Jackson Millarker is playing Lily’s playdate and WE ARE SO EXCITED.
Television is leading the charge these days when it comes to shining a light on underrepresented groups in our society. Don’t believe us? Look at shows like Transparent and Fresh Off the Boat for evidence of this progress. In fact, in the same week that ABC’s Speechless featured the first ever casting of a disabled person in a disabled role, Modern Family have now announced the groundbreaking casting of a transgender child, Jackson Millarker in a role on the show. Jackson will play a school friend of Lily’s who comes over for a play date.
The issue of transgender roles going to transgender actors is one that has only recently begun to improve. Star of Transparent Jeffrey Tambor, who himself plays a transgender woman, called for producers to “Give them auditions, give them their stories” during his Emmy acceptance speech last week. Thankfully, networks and streaming platforms seem to be doing just that – Tambor’s own show, and others like Orange is the New Black, are finally giving transgender roles to transgender actors. It’s also worth noting that that last year saw the first ever nomination of a trans person in an acting category at the Emmy’s, when Laverne Cox was nominated for her role as Sophia in Orange is the New Black.
While Modern Family seems to living up to it’s name with this casting, it remains to be seen how long it will take the rest of the industry to modernize in the same respect. Television appears to have made progress, film is still lagging behind. There are many instances in the past of transgender roles having been played by cisgender people such as Transamerica starring Felicity Huffman, and more recently, Jared Letto and Eddie Redmayne portrayed trans characters, as well. These castings were met with criticism from organizations like GLAAD.
Fortunately, it looks like Jackson will be part of the new generation of trans actors that are finally allowed to tell their stories on screen.
Congratulations, Jackson! We’re so happy for you and the entire LGBTQ community!