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Rebecca Romijn on her transgender ‘Ugly Betty’ character: ‘I really wanted to do that character justice’

The model-turned-actor played Alexis Meade on the dramedy for two seasons before she was demoted to a recurring character and eventually written off.
/ Source: TODAY

Rebecca Romijn is reflecting on playing a transgender woman on the Emmy-winning dramedy “Ugly Betty.” 

In 2007, the beloved series premiered on ABC and quickly gained a strong following as viewers watched America Ferrera transform into Betty Suarez, a quirky college grad who struggled to fit in at an esteemed fashion magazine. While Betty’s story was at the center of the show, “Ugly Betty” also introduced another character who was learning to embrace their identity: Romijn’s Alexis Meade. 

The model-turned-actor joined the show halfway through Season One as the transgender sister of Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius). Alexis had faked her death before resurfacing and announcing to the world she underwent gender confirmation surgery. 

America Ferrera as Betty, Eric Mabius as Daniel, Judith Light
Claire, and Rebecca Romijn as Alexis in "Ugly Better."
America Ferrera as Betty, Eric Mabius as Daniel, Judith Light as Claire and Rebecca Romijn as Alexis in "Ugly Betty."Vivian Zink / Getty Images

Romijn, 50, revealed how she landed the role in an interview with The Independent published on July 5. 

“The executives at the time didn’t love the idea of the character,” she recalled. “There was a real boys’ club running the show behind the scenes at that point. So to try and make it palatable to the boys’ club... they pitched me.”

She added, “And I jumped at the chance.” 

At the time, the supermodel had a somewhat budding acting career and was mostly known for portraying Mystique in the early 2000s “X-Men” films. 

But that was not the only reason Romijn was interested in tackling the part. 

“I really wanted to do that character justice — and make her as hot as possible,” Romijn shared. 

Although she pointed out that it isn’t likely a cisgender woman would be asked to play a transgender woman in 2023, she said having the representation was significant. 

Romijn explained, “I never would be cast in that role today, but I do feel like it helped open doors for the trans community. I’d like to think that, anyway. I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much.”

With plenty of shows from that period like “Will & Grace,” “Charmed,” and “Arrested Development,” being rebooted and revived, could “Ugly Betty” join the list?

If it does, Romijn is unsure how she would be involved. “I do think Alexis should be cast with a trans actress,” she told the British publication when speaking about a possible reboot or revival. “That would be the correct thing to do.”

Romijn, who currently stars on Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” was a main cast member on “Ugly Betty” for two seasons before she was demoted to a recurring character and eventually written off in Season Three. 

Before TV Guide officially confirmed the news that Alexis would not be featured as much in the third season, Romijn alluded to issues behind the scenes with the show’s creative team about her character’s storyline. 

“They made a tremendous amount of changes, especially with the writing staff,” she told the New York Post in 2008. “And while I know I’ll be coming back next season, with all the changes, I’m not sure they can take care of my character the way they have been.” 

She continued, “So I’ll be leaving, back in a recurring capacity, but time for me to leave and find something else.”