South African model Lauren Foster’s career becomes more fashionable.
by David Goldberg
Among the high-heeled drama-mamas of The Real Housewives of Miami, there’s been one standout: Lauren Foster, the South African model with the most fabulous one-liners. Foster spoke with OutSmart about her potential to be the first transgender housewife, her relationship to the media, and her career plans.
David Goldberg: Can you give an update on your role in the GLAAD leadership council?
Lauren Foster: My very good friend Herndon Graddick, who was the president of GLAAD, is very pro-trans and thinks of trans rights as the rights of the future. He asked me to head up GLAAD’s Miami Leadership Council with one of my costars from Real Housewives of Miami, Marysol Patton, my girlfriends Sarah Arison and Zurami Pascual, along with Charlie Lapson and Omar Sharif Jr. We hosted a cocktail party at Soho Beach House two weeks ago to launch the Leadership Council and announce our plans for a gala in February.
What do you think needs to be improved for the Miami trans community?
The profile needs to be raised and the community educated.
Have you gotten a good response since being on The Real Housewives of Miami?
I’m very fortunate and have experienced a very positive response from being on the show. Fans have petitioned for me to be a permanent cast member and housewife. The producers and the cast really kicked it out of the park this season.
How would you say the community and your fans have changed since the ’80s?
When my six-page editorial came out in Vogue [Mexico, 1980], there was no social media. Over the last couple of years, that has all changed. We are in America’s living rooms now. We are relevant.
Would you say that there’s more of a trans voice out there?
Absolutely. This is the time for trans rights. There are a few of us raising this profile, making it easier for the public to understand. My pal Ines Rau just did a shoot with Tyson Beckford. It was everything. Our profile is more positive—especially with this generation. I am always being hit on by young men in their 20s. My relationship with [younger men] is completely different than it would be with a man in his 40s or 50s. They are just more comfortable with their sexuality and not hung up on labels.
What advice would you give to a young trans person trying to break in to modeling or acting?
The same advice I’d give to anybody—if you think this is something you should be doing and you’ve been scouted by an agency, then go out, work hard, and give it your best. I don’t see that much difference now between being trans and a biological woman. I’m not the kind of person that thinks it’s strange to be trans, obviously. I’m just another girl. I believe that so strongly that it will be the title of my book. I think we put so much emphasis on being trans that it almost makes it difficult for someone to live their life. My real-estate agent is gay. People don’t say: “Oh, there’s Peter, the gay real-estate agent.” I’m trying to put that in perspective and have people see it as just about being normal. Do people think of you as “David, the gay writer,” or just as a writer?
Actually, when I researched you for the first time, your trans status wasn’t the first thing that came up. The same goes for Laverne Cox when I first saw her on Orange Is the New Black. That has to be a sign of progress—it’s not your defining label. But obviously that’s on your part.
I killed an interview a couple of months ago because all they wanted to talk about was my sexuality. And I thought, there’s so much more to me, and my life, and my career—if you want a sensational story, I’m not the person. When we go to Soho House on the weekend or lay on the beach, paparazzi take photos of me. My relationship with younger men has created a lot of buzz, so now they want to shoot pics of me with younger men and label me a cougar. It’s ridiculous. I don’t enjoy it.
In the reality-TV scene, there are so many “masculine” shows such as Duck Dynasty and Deadliest Catch. Then there’s Housewives, which is totally feminine. Do you think there’s gender performance on Housewives?
It’s crazy. There’s a huge gender performance on Housewives. The women are larger than life. I don’t wear much makeup, and next to those girls, I felt almost naked. We were at a daytime party, and they were done up for a red carpet. I just had on a little lip gloss and some blush. I learned my lesson very fast, hiring a makeup artist and stylist very quickly after that. The show is estrogen squared!
Could you describe some of your fans? Who is a Housewives fan?
I have amazing fans on social media that are sweet people and who only want the best for me. It’s very moving to see how people relate to me on Housewives. They think I’m stylish and funny. It’s not about me being trans. Yes, I’m a little controversial, but that’s why the producers have me on the show. I’m entertaining, and the audience responds positively to me.
I’ve met all kinds of gay guys who watch the show. Why do you think there’s such a huge gay following?
Because it’s stylish, and fabulous, and fun. It’s just like Melrose Place was in the ’90s.
What’s your following like in South Africa?
I have a big following there. Most of them are proud that I have done well. And then the press is, of course, only interested in sensation. They want to expose all my stuff. I have no place in my life for negativity or controversy. I’m happy to share my life experiences, but I don’t want to share my personal life.
What’s next for you?
I leave for New York on Friday [December 13] to shoot a new movie with Joe Lally for SHOWstudios. Nick Knight and Daphne Guinness are the owners, so the film will be filled with fashion and high emotions. This will be my third film with Joe Lally. He is my Visconti. His vision is extraordinary. Then I leave for a fab two-week vacation in Berlin and will start working on my autobiography, Just Another Girl, in the new year.
David Goldberg also writes about Laverne Cox in this issue of OutSmart.