Perhaps because the producers of "American Horror Story: Freak Show" thought that a casting notice for a seven-foot tall woman would be too tough a sell, they wrote the role of the show's big lady for a male actor -- which meant that Erika Ervin, the giantess model known on the series and in real life as Amazon Eve, had to take some interesting measures in order to get her foot in the door.
"I auditioned for the part as a guy," Ervin says, in this latest behind-the-scenes "Extra-Ordinary Artists" video from AHS creator Ryan Murphy. "[I] slicked back my hair, no makeup, flannel shirt, bound my breasts, dropped my voice, and walked in -- and nailed it."
For Ervin, who came out as transgender in 2004, joining the cast of "American Horror Story" has been part of a deeply personal journey: one she began in hiding, but is ending in the spotlight. After her family was hard-hit by the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s -- her mother was a nurse who died from the disease after accidentally pricking her finger with an infected needle -- Ervin did not find support at home when she transitioned, and ten years later, the cruel rejection clearly still stings. Her voice breaks as she says, "My family literally wrote back and said, do not write, do not call, you're not welcome in our home."
Since then, Ervin has used her formidable body to great success, including holding a Guinness World Record for being the world's tallest model. But as a member of the diverse "American Horror Story" cast, she says, she found something she'd been missing:
"I think the transgender movement could actually learn from the freak narrative," she says. "It's a place where people who are different come together and find a sense of community. It's more than just a freak show. There's a family here."
Check out the video, including Ervin's story of how she went from being a schlubby attorney to the international sensation known as Amazon Eve, below: