Alexandra Scott Billings (born March 28, 1962, Inglewood, California) is an American actor, teacher, singer, and the first openly trans woman to have played a transgender character on television, which she did in the 2005 made-for-TV movie Romy and Michele: In The Beginning.
Billings' father, Robert Billings, was a music teacher at Los Angeles Harbor College and the musical director for the L. A. Civic Light Opera House, which influenced his interest in theater. He assisted, working backstage in the shadow of such stars as Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress), and Yul Brynner (The King and I). He also appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar and The Roar of the Greasepaint--the Smell of the Crowd.
In the early 1980s, Billings worked under the stage name Shante at the famed Baton Show Lounge in Chicago, Illinois. Winning a series of beauty contests, she was named Miss Wisconsin, Miss New York, Miss Chicago, Miss Illinois, and Miss Florida. She also served as a judge of the Miss Continental pageant in 2000, and 2001.
Most of Billings' professional work has been in Chicago theaters, most notably The Bailiwick Theater, Light Opera Works, Court Theatre, and the Tony Award winning Steppenwolf Theatre. She has collaborated on plays with such notable authors as Larry Kramer, Tina Landau, and Jamie Pachino. She has received one Joseph Jefferson Award, and 5 After Dark Awards for her work in Chicago Theater. Her one woman autobiographical show has toured to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and off Broadway.
She has taught Viewpoints at the Steppenwolf Summer School since 2002, as well as Louis University, The University of Chicago, Illinois University, for the Illinois Theatre Convention, at Act One Studios, and various Master classes and workshops around the Chicago area. Currently, she teaches alongside Steppenwolf company members Tom Irwin and Jeff Perry at the Steppenwolf School West in Los Angeles California. She is also currently teaching and earning her Master's in theater at California State University, Long Beach.
She has appeared in the 2005 made-for-TV movie Romy and Michelle: A New Beginning on ABC. She has also played transgender characters in episodes of Karen Sisco, ER, Eli Stone and Grey's Anatomy.
Billings is also a professional singer who performs in theaters and nightclubs throughout the United States. She recorded her second CD, The Story Goes On, in 2003, which was produced by Lampkin Music and directed by Russ Long. Her first CD "Being Alive" was up for Grammy consideration. She was a recipient of the New York MAC Hanson Award for Cabaret Artist of the Year in 2004.
In 2010 Billings appeared in the GLBT film FAUX, in which she commented on gay marriage spurring the economy.
In 2014, Billings played the part of Davina in the first season of the Amazon series Transparent.
Billings lives in Hollywood, California with her wife Chrisanne. They were married in a commitment ceremony in Chicago on December 4, 1995. Billings was chosen as the Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois on June 28, 2009.
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