WTTW's newest documentary in our Out & Proud in Chicago series is SCHOOLBOY TO SHOWGIRL: THE ALEXANDRA BILLINGS STORY. It's a 30-minute program about the extraordinary life and career of an unforgettable transgender actress and singer, Alexandra Billings.
Through rare footage and candid interviews, the film traces her harrowing journey through many transitions - from fear to fearlessness, from sickness to health, from loneliness to love, and her most remarkable transition of all - from male to female.
With her trademark humor, courage and honesty, Billings discusses her childhood struggles as a boy growing up in suburban Chicago and how she wrestled with her gender identity during her drag club days at Club Victoria, La Cage, Club 219, and The Baton Show Lounge. She recounts how she transitioned from the female impersonation clubs to mainstream Chicago theater, to being cast in Hollywood in hit shows like ER, Grey's Anatomy, Eli Stone and Karen Sisko. She's survived a suicide attempt and conquered AIDS, cocaine and heroin addiction, and ignorance. The documentary also touches on the history of the drag movement and the reality of transitioning today
The film is narrated by poet and performer Cin Salach who has a unique personal connection to Alexandra Billings. It features original music by esteemed Chicago band leader and songwriter Nicholas Tremulis. And it is produced and written by Alexandra Silets, who co-produced last year's award-winning Out & Proud in Chicago documentary, now airing on PBS stations nationwide.