Nickelodeon, owned by ViacomCBS, has cast its first openly transgender teenage actor to star in a live-action kids’ series.
The 13-year-old Sasha Cohen, who was born female but now identifies as male, will appear in the June 19 episode of “Danger Force,” according to Variety. Cohen also co-wrote and directed the episode.
Cohen’s appearance in the series comes less than two years after actor Michael D. Cohen — no relation — came out as transgender. Born female, Cohen transitioned to identifying as male some 20 years ago.
“I had never felt comfortable about who I am, and I always thoughts that I would never play a transgender role,” said Sasha Cohen. “But there are so many kids out there who need to see someone like them — a role model who has the ability to put themselves out there.”
The younger Cohen landed the gig after participating in the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, which Michael D. Cohen launched in December.
“I want Sasha to see his own power as an actor and as a human,” the elder Cohen said. “I want him to feel proud of his work and feel real confident in himself in every aspect and to know that he will help change kids’ lives by being the first kid of trans experience on Nickelodeon in live action.”
Paul DeBenedittis, executive vice president of programming and content strategy for Nickelodeon, said it has “long been Nickelodeon’s mission to be a home for all kids and to authentically represent them in their full diversity.”
He said the episode Sasha Cohen stars in “tells a relatable story of friendship, openness, and trust through the lens of sitcom.”
The announcement about “Danger Force” comes just weeks after Disney announced it is revamping its 20-year-of animated series “The Proud Family.”
As Faithwire previously reported, the rebooted show — “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” — will center on two multiethnic, gay dads and their adopted teenager daughter, who is a racial activist.
The gay dads, Barry and Randall Leibowitz-Jenkins, will be voiced by Billy Porter and Zachary Quinto — both of whom are gay — while their daughter, Maya, will be voiced by Keke Palmer.
It will also feature returning series character Michael Collins, the best friend of original character Penny Proud, as a “non-conforming trendsetter.”
That series is expected to debut on the streaming platform Disney+ sometime in 2022.