Meet Ian Alexander, The Asian American Trans Teen Actor On Netflix’s ‘The OA’

Tae Hong
Dec 19,2016
Ian Alexander as Buck Vu on Netflix's "The OA" (Netflix)Ian Alexander as Buck Vu on Netflix's "The OA" (Netflix)

If you binge-watched “The OA” on Netflix like the rest of us this weekend, it was hard to miss Buck, the transgender teenager played by Asian American actor Ian Alexander.

Alexander, whose social media response (“Shut the f—k up”) to an anti-transgender tweet from a group of UCLA students holding signs that read, “There are only two genders!” went viral and which landed him on Buzzfeed earlier this year, struck a chord with viewers through the character Buck Vu, who took to social media to praise his positive depiction of the trans teen on the show.

Buck becomes a part of the ragtag team that helps Prairie, the titular character of “The OA,” in the show. Buck’s a quiet 15-year-old kid coming to terms with his own sexuality. We see glimpses of his life, from his disapproving Vietnamese American family to a passing mention of his testosterone use.

In an interview with Affinity Mag, Alexander said the role helped him tell his own story as a young transgender man. Alexander, who is Vietnamese on his mother’s side, comes from a biracial Mormon family, and told Affinity that he used to sneak YouTube videos when he got his first iPod Touch at age 12: “I remember particularly being obsessed with [female to male] videos — I didn’t connect with it personally yet, but I still remember tucking my long hair into a hat and taking a few ‘boy’ pictures on that iTouch.”

 

One Twitter user asked Alexander whether he was invited to give input into Buck’s character building.

“I absolutely was!” Alexander replied. “They were always listening to my input & really wanted me to make the character my own. They wanted him to be realistic.”

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