A chance meeting meant that Suzy Wrong finally landed the role she dreamed of: a trans woman at peace with – and loved by – the world.
In the SBS drama series Hungry Ghosts Suzy plays the transgender character Roxy Ling who chases demons while pursuing her passion for clairvoyance. It is not until halfway through the show that Roxy mentions she was assigned male at birth.
Being chosen to bring this queer character to life was a dream for Suzy who, with the rest of the crew, worked hard to not let this be yet another sob story about the trans experience.
It was a dream that at one point she did not think would come true.
“I had been an actor in the 90s, so a long time ago, before I moved here to Australia,” Suzy said.
“After I moved here in 1996 and I finished my degree in about 2000, I found that there were no opportunities that were compelling enough for me as an Asian, as a trans woman to go after.
“So, I guess I decided to give up on that and do other things until this opportunity came up for Hungry Ghosts in 2019.”
“When she met me, she felt that I was going to be perfect for it,” Suzy explained.
“She didn’t tell me this. She went back and told the producers who went through the right channels; they went to the casting agent, and I was called in for a meeting with the director.
“I did an impromptu reading of the script and voila the rest is herstory.”
Aside from the excitement and the thrill of going back to acting, Suzy felt a sense of vindication.
“I felt that it was a great role, and I felt that – without being cocky – I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role,” she said.
“Roxy is a trans, Asian-Australian woman, and I am thinking ‘if not me, then who?’”
Suzy was determined to make sure Roxy would be portrayed as a self-possessed, fulfilled and confident.
“I was very conscious in performing the role for a trans and queer audience but also an Asian-Australian audience, Suzy said.
“When I had the audience in mind, it affected the way that I performed that role.
“I recognised that even though she is the clairvoyant, she is the only one of the main characters who does not actually see the ghosts which I found quite funny. I identified that she was able to bring comic relief in between the scary scenes, so I invested a lot in bringing a sense of quirky, lightheartedness every time she appears.”
She said while the role of Roxy is a triumph, there is still a long way to go but Suzy encouraged her community to not give up.
“I remember seeing Laverne Cox in Orange Is the New Black and thinking ‘I could play that role’ and it sort of gave me a glimmer of hope,” Wrong said. “Several years on, and we have got other beacons of hope.”
Suzy had one piece of advice for aspiring trans actors – be like Roxy.
“Run with your passion. Run with your enthusiasm and your self-belief,” she said.
“The funny thing about Roxy is that even though she loves the supernatural world, she is not naturally talented which is part of the humour of it but she makes up for it by being completely dedicated with a huge amount of self-belief.
“I think we could all learn from that.”
Hungry Ghosts is available to stream on SBS On Demand.