The series, titled “Transcendent” will provide an up close and personal look at the popular makeup artist and four other transgender women as it chronicles their personal, professional and romantic lives while working as performers at AsiaSF, a San Francisco-based restaurant-lounge-dance club .
For Bionka, “Transcendent” offers a realistic look inside the world of those in the transgender community while highlighting an eclectic cast of transgender women such as Nya and LA, who are of Asian descent and Bambiana and Xristina, who are Latin-American.
“I think when people look at ‘Transcendent,’ they are going to be able to notice right away the diversity in which we have on the show and definitely a camaraderie of sisterhood, a bond from all of the ladies we have on there. If anything, I think they’re going to notice the diversity that “Transcendent” brings,” Bionka, who is African American, told the Electronic Urban Report/EURweb about what viewers can expect from the new show.
While the diverse casting could come off as manufactured, Bionka countered the notion, as it could simply be a case of being at the right place at the right time.
“No I don’t think that diversity played a factor in creating the show,” said Bionka. ”At first, they asked everyone that worked at Asia SF if they wanted to be a part of the show and it just so happened that the girls who decided that they would want to be a part of it happened to be a diverse cast. Normally, when you hear the name Asia SF, you assume that it has something to do with anything that is Asian culture and I think over the years, AsiaSF has definitely catered to those types of cultures. But now AsiaSF is really diverse, especially in our cast.”
“I know it definitely helped me broaden my idea of thinking of my interaction with certain people and I guess people that are really, really close to me because I always feel as if I’m a human being and I know at the end of the day that I’m Bionka. So I shouldn’t have to tell or speak about certain things with people whom I hold close, even though it is a factor,” she said. “Even the fact that I’m a transgender individual. I think that that’s a secondary conversation that does not really need to happen at that time. I think that people can make their own speculations of who you are. And on the show, I definitely go through those trials and tribulations. So I think that definitely helped me open up a little bit more and definitely realized about myself there ‘s certain things that I should explore and have different conversations with, you know.”
Overall, Bionka is proud of what she and her castmates were able to do with “Transcendent,” saying that viewers will be naturally drawn into their struggles and triumphs with each episode. She credits the bond formed with her “girl friends” on the show as well as her co-workers and the ability to share those moments with viewers as the best thing about taking part on the show, not to mention it being able to “show and share my light, share my story in an educated and well manner” as a transgender woman.
“I believe we have what it takes. People on they outside, they don’t know about us. “They hear about us. I believe we were depicted in a proper way,” Bionka says about the show and the appeal of her and her transgender co-stars. “I think just our natural lives in general and us breaking it down in layman’s terms however we do, I think you’ll be able to see that and it translates well on the show that I think we’ll have a real captivated audience and they will definitely love every minute of it. From the cast to the things that happens to the way that its presented, I think it’s gonna be a class act. Just the people and the genuine people that are involved with the project itself. It’s really beautiful.”
The arrival of “Transcendent” comes amid a noticeable spotlight that has shined on the transgender community in recent months. Bionka credits the likes of Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Janet Moss and Carmen Carrera as being among those who have laid the bricks to build a strong foundation for mainstream acceptance of transgender people.
“It’s just continuing to shed light on the community and bringing people in to things that have already been happening that people don’t know about,” Bionka mentioned while noting Jenner’s impact in bringing the situation to the forefront. “Someone sitting in Iowa somewhere didn’t know that you could come to San Francisco and have a whole transgender activism community and that we’ve been doing it for years, you know.
The years-long fight to get “Transcendent” on the air was made easier with Jenner coming out and discussing her transition with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. And while “Transcendent” has found a home with Fuse, it almost didn’t end up that way, considering it came close to landing on E!, where Jenner has been a reality TV fixture with the Kardashian family.
“We had been fighting for years to try to get our show going. And actually, we were with E! before we were with Fuse,” Bionka confessed. “And we went all the way with E! and E! turned us down because they didn’t see where we would fit in their line-up.
“And then after all that happened, then Caitlyn comes along and says she’s ready to come out. And they’re like ‘Oh, we’re gonna start with you,” she continued. “We were shocked to hear, but at the same time, I was happy about it. But it just goes to show you that it wasn’t our time yet. And I believe that once people see ‘Transcendent’ that they’re gonna know why. And it’s gonna be nothing but good and positive things.”
“Transcendent” premieres tonight (09-30-15) at 11:30/10:30c on Fuse.