Nickelodeon wants its next child star to be trans or non-binary – and it’s roped in a trans kids’ TV legend to help
Nickelodeon and actor Michael D. Cohen have launched a major search for the next child star, and they want to cast a trans actor.
Cohen, the star of Nickelodeon shows Henry Danger and its spin-off, Danger Force, came out as trans in May 2019 – publicly disclosing what those around him had long known, which was that he had transitioned 20 years earlier.
Now, the youth-oriented network has partnered with the star of the number one live-action kids’ show on basic cable to find the next big actor. An actor who Nickelodeon would like to be trans.
Calling it the Michael D. Cohen Trans Youth Acting Challenge, the casting call asks aspiring trans and non-binary actors living in the US or Canada to submit audition tapes by 23 December. Twelve finalists will take part in a Zoom acting masterclass with Cohen, and then an online webinar with Nickelodeon’s casting team.
Cohen told The Advocate that he was inspired to launch the challenge after getting messages from trans youth who wanted to act but were afraid their transness would get in the way.
“It breaks my heart that these kids question their creativity or dreams because of their gender identity,” Cohen said. “So I wanted to do something that would help trans kids who love acting get access to opportunities that they wouldn’t ordinarily have.”
Cohen continued: “If communities who have been historically beaten down and disregarded are going to claim their equal place in our society, it needs to happen at least in part by people in positions of power opening up the gates and offering up a place to nurture.
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“And that’s exactly what Nickelodeon is doing by being my partner in this project.”
He added that he wants trans youth to know that “there are adults out there who care about their journey as artists”, and that as well as having trans actors play trans roles, it’s also important that trans people play characters who don’t have trans experience.
“I want kids to know that their trans experience does not have to limit their possibilities,” Cohen said. “It doesn’t have to define everything they do, including the characters they play.
“My hope is that this initiative will increase the possibilities for these actors by expanding roles for them and also reinforcing their own belief in themselves.”