Who Is Shakina Nayfack from ‘Transparent Musicale Finale’?

Transparent introduces one more trans actor before it wraps up the series. Shakina Nayfack joins Transparent Musicale Finale as marijuana dealer Ava. Nayfack is a singer from New York who founded the Musical Theater Factory. If Transparent Musicale Finale was the first time you saw Shakina Nayfack, here are some more places to see her work.

Shakina Nayfack
Shakina Nayfack | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Tribeca TV Festival

Shakina Nayfack was on a Television Critics Association panel for Transparent Musicale Finale in July. She shared her background and previous experience leading to her involvement with Transparent. Transparent Musicale Finale is now available on Amazon Prime.

Shakina Nayfack credits ‘Transparent’ with giving her other roles

Transparent opened many doors for trans actors. Shakina Nayfack feels she benefited from the world Transparent opened up.

Shakina Nayfack
Shakina Nayfack | Paul Archuleta/WireImage

“I started Musical Theater Factory around the same time that Transparent began,” Nayfack said. “At that time I sort of felt like there was no room in the world for me as an actress, so I should just focus on directing and producing, which I also love doing, and writing. This show and these creators cracked that open making room for me to imagine myself as an actress.”

Shakina Nayfack starred on Hulu’s ‘Difficult People’

Shakina Nayfack found work on another streaming service, Hulu’s comedy Difficult People.

Shakina Nayfack
Shakina Nayfack Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“I was on this show Difficult People on Hulu for a couple of years, but running this music theater company in New York at the same time,” Nayfack said. 

Shakina Nayfack connected with Faith Soloway before ‘Transparent’

Jill Soloway created Transparent. Their sibling Faith Soloway wrote the songs for Musicale Finale. Nayfack and Faith Soloway knew each other.

“I originally connected with Faith because I was singing at a benefit for the Gender Family Project, which is an organization that does service work for families with gender non-conforming and trans kids,” Nayfack said. “They were honoring the Soloways.”

Nayfack heard about early plans for Transparent Musicale Finale.

Shakina Nayfack
Shakina Nayfack | David Livingston/Getty Images

“We met and [Faith was] like, ‘I’m thinking of making Transparent a musical,’” Nayfack said. “I was like I’ve heard before, because everyone in New York is thinking about making something a musical. But then a year later, [Faith] reached out to me and were like, ‘Oh, I think we’re going to do some of the songs at Joe’s Pub. Do you want to come?’”

Performing songs at Joe’s Pub led to workshopping the music at Musical Theater Factory. 

“The decision to do that weeklong workshop at Musical Theater Factory was really a game changer, I think, for figuring out how this story and this family could coalesce around the death of one of their matriarchs, and how we could chart a healing journey for all of these characters that, really, the world has fallen in love with over the past few years. We had some very sacred time there. I mean, the improvisation, the community of it was definitely part of the engine of the creation, but also it was the first time that the cast had been together since the great rupture of 2017.”

Shakina Nayfack, Television Critics Association panel 7/28/19

Shakina Nayfack fit in perfectly with ‘Transparent’

Shakina Nayfack was new to the Transparent family but she fit in like a long lost sister.

“I’m new to the family and was welcoming everyone into my home while they were welcoming me into their family,” Nayfack said. “As the outsider coming into this family that had experienced this, that the grief even before we decided that Maura was going to die in the first minutes of the film, the grief in the ensemble of the community was palpable, but so was the decision to move toward joy.”

Shakina Nayfack
Shakina Nayfack | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Tribeca TV Festival

With Jeffrey Tambor off the show, the central trans character of Transparent was gone. Nayfack got to be involved with ending Transparent Musicale Finale on a high note.

“Every position on the project had an agreement that we spoke aloud, often, frequently before every day of shooting that this show has literally saved lives,” Nayfack said. “Changed and saved lives. There’s so much magic and opportunity that’s been created by this show the last couple years that if we were to let it go down because of an unfortunate event, we’d be taking that away from everybody. Especially the trans folk who need this representation, who need these jobs. So the commitment to keep going and push through the fire and create something truly celebratory, was shared and was there from the beginning.”