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'Anything's Possible' is a Gen Z rom-com — with a Black trans girl at the center

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The teenage boy addresses the ladies and gentlemen of Reddit. He writes that he's 17, male and has a massive crush on a girl in his art class who is absolutely and painfully beautiful, apparently an incredible artist and also...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE")

ABUBAKR ALI: (As Khal) Problem is she's trans. And not that that's a problem for me. I'm just afraid of the drama I could cause if I ask her out. I'll probably lose a friend, and I doubt my parents will understand. So what do I do?

SUMMERS: Now, we don't know exactly what happened to the smitten young Reddit user, but there's a new movie out on Prime Video based on that viral post where, well, the boy just goes for it. "Anything's Possible" is a Gen Z romantic comedy full of the joys and misadventures of first love.

EVA REIGN: Khal looks at Kelsa and is like, OK, here's this beautiful girl. I think she's really smart. I think she's really funny, and I think she's really beautiful. Let me, you know, ask her out. And it really is just that simple.

SUMMERS: That's Eva Reign. She plays Kelsa. Kelsa reciprocates that crush on her classmate Khal, played by Abubakr Ali. "Anything's Possible" is the first movie directed by the Emmy-, Grammy- and Tony Award-winning actor Billy Porter. And Eva Reign told me that Billy Porter trusted her to tell the story, even down to her makeup and intricate, colorful nails.

REIGN: I actually had those nails taken off because I thought, OK, well, Kelsa's kind of young. I don't know if she would have nails like this. Billy saw me the next day and was like, Miss Thing, what happened to my nails? And I was like, uh, I thought you didn't want them. And he - you know, he just said, do you see me? Do you think I don't want you to have nails? Girl, you better go get those claws back.

SUMMERS: What was he like as a director?

REIGN: Billy is so intuitive. You know, he really looks at every piece of the pie, and he tries to make everyone feel seen and heard throughout the whole process. I felt super-safe on set every day. I felt very confident by everything that he would say to me during takes. He always said, Eva, you know how to act and you also know who you are. He said, we're all looking to you to tell this story in the most accurate way possible, you know, because Kelsa and I have very, very similar lives. And to show this young Black trans girl with a mother who loves her fully, it's something I haven't seen before. And it's something I think a lot of people think doesn't exist, but it does, you know? Kelsa is the proof. I am the proof of that.

SUMMERS: I want to play a part of one of the videos from the film where she talks about some of the complexities that she's experiencing.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE")

REIGN: (As Kelsa) There's something I realized recently that's literally so obvious. Not everything is about gender. Cis people don't talk about gender all the time. They literally just take for granted that they are who they are. So why should I? Why do I have to talk about gender all the time? Like, literally, let's talk about dating. Sure, there's some gender involved, but it's really just two people. Like, I was so worried about someone not wanting to be with me because I'm trans or only wanting to be with me because I'm trans.

SUMMERS: Is there any part of that that you find relatable?

REIGN: All of it. You know, I'm from Missouri. And when you're not in, like, a major, major city like New York or, like, LA, when people learn of you and they learn that you're trans, they constantly want to ask you all of these super, super-invasive questions. They're like, oh, my God, so, you know, do your parents still love you? What does, like, dating look like? Do you have lots of trans friends? Exactly when was it that you knew that you were trans? And I think a lot of people might think that these are totally reasonable things to ask someone, but it can be a difficult thing, especially when you're going on a first date and someone wants to only ask you questions about being trans. It's like, OK, but that's not really me, you know? Like, you didn't ask me when my birthday is or, like, what, like, my zodiac sign is or, you know, what's my favorite song by Beyonce, you know, like things that I think are a little bit more - a little bit more vital when it comes to learning about someone's actual interests, right?

And during this film, Kelsa starts to realize that love is possible without someone wanting to know all of these super-invasive things. And I think that's what every trans person wants. And this, like, film is just your typical, like, boy meets girl, and the girl happens to be trans.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE")

REIGN: (As Kelsa) Khal, Em likes you.

ALI: (As Khal) Yeah, well, I, like, like you.

REIGN: (As Kelsa) She was right there.

ALI: (As Khal) Well, then I - all right, if you don't like me, just tell me. I still want to be your friend. If you don't want to be friends, we can, you know...

REIGN: (As Kelsa) I didn't say that.

And I think a lot of people, when they search for trans narratives, they're wanting to see the trauma. They're wanting to see the sadness, the sorrow. And, you know, those things exist, but also just showing two people happy, I think that's something we need to see more of.

SUMMERS: You mentioned that you're from Missouri, which is also where I grew up. It is a state, as I don't have to tell you, where there's been this long history of anti-trans legislation that has been passed over the last couple years. And I have to imagine for some young folks in this country who are going to see this film, it's going to be a beacon of light for them in some way. What is your message to young people out there who are watching this who are maybe discouraged or having a hard time?

REIGN: What I have to say to any young person who is going through a difficult time right now - you know who you are. Other people might be trying to debate that. Other people might be trying to force you in a state where you don't feel safe. But you hold all of the power. People like us have always, always existed beyond the laws, right? But, you know, you don't need a law to make you legit. You just need yourself. You just need good people around you. You need strong friends. You need strong family. And I would just say, try to keep yourself grounded in any possible way. I don't care if that means you listen to the same song every day for, like, five hours each.

I've definitely gone through some tough times. I was living in the middle of Missouri at a point in life, and I didn't feel safe. But, you know, I got past that. Just try to find people who are going to love you and who are going to keep you safe because, you know, you got this. And there are a lot of people out there who are so, so excited to meet you, to love you, to, like, be your best friend. So, you know, just try to hold on as much as you possibly can.

SUMMERS: Eva Reign, thank you so much for talking with us today.

REIGN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT'S HOW GOD MADE ME")

JOY OLADOKUN: (Singing) Came a hell of a way, did a whole lot of sinning, took a whole lot of faith, and I ended up winning, yeah. That's how God made me.

SUMMERS: The movie "Anything's Possible" is out now on Prime Video.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT'S HOW GOD MADE ME")

OLADOKUN: (Singing) That's how God made me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.