By James Hibberd
September 13, 2016 at 06:35 PM EDT
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Jen Richards is headed to Nashville. The Emmy-nominated actress, who is transgender, has joined the cast of CMT’s debut season of the musical drama in a recurring role, EW has learned exclusively.

Richards (Her Story) will play a “tough but understanding physical therapist who helps a series regular through one of their most difficult challenges.”

That description is sure to get Nashies buzzing — who might need help recovering from an injury? The easiest-to-speculate answer would be Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who was seemingly in a plane crash in the season 4 finale. But if that’s true, how badly hurt is she?

The casting marks CMT’s first transgender character on the network, and Richards joins Grammy-winning singer Rhiannon Giddens among the new performers on the show this season.

Richards was the co-writer, star and producer of the series Her Story, and has also appeared on E!’s I Am Cait, Logo’s Beautiful As I Want To Be and AOL’s True Trans with Laura Jane Grace. She’s also in CBS’ upcoming series Doubt

The Lionsgate-produced Nashville returns with a two-hour premiere on Jan. 5 on CMT, with episodes available on Hulu the next day. 

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