Alexandra Billings — Pet Patrol
Deborah Moncrief Bell speaks with Alexandra Billings is a transgender TV actor who rose to prominence in 2014 as one of the supporting stars of the Golden Globe-winning comedy "Transparent" (Amazon 2014- ). A native of Southern California, Billings was surrounded by stage and screen performers throughout childhood. Her father was the musical director at a famed opera house in Los Angeles, and as a child Billings would follow her dad to work and help out backstage. It was while working at the opera house that she was first exposed to such high-profile stars as Yul Brynner and Carol Burnett, which only heightened her growing interest in the theater. By the early 1980s, Billings relocated to Chicago and started appearing in beauty pageants. She quickly found that she had a knack for performing in front of a live audience, and started winning beauty contests throughout the Midwest and Florida. Also around this time, Billings began appearing in plays in various theaters throughout Chicago, in addition to performing her autobiographical show to sold out audiences throughout the country. By the early 2000s Billings' stage career was thriving, and it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling. After a couple supporting roles on TV series, Billings made history by becoming the first transgender woman to play a transgender character on TV. That role came on the 1995 made-for-TV movie, "Romy and Michelle: In the Beginning." From there, Billings landed numerous guest spots on TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) and the short-lived "Eli Stone" (ABC, 2008-09), before landing the part of the trans woman Davina on the first season of Amazon's "Transparent." The show was an immediate success, and won the Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy. Amazon renewed "Transparent" for a second season in late 2014, with Billings already slated to reprise her role as Davina.
Guest: Alexandra Billings
Then, we speak with folks from Pet Patrol.
The nation's first Pet Patrol for PWAs was launched in Houston in August 1987. Founder Tori Williams realized that pets are important to improving the lifestyle of PWAs, helping them avoid depression. And it is important to take away the concern that their pets will be cared for if the person has to go into the hospital, or cannot afford food and vet expenses. That this organization has surrived all these years, even after the AIDS crisis years, is a testament to the idea and its execution by a team of volunteers. The organization received its 501c3 incorporation in August 1989.
Guest: Nicki Thorne-Thomsen