Amen Ra

Ann Thomas with Amen Ra

It is sad for us to have a client pass, especially one as creative as Amen was.  He made a huge impact on everyone he met.  He was always kind and thoughtful, cheerful and outgoing.  He never held himself aloof.

Amen was deeply contemplative, always asking deep questions, and trying to dig for an answer.  His creative ideas were so groundbreaking that it made our heads spin as he told us the details.

Ann spoke of him, “In our last visit together before he passed, I told him it was difficult for us to keep up with all of his ideas.  He said, ‘Think of what it’s like to have a brain that is constantly coming up with these ideas.’”  It was just as overwhelming for him as it was for us.

He would come up with song ideas, movie ideas, technology ideas, new ways to use current technology to reach audiences – his ideas were amazingly broad.  New ideas flowed from him rapidly.  Everything he wanted to do was epic, never on a small scale.

How Did We Meet Amen?

Ann saw a casting call that gave indications that it was a story about someone transgender.  On a hunch, Ann wrote the casting office and was put in touch with the producers, who had been looking for a transgender person to consult on their project with.  It was shooting only days later, and most of the plans were already done by this time.  Ann was invited to stop by the set to watch.

Screen shot from the Born In His Body sizzle reel – Amen Ra as Bruce Jenner

There Ann watched for a while as Amen played the role of Jenner for a short film about Jenner to be used as a sizzle reel.  Ann was later invited to meet with Amen and his father, Andrzej Stepniak, where they explained his passion for this story.  Amen was very much inspired by how Jenner, early in life, pushed through to become at that time, one of the greatest athletes in the Olympics.  Then, later in life, Jenner transitioned to live an authentic life, pushing through a different kind of pain.

As Amen learned from us, and met with various members of our staff, he became more and more inspired by our community living an authentic life. It deeply resonated with him.

Why We Began Working Together

Amen could deeply relate to transgender people as another marginalized person. He had been raised in a place where he was of color in a land that predominantly wasn’t, from a tiny ethnic minority group that is not of the same religious background as the vast majority.

In spite of that, he had deep compassion for everyone around him.  The love that flowed out from him was amazing, and encompassed everyone who came in contact with him.  He had the biggest heart!

We began to organize all this creativity and love into projects that could help bring humanity together.  We all realized that the best course was to pursue humanitarian goals with our efforts.

His father, Andrzej, passed away in 2019, and it deeply affected Amen.  He was very close to his father, and we supported him as much as we could during this time.

He was greatly amused by news stories of him pursuing surgeries to change his appearance.  Amen wasn’t transgender, and wasn’t pursuing surgeries to purposefully change his appearance.

What Happened?

About six months ago, he started having physical problems.  We didn’t know what was going on, and it took months of doctors and many visits to Emergency Rooms, to begin to understand the illness he was facing.  It wasn’t COVID, nor was it through anything of his fault.  Amen felt that it might have begun with a mosquito bite decades ago when he was volunteering in Africa.

It seems that eventually it took his life. He passed away April 23, 2021, peacefully at home.

Amen’s Amazing History

Amen was born in 1986, named Jakub Stepniak, and became known as a child star, performing at a young age, with major stars.  His stage name when he began in Poland was Kuba Ka.  Eventually his performances caught the attention of Michael Jackson, and they met at some point.  When Amen moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career as an adult, Frank Delio began managing Amen’s career here in the US.

He chose to change his stage name to Amen Ra, to more reflect who he felt he was, and felt drawn to his Egyptian heritage.

We at Transgender Talent and Key Change Ensemble will deeply miss Amen.  He had a deep and lasting impact on us and our work.  We loved working with him, and he with us.