Candis Cayne is inarguably a trailblazing actress.
The blonde bombshell first made her TV debut in 1995 but it wasn't until her 2007 turn on CSI: NY where Cayne got her "first big role," as she explains in an exclusive sneak peek of E!'s True Hollywood Story: Transgender Hollywood, airing tonight (June 7).
"It was originally for a drag performer to do a Britney Spears-esque style performance on stage and then she gets killed in the men's bathroom at the stall," Cayne says of portraying a CSI murder victim.
Yet the premise didn't sit right with Cayne, who wanted to accurately represent the trans community onscreen. "I went up to the director and I said to her, 'Listen, I'm trans and no trans woman would go into the men's bathroom,'" Cayne remembers. "And so I said, 'I can't do something that a trans person wouldn't do on camera.'"
Thanks to Cayne's statement, the scene was re-written to instead feature her character being drowned in the ladies' room toilet.
Following her CSI: NY episode, Cayne was invited to audition for a pilot that included a love triangle between a married man and trans woman. "In the past, all the trans roles would go to cis woman and so I thought since this is a primetime network that they probably won't go for the trans actor," Cayne explains. "But then I got a call back and they said, 'You got it.'"
Cayne made history as the first trans woman in TV history to play a recurring character on a primetime network series. The show Dirty Sexy Money featured Cayne as Carmelita, the other woman to Billy Baldwin's Patrick Darling character. Donald Sutherland, Peter Krause and Jill Clayburgh also co-starred.
As actress and transgender rights advocate Angelica Ross comments in the clip, Cayne was "our celebrity before we were allowed to have trans celebrities in the mainstream."
Watch Cayne's empowering interview in the clip above, and tune in tonight at 10 p.m. see more of the THS: Transgender Hollywood special just in time for Pride Month 2021.