More exciting news this week – EastEnders is shortly introducing its first transgender character, which is played by trans actor, Riley Carter Millington!
Riley will make his first appearance as Kyle on the show later on this month, but we won’t find out more about his mysterious character for a while longer. He’ll be back on our screens after his initial introduction at the end of the year. This will be 21-year-old Riley’s first ever TV role and he’s looking forward to playing it: “I cannot wait to really get stuck in with filming and I look forward to seeing what is in store for my character.”
Producer Alex Lamb and his story team were really keen to make Kyle fresh and genuine, but the character is full of mystery and will be involved in one of the most central stories of the year. He hopes people will take to Riley as much as everyone at EastEnders has.
All About Trans’ work with EastEnders
All About Trans is especially happy about the announcement which has come a year after the media interaction All About Trans volunteers had with producers and writers from EastEnders. This took place in March 2014, (we’ve had to keep quiet about it until now!) and was facilitated by Paris Lees with 7 other volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Lots of different things were discussed during the meeting. Firstly, everyone said they thought EastEnders would be a great soap for a trans storyline. Dominic Treadwell-Collins agreed with this, as he said today how “EastEnders has always led the way in changing audience’s perceptions about ‘difference’ – and ultimately making the world a better place”.
During the meeting we explored ways to get more trans actors in films and TV. The volunteers really emphasised how important it is to have trans actors playing trans characters, something that the casting and storyline team obviously took on board with Riley. Kyle is the first trans character played by a trans person in a long running soap, so it’s really a ground-breaking moment. Bethany Black made history earlier in the year for playing a transgender character, Helen, in Channel 4’s Banana and Cucumber, created by Queer as Folk producer, Russell T Davis. And our very own Rebecca Root co-stared in BBC Two’s Boy Meets Girl, a six-part sitcom which finished last night.
What I found most surprising was how organic the process of creating stories is, even in a big organisation like the BBC. It felt like the writers were interested in writing real, believable and interesting characters despite knowing the culture behind the lack of representation of marginalised people. Hopefully, this is something they will think about and consider. J, All About Trans volunteer
During the EastEnders interaction, volunteers also chatted about needing to normalise trans characters. They pointed out that it shouldn’t be a big deal that the part is transgender, and they gave the example of Orange is the New Black with Laverne Cox, also speaking about how trans actors should be playing all sorts of characters, not just trans. Earlier this year All About Trans helped EastEnders with their casting workshops and auditions – seeking trans actors. It’s clear that it was great to have this interaction, and to give EastEnders a chance to listen to the advice and thoughts of the volunteers.
So keep an eye on your TV screens this month and check out Kyle’s first appearance. Make sure to let us know what you think about it!
EastEnders is on BBC One.