By: Carly Levy
A Coral Springs resident will be guest starring on Wednesday night’s episode of I Am Jazz, a hit reality show on TLC that centers around transgender youth activist Jazz Jennings.
Last December, Shane Hofman, 17, a junior at Marjory Stoneman High School, was on his way to perform karaoke with his friend Frank who had found a posting on Backstage.com that said they were looking for teens to guest star on I Am Jazz. After Frank asked the producer, Taylor Garbutt, if he could bring some friends with him, Garrett told Frank to bring three. Knowing this would be his chance to be on TV, Hofman decided to consider the offer.
“I like the reality TV aspect because…I like being myself more than anything.” said Hofman. “I think I want to be a comedian, so that I can talk as me.”
Although born male, Jazz Jennings, 16, is a transgender female and has been living as a girl since kindergarten. Parents Jeanette and Greg have spent the years finding doctors to treat their daughter, while fighting the discrimination and misconceptions associated with what it means to be transgender. She was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens ” in 2014 and 2015 by Time and I Am Jazz was awarded the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Reality Program.”
A couple of days after the interview, Hofman got a knock on his door from Frank who was holding a contract from the show in his hand. Hofman said that he was thrilled beyond belief that he was picked.
He said that he felt like a real celebrity being on I Am Jazz as the crew prepped him with microphones. Because of his experience in creating and starring on his own YouTube channels, Hofman was no stranger to being on camera.
“When the camera’s on you, part of you is nervous but another part is saying ‘don’t pay attention to [the camera] because it’s a reality show.’”
On the July 19 episode, Hofman and a few other friends are with Jennings for “Dating in the Dark” in Fort Lauderdale where he was set up at a table where he could not see anything – including the people sitting at his table. Hofman said he was able to guess that Jennings was sitting at his table as her voice was the only one that sounded confident in front of the camera. Hofman said that he was nervous the whole time about bumping into something or dropping a glass, as the room was pitch black.
When the lights went on and Jennings admitted to Hofman that she was transgendered, Hofman was not shocked since the producers had told him in advance what the show would be about.
“I didn’t care. I’ll never judge anyone for anything they want to do. That’s not my place” said Hofman. “Everyone should be themselves and embrace who they want to be in the future.”
When asked to talk about Jazz Jennings, Hofman said that she was an amazing person and would love to be a friend to her but being more than friends with her down the road would be too hard for him to do because of the physical challenges that can occur when dating someone who is transgendered.
“I have nothing against her story of embracing who she is,” said Hofman. “I need someone that can give me certain things, and she physically can’t. It’s not her fault, and I don’t have anything against that. That’s just how I feel.”
If the opportunity came again, Hofman said he would love to come back on the show if Jennings ever needed a friend as he had an “amazing time” getting a chance to be in the spotlight as well as meeting new people.
Watch a new episode of I Am Jazz Wednesdays at 9:00pm on TLC.