By David T. Valentin
Nickelodeon has hired their first openly transgender actor in their live-action superhero show, Danger Force.
Back in December of last year, Michael Cohen, known for his role for playing Henry Danger on the show, launched the Trans Youth Acting Challenge – an organization which facilitates trans youth actors breaking into the acting industry.
Cohen himself is a trans actor who only opened up to the public about his acting experience as a transactor back in 2019 in an interview with Times Magazine. Ever since his coming out and being vocal about some of the challenges he’s faced due to his trans identity, many teens from all over the world emailed and messaged him, asking how they can break into the industry and overcome many of the barriers in their way.
Cohen writes on the website, “I have been getting a lot of DM’s and emails from trans youth sharing their dreams of being an actor and feeling uncertain about how to do it – not only for the obvious challenges everyone faces in acting but also because of the issues they have to deal with daily just asserting their authentic selves.
“It is my passion and purpose to be there for trans youth in any way I can. And this is a first step: To help kids who were like me realize that they can be who they are, have dreams and get the support they need to realize their full potential.
“So I went to some senior executives at Nickelodeon and brought the idea of having a general casting call for trans youth which would be supported by a master class that I would teach. I told them that I wanted to see more stories with trans characters in children’s television. I also said that I wanted to create opportunities for trans youth to be cast in all sorts of roles, not just the trans ones. I want it all. Much to my delight, everyone I spoke with at Nickelodeon was on board.”
And that’s how Michael found Sasha Cohen (no relation), a 13-year-old actor who has been cast alongside his twin sister, Natalie Cohen. Sasha was among 200 applicants of the program and ended up snagging the role on Michael Cohen’s series, Danger Force.
“I had never felt comfortable about who I am, and I always thought that I would never play a transgender role,” Sasha told Variety. “But there are so many kids out there who need to see someone like them – a role model who has the ability to put themselves out there.”
According to Michael, the next program he wants to do is a trans television writers’ program, one that will focus on finding college grads with “stellar writing talent of trans experience.”
The episode Sasha will appear in is scheduled to be released on June 19th, which you can watch on the Nickelodeon channel.