Van Barnes is best recognized as a transgender actress and a strong advocate of the LGBTQ community. Like most of her colleagues, Barnes has had a rocky path to fame while trying to carve a niche for herself in the industry, but she succeeded and is now an easily recognizable face to fans thanks to popular shows like Transparent and This is Me. More recently, Barnes made headlines following allegations of sexual misconduct against her former boss and veteran actor Jeffrey Tambor. Here are facts you should know about the actress, director, former model, and dancer.
Van Barnes – Biography
There is no information readily available about Van Barnes’ birthdate, parents, family, early life and elementary education. However, it is no secret that the actress from Hillsboro, Missouri, honed her acting skills at the Academy of Art in Chicago.
Prior to her acting career, Barnes lived in New York and earned a living as a dancer and model. During this time, she struggled to make ends meet and lived in unfavourable conditions. In fact, for two years, she worked as a high-end escort/dominatrix/psychodramatist. Despite having to work extremely hard to carve a niche for herself in the industry, the actress claims things were never really that bad as she didn’t operate on the streets but in expensive penthouses and hotels. Even as a call girl, she played safe and didn’t do hard drugs, a decision she believes has paid off.
It was while living in New York that Barnes purportedly worked at the Waldorf Astoria and for Neiman Marcus. After Barnes quit her call girl job, she took major steps in her transition journey towards feminity. Though she still clung to her escort job, Van started the hormone replacement therapy. Dissatisfied with her New York life, the actress later stopped treatment and relocated back to the Midwest.
As an actress, Van Barnes has credits both on the small and big screens. Notably, she featured in a 2014 episode of Transparent, alongside actor Jeffrey Tambor. She is also one of the transwomen who has been featured on the popular E! reality series, I am Cait, which chronicles Caitlyn Jenner’s transition journey and struggles. Again in 2015, she was featured in the show This is Me, which also depicts the transgender community struggles.
Van Barnes has also stepped behind the camera as a director. She takes credit for co-directing the 2008 short film You Will Never Ever Be a Woman. You Must Live the Rest of Your Days Entirely as a Man, and You Will Only Grow More Masculine with Each Passing Year. There Is No Way Out.
Celebrity Facts and Profile of The Actress
Like many other transgender people, Van Barnes’ story is no different. According to a 2011 interview, the actress revealed that she grew up with little or no adult supervision and thus began enjoying unusual freedom from a young age. Barnes grew up mostly troubled. She struggled to come to terms with her true self for many years as she had always been convinced of her feminity. It was while working and living in New York that she took the bold step towards finally embracing her real self.
Van Barnes is happily married to a cisgender Rick Cibulka. Not much is known about their love journey, but we do know that the couple officially tied the knot in 2014 in St. Louis. Barnes once revealed in an interview that she and her partner were subjected to discriminations at various points before and during their wedding. From the LGBT-friendly minister that constantly ‘misgendered’ her while officiating the ceremony to discriminatory comments from a clerk at the wedding registry while trying to get a marriage license, Barnes didn’t have it any easier. Nonetheless, the actress, who since childhood had always nursed goals of getting legally wed, remained undeterred.
Van Barnes and her husband live near the St. Louis area. The couple once featured on the reality TV show, I Am Cait wherein Caitlyn Jenner paid a visit to Cibulka’s motorcycle shop.
- Barnes-Tambor Controversy
More recently, Barnes was embroiled in a controversy involving award-winning actor Jeffrey Tambor. Joining the #MeToo campaign on her Facebook page, the actress became one of the women accusing Tambor of sexual misconduct on the sets of the show Transparent. According to Barnes’ post, the actress alleged that while working as Tambor’s personal assistant on Transparent, she was sexually harassed, abused verbally, and extremely demeaned by the veteran actor whom she called a ‘monster’.
Since Barnes was not the only one with such claims, Amazon promptly launched an investigation into the allegations against Tambor, while the actress also hired an attorney to represent her in this case. However, Tambor strongly debunked Van’s claims, describing them as baseless.
- LGBT Activist
Barnes believes she is a role model for transgender people. Since she once nursed fears of being fired for being transsexual, the actress is now an advocate for making the workplace safe for women. Through her fight for justice against sexual harassments, Barnes is also part of the #MeToo movement which she spreads on her social media accounts.