EastEnders has cast transgender actor Riley Carter Millington, 21, as a transgender character, which they say is the first time it’s happened on a UK TV soap.
EastEnders’ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins dismissed suggestions the casting was tokenism and said the soap announced earlier this year it was determined to have a transgender actor in the role of a trans character.
Treadwell-Collins said: “From Mark Fowler’s HIV to Colin and Barry’s first gay kiss, EastEnders has always led the way in changing audience’s perceptions about ‘difference’ – and ultimately making the world a better place. It has been my intention for a long time to cast a trans actor playing a trans role – and we have been so careful to ensure that we cast the right actor for the part.”
He added: “I’ve sat in many acting workshops over the years with our casting executive Julia Crampsie and her team – but never have we been so moved by the incredible life stories and wealth of talent that we experienced over our several weeks of workshops with transgender actors… Following that announcement, a number of transgender actors put themselves forward for the role and, as well as working alongside groups within the transgender community, EastEnders undertook workshops to find an actor.
“As soon as they found Riley, the character of Kyle was developed and created.”
EastEnders is Riley’s first TV role and he’ll make his debut later this month before returning permanently at the end of the year.
Riley said: “I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders. I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor. I cannot wait to really get stuck in with filming and I look forward to seeing what is in store for my character.”
No word yet on the name of Riley’s character or how he’ll make waves in Albert Square.