Eastenders cast first transgender character

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EastEnders bosses have announced that TV newcomer Riley Carter Millington will be joining the soap’s cast as Kyle, a transgender character. The 21-year-old is the first ever transgender actor to play a transgender character in a continuing UK soap role.

 Speaking of his new role, Millington commented: “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.”

EastEnders‘ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins first announced plans to create a transgender character in February, explaining that he was determined to cast a transgender actor in the role.

A number of transgender actors put themselves forward following the news, while EastEnders also undertook workshops to look for new talent. Once Millington was found, the character of Kyle was developed. Treadwell-Collins said today: “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. 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.

“The people we met showed us a strength and bravery that took our breath away – and to go through as much as they have while maintaining humour and a positive view on the world is testament to what special people we met.”

 He continued: “In Riley, we have found not just a talented actor but also an inspirational young man whose warmth immediately comes through the screen. And this isn’t about tokenism. Alex Lamb and his story team have worked with Riley to create an EastEnders character who is fresh and relatable – but also comes with his own stock of secrets and is going to be thrown right into one of our biggest stories for the end of the year.

“I hope that the audience will take Riley and his character to their hearts as quickly as everyone here at EastEnders has done.”

Fellow soaps Coronation Street and Hollyoaks have also previously had transgender characters Hayley Cropper and Blessing Chambers in the regular cast, although neither were played by transgender cast members.

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BA English student at University of Southampton and Editor for The Edge (2015-16). A deep love of reading, theatre and all things entertainment.

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