Nickelodeon just made network history by casting their first out, trans teen actor to play a role in a series, the Henry Danger spin-off Danger Force!
According to Variety, 13-year-old actor Sasha A. Cohen (alongside his twin sister Natalie R. Cohen) was recently cast in the June 19 "Manlee Men" episode of the kids comedy series, which tells the story of a group of kids in the fictional town of Swellview learning to harness their superpowers with the guidance of Captain Man (Cooper Barnes).
Sasha's casting comes on the heels of fellow out trans actor and Danger Force regular Michael D. Cohen (the two are of no relation) launching the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, an initiative that seeks to help aspiring, young trans and nonbinary actors get their foot in the door in the entertainment industry and Hollywood.
"I want Sasha to see his own power as an actor and as a human," Michael D. (who co-wrote and directed the June 19 Danger Force episode) said in a statement to Variety about Sasha's casting and inclusion in the popular children's superhero series. "I want him to feel proud of his work and feel real confident in himself in every aspect and to know that he will help change kids' lives by being the first kid of trans experience on Nickelodeon in live-action."
"I had never felt comfortable about who I am, and I always thought that I would never play a transgender role. 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."
"It has long been Nickelodeon's mission to be a home for all kids, and to authentically represent them in their full diversity," Paul DeBenedittis, Nick's executive vice president of programming and content strategy, added in a statement about the history-making casting for the network. "This episode of Danger Force ultimately tells a relatable story of friendship, openness, and trust, through the lens of sitcom. We're incredibly proud of it and of everyone involved."
Sasha also took to Instagram to celebrate the occasion.
"I [had] so much fun working on Danger Force and I can't wait to see the episode!" he captioned a behind-the-scenes pic where he can be seen hanging out with his co-stars on set.
This isn't the first time Danger Force has proudly showcased the queer community in one of its episodes! In April of last year, the "Say My Name" episode featured a storyline with an interracial same-sex couple named Justin (Tommy Dickie) and Dustan (Brandon Claybon), two gay dads who are reunited with their lost child thanks to the help of the Danger Force.
"As a gay man who grew up with no visible role models of gay relationships in my community or entertainment content, I am grateful that this representation is happening on Nickelodeon, moved by the difference that it is surely making in the minds and hearts of children, and grateful to have been a part of this slow but important change," Dickie told PRIDE at the time when asked about the opportunity to play an actual queer character in a Nickelodon show. "Thank you for caring and for making a socially conscious choice, Nick."
Sasha's episode of Danger Force is set to premiere on Nickelodeon on Saturday, June 19!
RELATED | Y: The Last Man TV Series Is Premiering Way Sooner Than You Think