Disney Channel introduces first-ever trans character in Raven's Home
19 July 2022, 17:08 | Updated: 17 November 2022, 15:27
"Now I get to be that person I wish I had to watch on TV growing up."
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The Disney Channel have at long last started championing transgender representation on-screen, including the network's first trans character in Raven's Home.
Raven's Home is the spin-off of the cult Disney Channel show That's So Raven. Raven Baxter (played by Raven Simone) is all grown up now and has two children of her own, one of which has inherited her famous psychic abilities.
In season 5 episode 15, titled The Fierce Awakens, viewers are introduced to a new character named Nikki (played by Juliana Joel), who Raven interviews to be her assistant. In the end, Nikki lands the job.
Following her first appearance Juliana, who is trans, confirmed that her character is transgender just like her in a statement on Instagram.
She wrote: "1st out Trans character on Disney Channel? I can finally share that I’ve joined the season 5 cast of Raven’s Home on Disney Channel!
"Growing up as a kid in Florida (like many other kids) I dreamt of being on the Disney Channel, specifically on That’s So Raven. It was my favorite show & Raven Baxter was my best friend in my mind. It was my escape from what I was going through internally. Coming from a typical Puerto Rican family, I didn’t think being an actor was possible esp for someone like me, I thought you had to be born into that world.
"Fast forward to becoming an actor I then told myself I wasn’t young enough to be on Disney anymore & even if that wasn’t the case I’m TRANS! I’d never seen an out trans actor or character on the Disney Channel. EVER. Needless to say I cried in my dressing room after walking onto that set the first time. It was a moment where it hit me that I not only get to live out my childhood dream on a version of my favorite show…I get to do it as my authentic self and with a character that is openly trans."
She added: "But it was really more than just being on the show. With all of the anti-trans hate and narratives in media and society, it was a win. I claimed a dream and space for myself while so much of the world is trying to erase me & my community. And now I get to be that person I wish I had to watch on TV growing up. So never tell yourself it can’t happen because it can, in ways you never dreamt possible."
Juliana also thanked the episode writer, Nori Reed, who is queer.
She continued: "Massive shout out to @norireed the writer of this episode who created my character Nikki. She is such a talented, badass person and comedic genius. And of course thank you to the entire cast & crew for being so welcoming, every episode was such a blast to be a part of."