Taylor Swift casts trans model as love interest in music video
Taylor Swift dropped a new music video for her song "Lavender Haze" at midnight on Friday, in which her love interest is played by a trans model, Laith Ashley. He and some of Swift's fans applauded her for casting a trans man, giving representation to other trans people.
"Thank you [Taylor Swift] for allowing me to play a small part in your story," Laith Ashley, whose full name is Laith Ashley De La Cruz, wrote on Instagram. "You are brilliant and this is an experience I will never forget. It was truly magical."
Swift directed the music video, which is for the second single off of her newest album "Midnights." Ashley said Swift's storytelling abilities continues to leave him "in awe, inspired, and hopeful."
A post shared by Laith Ashley De La Cruz (@laith_ashley)
He also thanked her for giving others representation with his casting. "Thank you for being an ally. Representation matters," he wrote. "AND LOVE WILL ALWAYS WIN!"
Ashley has also appeared in "Pose" and a music video for drag queen Manila Luzon's song "That's a Man Maury." He was also on the reality series "Strut."
He was the first transgender man to be featured in a Diesel campaign, according to his IMDB bio. Before becoming a model and actor, he was a counselor for homeless youth in New York City.
Fans and friends left congratulatory comments on Ashley's post about the "Lavender Haze" music video. "Thank you for representing all trans and being part of history for us all. Beautiful music video," one commenter wrote.
"Your impact is absolutely not a small part," another wrote.
"You are an inspiration to the lgbtq+ community," commented another.
A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift)
Swift also posted about the music video on her Instagram, sharing several photos from the shoot. "There is my incredible costar [Laith Ashley] who I absolutely adored working with," she wrote. "This was the first video I wrote out of the 3 that have been released, and this one really helped me conceptualize the world and mood of Midnights, like a sultry sleepless 70's fever dream. Hope you like it."
Swift also directed the music video for "Antihero," the first single off of her latest album. And she has directed other music videos in the past, including one for "You Need to Calm Down" with Drew Kirsch, and "All Too Well: The Short Film," which both earned her an MTV Video Music Award for best direction. The latter also received a Grammy nomination for best music video and could also be submitted to the Oscars, according to ET.
The video for "You Need to Calm Down" featured themes of LGBTQ acceptance and is filled with celebrities, most of them an integral part of LGBTQ visibility: Laverne Cox, Dexter Mayfield, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Justin Mikita, Hayley Kiyoko, Chester Lockhart, and RuPaul, as well as cast members of "RuPaul's Drag Race." She also highlighted the Equality Act at the end of the video. The bill would protect LGBTQ rights.
Swift has also advocated for LGBTQ rights and the bill several other times. In 2019, while performing "You Need to Calm Down" at the VMAs, she showed support for the bill and called out the Trump administration for not responding to a petition that urged lawmakers to swiftly pass it.
"In this video, several points were made, so you voting for the video means that you want a world where we're all treated equally under the law, regardless of who we love, regardless of how we identify," Swift said during her acceptance speech for the fan-voted Video of the Year award.
It was announced last year that Swift will write and direct a movie produced by Searchlight Pictures, the film company said, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Caitlin O'Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.