When one of the teenage witches in “The Craft: Legacy” says that the ability to give birth shows that all women have some magic in them, trans actress Zoey Luna casually corrects her and says not all women have that power.
“Trans girls have their own magic too,” Luna’s character Lourdes says in passing. It’s a simple line and doesn’t directly fuel the narrative, but it clearly identifies Lourdes as trans and gives her a strong sense of agency, a rare example of positive trans representation in a studio film.
But “The Craft: Legacy” did more for Luna and the trans community than just show representation. Director and writer Zoe Lister-Jones, a cisgender woman, worked directly with GLAAD and an independent “trans consultant” named Scott Turner Schofield in making sure that the film’s dialogue, tropes and its on-set environment were all as inclusive as it could be, something Luna found equally magical.
“All of the women that were so aware and educated before even meeting me is what made the set feel so safe, getting to work with these women that are just very intelligent and aware of their own feelings, helped them be aware of my feelings and my boundaries,” Luna told TheWrap. “I finally had the family sense on a set for the first time. I’m just so grateful for everyone that was so great to work with.”
“The Craft: Legacy” is Columbia Pictures’ and Blumhouse’s follow-up to the 1996 teen cult film “The Craft,” which is the story about a group of four teenage girls who form a coven of witches, only for their powers to cause some unexpected problems and drama.
Lister-Jones specifically wrote the character of Lourdes, one of the four girls in the coven, as trans, and early on in development, she partnered with GLAAD and with Schofield in making minor tweaks to the script, shifting language ever so slightly in ways that ultimately helped the dialogue avoid microaggressions or loaded language that might be inadvertently offensive.
“In any discussion of young women, trans women’s voices need to be included. And anything that is looking at feminism or is telling stories through a feminist lens, it’s essential that trans women are a part of that narrative,” Lister-Jones said. “They were seemingly small shifts in language which I think is such an important lesson, because it’s something that those of us outside the trans community might not see as sensitive.”
Lister-Jones says she then worked with GLAAD on an open casting call for Lourdes, and over 300 trans women applied before Luna landed the part. In fact, GLAAD recently conducted a survey that showed trans characters have largely been invisible in studio films, and the organization in a statement celebrated Luna’s casting.
“Since GLAAD began the Studio Responsibility Index in 2013, major studio films have either left out transgender characters entirely or included minor characters that were deeply offensive. By writing one of the four lead witches as trans teenage girl Lourdes and casting Zoey Luna, a talented trans Latina actress, to play her, ‘The Craft: Legacy’ from Sony is charting a new course for inclusion in a major studio release,” Alex Schmider, GLAAD’s associate director of transgender representation, told TheWrap. “GLAAD was proud to help writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones and Blumhouse with this casting, and are so excited for audiences around the world to see Lourdes onscreen, a powerful trans girl on her own and in her witch coven, played by star in the making Zoey Luna.”
In the end, the Lourdes character isn’t defined by being trans, and Luna identified more closely with her character because she too is a practicing witch and astrologist. While Lourdes is much quieter than Luna, her character embodies her personality and her own personal tragedies and experience in ways we don’t necessarily see on screen.
“I have boundaries and I fight hard for my boundaries, and I think that’s one thing I really like from Lourdes is learning how to own my boundaries and picture myself in a way that wasn’t setting off the rest of the world,” Luna said. “I don’t know how Zoe knew so much about the trans identity and about every other intersectional identity that was in the film, but I assume part of it was asking questions to people who were willing to be her teacher and also research. Something I want viewers to take away is that they can be just as self-aware and aware of others without necessarily having to be a d-bag about it, a little nod to the movie.”
Not only did Schofield help suggest Luna’s line about trans women’s power, he also was available on set and conducted a trans inclusivity seminar for “The Craft: Legacy” crew, something Lister-Jones says should be mandatory for any film set. He was similarly available to both Lister-Jones and to Luna through text message to just make her and the rest of the crew feel comfortable and able to do their best work.
“I knew this was going to be a really positive set for her and a really positive experience because of Zoe Lister-Jones being so passionate and so gung ho about making sure my presence was known and that my message was clear to the entire crew,” Schofield said. “She was foregrounding positivity around trans issues in a way that I knew was going to make a great set for Zoey.”
Of course, Lourdes is just one character in a larger film and franchise that has inspired girls and women to lean on their own friends, bonds and communities, and Lister-Jones says that everyone should be included in that conversation.
“What I wanted to really showcase was the power of women in communities and that each woman’s power comes from her singularity, comes from her stepping into her identity and finding her power in that and how great the collective power is when all of those singular identities unite,” Lister-Jones said. “And I think now more than ever, the world really needs to be living in intersectional communities where we can uphold and uplift each other to subvert the really oppressive power structures that are at play.”
“The Craft: Legacy” will be available for digital premium video on-demand rental and purchase on October 28.