Laith Ashley, the trans model, says it was a dream come true being cast alongside the music legend Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift released one of the most awaited videos for the opening track of her tenth studio album, “Midnights.” The video, which accurately embodies the spirit of the song “Lavender Haze” was full of surprises for her fans across the world. It's the third video to be released from the album joining “Anti-Hero” and “Bejeweled," both of which were great hits.
While several people debated the meaning behind “easter eggs” in the video that Swift usually leaves behind, there was one more thing that everyone noticed - trans model Laith Ashley. People around the world praised Swift for highlighting LGBTQIAP+ representation in the video. While mainstream films and music are yet to accept this level of normalization, the “Lavender Haze” video opened up several channels for more trans representation in the music industry, as per The Pink News.
Ashley stars as the love interest in the video, which celebrates Swift’s passion for love instead of getting affected by the views of the world. In the video, Ashley sleeps next to Swift as she traces galaxy patterns on his back. Ashley shares some cozy and intimate moments with the 11-time Grammy winner and even dances with her in the Lavender fog enveloping them. The video was directed by Swift and has already gathered 10 million views in just 3 days. The presence of a trans person in love in the music video, according to Ashley, is a significant step forward for representation. Moreover, he said that he is extremely excited as the notifications haven’t stopped coming since the video was dropped on 26th January at midnight. He told BuzzFeed News, “Having a trans person just being in love on screen, it’s humanizing trans people. We deserve to exist. We deserve to take up space in society. We will always exist regardless of anti-trans propaganda.”
Ashley noted that playing Taylor Swift's love interest was a dream job for him. He said, “If you notice in some parts of the video, I couldn’t stop smiling. I smiled to hide the fact that I was so nervous.” In an interview with Elle, Ashley stated that the music video was "so important" in terms of trans visibility, especially given Swift's global fan base. He said, “Even on Instagram, I’ve gotten thousands of messages from young trans people and trans people of all ages saying how important and how huge it is that someone with the platform that Taylor Swift has, especially in the times that we’re in now, used a trans man as her love interest.”
He added, “And she had multiple trans people in the party scene. There were people of all different backgrounds, sexualities, and identities.” Ashley described the "Lavender Haze" music video as a "celebration of diversity, acceptance, liberty, and freedom." A profound message to him as a child. He said, "Growing up, there weren’t any images of trans people on television or in media, really. If there were, they were often being mocked or humiliated or made fun of or being cast aside, which would make one feel like, oh, you’re not supposed to be this, this is wrong, I need to hide."
In a lovely Instagram post about "Lavender Haze," Taylor Swift praised Ashley for being an "amazing" co-star. She wrote, "The Lavender Haze video is out now. There is lots of lavender. There is lots of haze. There is my incredible costar @laith_ashley who I absolutely adored working with. This was the first video I wrote out of the 3 that have been released and this one really helped me conceptualize the world and mood of Midnights, like a sultry sleepless 70’s fever dream. Hope you like it."