of transidentity and I wish Andrea Furet (Emma’s interpreter) to have straight cisgender girl roles, it’s important and it’s beautiful to play different things, because she is a very beautiful actress.