'This isn't about tokenism'

By Kelly Connolly
October 09, 2015 at 12:52 PM EDT


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British soap EastEnders has cast actor Riley Carter Millington to play transgender character Kyle, executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins announced on Thursday. Millington’s casting marks the first time a U.K. television soap opera has had a transgender actor playing a transgender character in a regular role.

“I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders,” says the 21-year-old Millington. “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.”

This is Millington’s first television role.

“It has been my intention for a long time to cast a trans actor playing a trans role,” says Treadwell-Collins, who first announced his intention to bring on a transgender actor earlier this year. “We have been so careful to ensure that we cast the right actor for the part.”

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“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.

“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.”

Millington will make his first appearance on the soap in October, and will then return on a permanent basis at the end of the year.


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