Jonas Ben Ahmed, present in Toulouse this Thursday: “Transidentity does not prevent you from achieving your dreams! “
Jonas Ben Ahmed, a young 30-year-old trans actor, plays a role in “A good man”. The film will be screened in preview at the ABC, in Toulouse, this Thursday evening, in the presence of Jonas and the director.
Can you tell us about your role and the movie “A good man”?
I play the character of Niel, an inhabitant of the island of Groix, in Brittany, recently arrived. He does odd jobs; is a cashier during the day and a bartender at night to be able to settle down with his company. He is friends with Benjamin (a trans and pregnant man). A trans character as the main character is the first time in France, and the fact that he is carrying a child is a great first for a mainstream film coming to the cinema.
The main character is played by Noémie Merlant, she is not transgender which has some criticism, do you understand them?
Every point of view is justified, but being trans is not a job. After my role in “Plus belle la vie”, I was only offered this kind of role or Arab characters who sell cannabis resin at the bottom of the towers of Marseille. I am referred to my transidentity or my cultural identity, while the interest of being an actor is to be able to play all trades. I refused these roles until the day I met the filmmaker Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar.
Was being an actor a vocation?
I have wanted to be an actor since I was little. I had decided to let go of my dreams after coming out at 18; I was convinced that no one would have wanted an actor concerned with transidentity, and finally eight years later, my dream caught up with me. “Plus Belle la vie” introduced me to a trans character, it was a double-edged sword: the role propelled me but afterwards, I was only offered this kind of role or roles in the northern districts. from Marseille, I took the bread out of my mouth by refusing them, but as Robert de Niro said, an actor is judged by the choices he makes.
What advice would you give to trans people who wanted to make movies?
An 11-year-old trans girl wrote to me one day asking if he could be a lawyer. Like him at his age, I thought that my transidentity would prevent me from achieving my dreams, in the end, I was able to make them come true. Transidentity does not prevent anything! In Cannes this year I said to myself: nine years ago you slept on a bench, and there, you are on the steps of Cannes as an actor. I went through difficult times, it never told me to believe. I am living the life that I always dreamed of having. Hope kept me and those around me holding on. Very good friends took me off the streets. Without them, I wouldn’t be so serene and comfortable in my sneakers.
Do you find that the cinema now gives a great place to LGBT + people?
More and more. Thanks to streaming platforms that take the risk of making stories with LGBT + and racialized people. It reassured the producers. Five years ago, there was no trans character on TV. Even in everyday life, that has changed. Before, when I called an administration, I had to explain to them who I was. Today when I say that I am a trans man, I am told: ok, there is no problem. I am convinced that it is because we are talking about it more. It helps to demystify. I am a boy like the others, but I had to fight harder to be admitted as much as the others.