As one of the UK’s biggest soap operas, EastEnders has never been afraid to touch on hard-hitting storylines. From Mark Fowler’s HIV to Colin and Barry’s first gay kiss (featured back in the ’80s), the soap has always tried to lead the way in changing audience’s perceptions about ‘difference’. And their latest move? Yeah, they’ve definitely got to be applauded. The BBC One soap has announced they’ve cast their first transgender actor – and they’re the first soap in the UK to do so. Give yourself a pat on the back, EastEnders. It’s about time!
Acting newcomer Riley Carter Millington will play the part of Kyle, a young transgender man. EastEnders fans will first see him on their screens in October; but he’ll soon become a regular at the end of the year.
So what do we know about EastEnders’ first transgender actor?
You’ve got to hand it to 21-year-old Riley – this is his first ever professional acting role. And what a role it is. He’s even said: “I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor.”
As for what we know about his character? Um, not a lot. It’s fair to say that Riley’s character is being completely shrouded in mystery. So…your guess is as good as ours. But EastEnders is in sore need of some awesome young characters (Ben, Bobby and Denny don’t count. They’re all mini psychos.), so it would be great if he were to fill that gap…
One thing we do know about Kyle is that he will come with his ‘own stock of secrets’. He’ll also feature in of one of the show’s biggest stories towards the end of the year. We can’t wait!
Is this all about tokenism?
Nope. EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has said this latest move has got nothing to do with tokenism. However, he was determined to make sure that the transgender character would be played by a trans actor. He even worked with various transgender groups and held workshops in order to find the perfect guy.
However, it’s fair to say that transgender characters (and trans actors) aren’t that well represented in TV and movies. Yes, Coronation Street famously featured a transgender character in the form of Hayley Cropper for 16 years – but the character was played by a non-transgender actress. So this move by EastEnders is a step in the right direction. And we’re hoping other soaps follow suit too…
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