Talk about a twist! Soap fans are used to dramatic developments happening on a daily basis, but The Bold and the Beautiful introduced a groundbreaking story line for one of its characters that's the first of its kind on network television.
On March 18, the CBS soap revealed that model Maya Ivant (Karla Mosley), who debuted on the show in early 2013, was actually born male. Mosley told Us Weekly that she was shocked when producers informed her of her character's new arc.
"I didn't expect daytime to be taking on a story like this," Mosley said. But after she picked up her jaw from the floor, she's been researching, consulting GLAAD, and trying to do the story justice.
"As someone who is an artist and an activist I know how important trans issues are — how it's life and death for people at this point," said Mosley, who sits on the board of Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth. "The more that we in Hollywood can help people to understand what it is to be transgender, what that experience might be like for someone, and just to normalize it, I think we have the possibility of really changing some hearts and lives."
She continued, "I think that that's probably part of why they came to me with this — in addition to the fact that it really fits Maya's story in this kind of amazing way that no one could've ever predicted, I think that they also knew that I would be totally ready and willing to talk about these things in an open way."
That means Mosley is ready to take the good and the bad — the praise and the thanks along with possible boycotts and outcry. "I am very engaged on social media and I'm prepared to continue to engage with people," she said. "I think that boycotts are possible, but I also think there's a possibility of really being embraced by some audiences that might not have been watching."
Although Orange Is the New Black and Transparent prominently feature transgender characters (and actors), and Glee introduced a storyline in its final season that saw one character transition from male to female, The Bold and the Beautiful's Maya is the first regular transgender character on broadcast television.
"We reach a demographic that might not watch prime time, that might not stream; we're in over 100 countries. We have over 35 million viewers or something crazy like that," Mosley explained. "So we really have an opportunity that a lot of shows don't have to reach some minds that may be closed at first and that might take a minute to even understand what the terminology is and what it all means."
Plus, Mosley added, the story line will unfold over a long period of time, and the characters on the show will gradually find out about Maya's past. "Everyone has a different reaction," she said. "So even if the audience can't necessarily be on board with Maya, or if they have [certain] feelings about Maya's experience now, hopefully they'll be able to see themselves in the reactions of the people around her and we can all sort of process it together."
Bradley Bell, executive producer and head writer of The Bold and the Beautiful, said in a statement, "The transgender story we are telling on The Bold and the Beautiful is important because it is about tolerance. It is about people respecting other people’s differences and their uniqueness. In the end, we all want to be loved and in order to love someone else you first have to love yourself. If you are transgender, gay, straight, it doesn’t matter. It’s about finding love in life. This is a love story."
The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays at 1:30 p.m. ET and 12:30 p.m. PT on CBS.