BBC Soap 'EastEnders' Casts Transgender Actor

'EastEnders' transgender actor Riley Carter Millington - H 2015
Courtesy of BBC

"I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams — to be living my life as a man and to be an actor," says 21-year-old Riley Carter Millington who will play a transgender character.

The BBC has cast 21-year-old Riley Carter Millington in soap opera EastEnders, saying the hire marks the first time that a transgender actor or actress has been featured on a U.K. TV soap portraying a transgender character in a continuing role.

"Working alongside groups within the transgender community, EastEnders undertook workshops to find an actor," the BBC said. "As soon as [show producers] found Riley, the character of Kyle was created and developed."

The character will first appear on the show this month and then return permanently at the end of the year. The BBC said that "little will be known" about the "mysterious character for quite some time."

Said Carter Millington: "I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders. 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."

Said EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins: "From Mark Fowler’s HIV to Colin and Barry’s first gay kiss, EastEnders has always led the way in changing audience’s perceptions about 'difference' — and ultimately making the world a better place. It has been my intention for a long time to cast a trans actor playing a trans role — and we have been so careful to ensure that we cast the right actor for the part."

Another U.K. soap used to feature a transgender character when actress Julie Hesmondhalgh portrayed Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street.